Okolehao Old Fashioned by Hanalei Spirits

An ancient Hawaiian beverage crafted into an Old Fashioned. Hanalei Spirits, the newest makers of this long-enjoyed liquor, get a buzz out of the play on words and the connection it has to the loving, generous spirit of Old Hanalei Town.

Owners Grant and Vindi Wells threw caution to the wind when Grant sold his fishing boat and put a down payment on their first still. Gaining his distilling know-how from Washington State University, an area where “craft brewing blossomed” shares Grant, he and his family embarked on their biggest labor of love—sourcing, growing, and crafting true Kauai made booze.

The story goes, okolehao first originated as a beer-like beverage made by native Hawaiians that evolved into a high proof liquor when whalers, depleted of their rum supply, used the rendering pots on their whaling ship to distill ti root. Hanalei Spirits also makes traditional style Okolehao, in a slightly more modern fashion, out of ti root they farm in Kilauea. The ti root is dug up, washed, and cooked in an imu “bigger than the size of my truck” chuckles Grant. Then using refurbished equipment, coincidentally from the aptly named Whalers Brew Pub, the ti is mashed, brewed, and distilled into Okolehao. Aged in charred oak rum barrels, the final product is silky, smooth and perfect for an Old Fashioned.

Hanalei Spirits’ Old Fashioned w/ Okolehao


  • 1 Large Ice Cube
  • 1 Sugar Cube (or 1 spoon simple syrup)
  • 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 2 oz. Hanalei Spirits Okolehao
  • Local Orange Twist, garnish
  • Luxardo Maraschino Cherry, garnish

Preparation Instructions:

  • Muddle the sugar cube and bitters with one bar spoon of water at the bottom of a chilled rocks glass. (If using simple syrup, combine bitters and one bar spoon of syrup.)
  • Add HS Okolehao and stir.
  • Add 1 large ice cube. Stir until chilled.
  • Top it off with a classic Luxardo maraschino cherry and slide an orange slice in next to the ice cube.

Do you have a recipe highlighting Hawaii grown produce that you’d like to share?
Email us at hawaiifarmersmarkets@gmail.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *