Cocktail contest commemorates Blue Hawaii creator’s birthday

Local News

The beloved Blue Hawaii is one of the most recognizable drinks in the islands. Bartenders from around Honolulu gathered at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Tapa Bar Wednesday to honor it’s creator by mixing it up for his centennial celebration.

It’s blue, it’s sweet and it’s got an island vibe that can’t be beat. I’m talking about the Blue Hawaii cocktail.
Legendary Hawaii bartender Harry Yee created the tropical drink in 1957 at the request of a Dutch distiller Bols to promote their Blue Curacao liquer.
Today is Yee’s 100th birthday.  

“We wanted to celebrate a legend in the bartending field and also a member of our ohana, Harry Yee, who invented the Blue Hawaii about 50 years ago right on this property,” said Nick Kabetso, Hilton Hawaiian Village assistant director of food and beverage.

Yee worked at the Garden Bar, currently Tropics, for more than 30 years.
“What better way to celebrate bartending than with a competition to create another iconic drink,” explained Kabetso.

Kahala Hotel Bartender Jared Kamisato was excited to be in the contest.

“I just wanted to be a part of this event, to represent Mr. Yee for celebration of 100 years. And also putting Hawaii on the map by creating this cocktail where people around the world know what a Blue Hawaii is,” Kamisato said.

Yee’s original Blue Hawaii had rum, vodka, pineapple juice, sweet and sour and blue curacao. It was garnished with an umbrella and an orchid. 

The six contestants were required to use the same basic ingredients,  judged on presentation, style and taste. And encouraged to be creative. Kamisato added infusions of hibiscus tea syrup and lemongrass to his drink, not to mention a pineapple carefully cut out in the shape of the sun as a garnish. It was clear he and the other contestants really put thought into their creations.

All of it to impress Yee, and for a chance to win $1000 in cash and a two-night stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Congratulations goes to William Hee with Stripsteak Waikiki for winning the grand prize. Hilton Hawaiian Village also offered the winning bartender the option to have their Blue Hawaii creation featured at the hotel.

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