The sweet hit my tongue first, next was the tart, and then finally, the crispy caramelization of the sugar. My tastebuds seemed to be dancing a silly little jig on my tongue, but I didn’t care. It was just as I had expected — a sweet and tart party with every bite. What was this meal, you may be asking. It wasn’t a meal, it was simply the orange garnish atop my cocktail today at Down the Hatch in Lahaina Town.
Made with Hendrick’s Gin, orange, a sprig of Rosemary, Boston’s Bitterman’s Bittahs, and a brûlée orange garnish, The Brûlée Orange cocktail at Down the Hatch is incredible and refreshing! With the word orange clearly stamped into the name, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Most cocktails I sample with orange as an ingredient tend to be overly-sweet. That isn’t to say that I don’t like citrus-forward cocktails, but I’m more of a lime girl than an orange girl. Still, the caramelized orange intrigued me. Also, as a craft cocktail bar, I figured this bar could do no wrong. I was right.
I watched carefully as Dave (our first bartender) torched an orange slice (I also decided then and there that I must own a torch). I watched as he then added the rosemary to the shaker and shook it along with the ingredients. The result was a rosemary-infused gin cocktail. Hendrick’s gin, infused with juniper and with added cucumber and Bulgarian Rose to enhance its flavor, the rosemary was an inspired addition to the cocktail. The herbaceous flavor topped with the sweet caramelized orange as the garnish — brilliant! As I devoured every last bit of the orange meat, I said, “I’ll order this one again and again.”
BUT, I wasn’t there to try just one cocktail. While my boyfriend sipped his one cocktail, Summer Sandia, (pictured above) with Square One Cucumber Vodka, fresh lime, and fresh watermelon juice, I ordered another — Lilikoi Basil. Again, I closely watched the bartender (this time it was Adam) as he mixed the ingredients bit by bit. (As a home amateur bartender, I enjoy watching the masters at work.)
The Lilikoi Basil with Maui’s own Ocean Vodka, lilikoi puree, and fresh basil was an excellent follow-up to the Brûlée Orange. Expecting a stronger basil flavor — as with many basil-infused cocktails — I was pleasantly presented with a sweet and only very-mildly tart cocktail that was not at all overpowered by basil. The delicate amount of basil contributed just the right amount of flavor to balance the cocktail. I overheard Adam tell the two friendly women seated next to us that he only makes that cocktail about 5 times a day. Really? I should have asked him what cocktail people request the most. Next time, for sure.
The final treat, was the grilled brussels sprouts appetizer. Audible gasps were uttered around us as Adam placed the gorgeous appetizer in front of us. Plated in a quirky metal martini glass, the brussels sprouts were glazed with sweetness that balanced the bitterness of the sprouts and topped with bits of fried bacon that added just the right amount of savory to the dish.
Down the Hatch is definitely well-worth a jaunt to Lahaina. Along with craft cocktails, and tasty appetizers, they also serve wonderful fresh-catch fish, sandwiches, and even shave ice made with freshly made juices. Try ’em out! We’ll definitely be back for more.