Friday, February 25, 2011

Oscar-themed cocktails at Lewers Lounge

Nadine Kam photos
Lewers Lounge’s head bartender Tim Rita shows sample sizes of his "Network of Vodka" inspired by the film "The Social Network."

Just in time for the Academy Awards show, Halekulani’s master mixologist Tim Rita has come up with a slate of original cocktails themed around movies up for an award.

Rita, the head bartender at the hotel’s Lewers Lounge, created five drinks inspired by "The Black Swan" (La Danse Noir), "The Fighter" (Mickey's Ward), "True Grit" (Prickly Pear Smash), "The Social Network" (Network of Vodka) and his own favorite movie, "Toy Story 3" (Playful Punch).

The drinks are on the menu at Lewers Lounge through Oscar night, Sunday, when those attending the HIFF Oscar Night America party from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Halekulani, can continue the party in the lounge. Tickets for the event are $300 per person, available by mailing HIFF at or calling 792-1577 ext. 1 Visit for more information.

It was fun to talk to Rita about his process, from remembering the fruity flavors of punch at his grandmother's house when he was a kid, to creating a trio of flavors, from sweet and spicy to spirited to reflect personalities that might comprise a social network.

La Danse Noir captures the dark, mysterious beauty of "The Black Swan," made with spiced brandy, Marie Brizard blackberry, fresh lime and simple syrup, and garnished with blackberries and sage leaves.

Mickey's Ward, created for "The Fighter," is Tim's take on the Ward Eight that originated in Boston, using Irish whiskey (Jameson), orange curacao, Maraschino cherry liquor and Peychauds bitters.

A closeup view of the "The Social Network"-inspired Network of Vodka. Tim used Kai vodka to reinforce the spirit of gathering and enjoyment. The trio reflect "Sweet and Spicy" (Kai lychee, Pama liquor, lime juice, chile simple syrup); "Very Spirited" (Kai 80 proof, Lillet blanc, St. Germain); and "Organic Green" (Kai 80 proof, lime and agave syrup) personality profiles.

"True Grit"-inspired Prickly Pear Smash stars Makers mark, lemon juice, Rotui soursop (prickly pear) and Reagan's orange bitters.

"Toy Story 3"-inspired "Playful Punch" is a bright, lively blend of spiced brandy, Grand Marnier and fresh lilikoi, pineapple juice and lemon juice spritzer.

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