Olehna Golden Turmeric Botanic Spirit
The gastronomy world has a poor track record when it comes to its treatment of island culture. Often serving up reductive fare – a caricature of a facsimile, festooned in lūʻau kitsch. San Francisco’s chef Ravi Kapur has been successfully bucking this status quo with his hit restaurant Liholiho Yacht Club, and the newly opened Good Good Culture Club. Kapur channels his Hawaiian upbringing and multicultural background into harmonious dishes that defy easy categorization. Which is how he likes it: guests are welcomed into his home by flavors that are personal and comforting to him, without easy stereotypes to lean on.
Olehna – a brand new botanic spirit created by Kapur, with help from St. George’s Lance Winters, reflects this same ethos. In attempting to fill the void of drinks that showcase genuine Hawaiian agriculture, they created a beautiful, truly original spirit that also happens to be a cocktailing gem! Composed of a neutral grain spirit distilled with ginger and infused with golden turmeric, Olehna sip delightfully on its own, lounging somewhere between a dry Old Tom gin and a mellow aperitif. The golden saffron color is a visual joy in the glass, while its 80 proof strength makes it a robust cocktail base. The profile turns our expectations on its head in the best possible way: though we thought we knew what to expect from a combination of turmeric and ginger, we have been thoroughly wowed by the complex taste that’s much more than the sum of its parts. Light, citrusy and herbal aromas open up a palate of fresh, floral and vegetal notes. The citrus brightness carries through with basil and lemongrass, all supported by a confident core of ginger and turmeric which provide a good backbone without overwhelming and finishing with a warm hint of sweetness.