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Whiskey Cocktail Hour, Father’s Day Edition: Aizome Island

Father’s Day is coming up soon and as our world views have been changing a lot these days, particularly throughout the pandemic, I wanted to take this opportunity to explore something outside the typical “manly” drink ideas that you see each year on this holiday. The idea that things need to be dark and smokey and sort of punch you in the face with flavor in order to be considered masculine enough strikes me as outdated at best, and harmful for our perceptions around gender at worst.

The concept of gendering drinks at all seems strange to me, and is one I’ve seen over and over in the spirits industry. Asserting that an Old Fashioned is a manly drink while a Cosmopolitan is not seems ridiculous, not to mention that there are plenty of men out there who would prefer the latter.

With that in mind, I wanted to do a cocktail this month with a tropical vibe. The weather is warming up and nothing says fun to me, quite like a blue drank! Blue curaçao often gets a bad rap. Understandably so, as there haven’t been a lot of options on the market until recently, and a number of sickeningly sweet drinks from days past all but ruined its reputation.

Blue curaçao originated on the Caribbean island of Curaçao, just off the coast of Venezuela, close to Aruba. Long ago, Spanish colonizers brought their sweet and juicy oranges to the island, but the dry, desert-like climate there inhibited the oranges growth into the delicious, juicy oranges they knew, and instead they grew bitter and inedible. Over time it was discovered that by using the peels of these Laraha oranges, one could extract the essential oils and thus the liqueur we know today was born. Originally it was produced without the characteristic blue hue. Nobody is really sure when the intense blue coloring was added to the mix, but it appears to have gained popularity in the 60’s after the Elvis’ film, Blue Hawaii, was released.

Most people wouldn’t necessarily think of whiskey when they think of tropical drinks, but I’m the kind of gal that enjoys doing something unexpected. At 86 proof, and with notes of green apple, mint, and ginger, I thought that Suntory Toki would make a great backbone for a tropical style whiskey drink. It melds nicely with the tropical flavors of passionfruit and pineapple, and still comes through in the finish with a malty, ever so slightly peaty bite. So, grab your cocktail shaker and take Dad on tropical vacation with this drink this Father’s Day. Cheers!

Aizome Island
This month’s Whiskey Happy Hour cocktail, Aizome Island (image via Emily Ross-Johnson/The Whiskey Wash)

Aizome Island

  • 1 1/2 oz Suntory Toki
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz BG Reynolds Passionfruit Syrup
  • 1/2 oz Giffard Caribbean Pineapple Liqueur
  • 1/2 oz Giffard Blue Curaçao
  • 1/4 oz Demerara Syrup*

Add all ingredients to a shaker tin and shake with ice. Strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with pineapple sage (mint is a good substitute) and a lemon wheel.

*Demerara Syrup

Combine 1.5 cups Demerara Sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.

Emily Ross-Johnson

Emily is a bit of a Jane of All Trades. She started her career as an opera singer in NYC, and over time gravitated to the Food & Beverage Industry. Over the span of her professional life she has performed at Carnegie Hall, founded her own Whiskey Society, represented numerous spirit brands and managed multiple successful bar programs. She loves creating and photographing beautiful drinks and sharing them with others.

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