I drank my first Passionfruit Martini at Jackie Rey’s Ohana Grill on the big island of Hawaii. It was rimmed with an orange-colored, slightly sour and sweet powder. I’d never tasted anything like it and couldn’t figure out what it was, but it gave the cocktail a unique flavor.
What is it?
I asked the bartender, who’d invented this particular Passionfruit Martini.
It’s Li Hing. You can find it anyplace in Hawaii.said the bartender.
Indeed, once she mentioned it, I did see it all over- at the airport gift shop, the grocery store, ABC store and in restaurants, at the front counter. Of course, I bought a big bag to bring home with me to make my own Passionfruit Martini. But what is Li Hing powder (or Li Hing Mui) really?
It’s dried plum skin that’s been pickled in a combination of licorice, red food coloring, salt and sugar. This is what gives the powder its distinctive, (some say acquired) strong flavor. While it is a Hawaiian staple, the powder actually comes from Taiwan. Besides being used in cocktails, it’s also sprinkled on fruit (like pineapple), on desserts and candy.
I looked up recipes for Passionfruit Martinis that featured exotic ingredients, like passionfruit liqueur, but in the end, I made a very simple version with just three ingredients. Passionfruit juice, vanilla vodka and Li Hing Powder. It’s a very simple drink, but the Li Hing adds complexity, which makes it work.
While you can buy passionfruit juice at Publix (Ceres is the brand Zeke found), it seems to be a clear, cocktail type version. The Passionfruit Martinis I had in Hawaii, were thicker, with pulp, so I purchased some at a Juice Store in Key Largo. There are many juice stores in Miami, such as El Palacio de los Juegos, where fresh juice can be purchased.
Vanilla vodka can be purchased at any liquor store, but since I had a big bottle of Titos and vanilla beans, I made my own. I oomphed up the vanilla flavor, since I didn’t let it sit very long, by adding a splash of vanilla extract. The result? The vanilla flavored vodka compliments the tart, tropical passionfruit juice and the Li Hing rim adds an unexpected and unusual punch of flavor to make for a memorable cocktail.
This would be a perfect cocktail to celebrate Labor Day in sultry, still-summery, Miami. Li Hing powder can (like everything else in the world) be purchased on Amazon.
Passionfruit MartiniCourse: CocktailCuisine: HawaiianDifficulty: Easy
1 cup Vanilla Vodka
2 cups Passionfruit Juice
Li Hing Powder
Lime, sliced in half
- Sprinkle Li Hing powder on small plate.
- Take lime half and rub over rim of a martini glass rim. Dip rim in Li Hing powder.
- Stir cold vanilla vodka and passionfruit juice together and pour into chilled martini glass.
- To make Vanilla Vodka, place one split vanilla bean into a clean, empty wine bottle. Pour good vodka over the bean and let steep, the longer the better.
- I eyeballed the proportions, so adjust to your taste.
Up Next: Ina’s Cauliflower Toasts and Bittersweet Book Club