Wine in Wine Countries…

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When I was researching and planning a ten-week backpacking trip of Europe after college with my friend Jen, I read the following advice in a Rick Steves guide:

“Drink wine in wine countries, beer in beer countries.”

Yes, this sounds obvious. But I find sometimes when the obvious is stated out loud {or in writing – right in front of my face}, something clicks. I’m more conscious of the advice or tip and more likely to follow it. 😉

So Jen and I did just that. We sipped wine in France, Spain and Italy. We guzzled beer in the Czech Republic, Germany and Belgium. And every time we found an Irish Pub {in any country}, we’d order a Guinness or a cider, of course.

In fact, I just realized that we sort of practice this at home as well. We drink wine at nice restaurants holding extensive wine lists, beer when there are craft brews on tap and cider {or a Johnny Jump Up for Rob!} when in an Irish Pub.

I never realized it, but at some point, Rob overheard me recycling this advice to someone else. Here’s how I know…

While on vacation in Hawaii, near the end of our trip, we were sitting at the bar near the beach. Rob looked over to me and said:

“You know when you said that we should drink wine in wine countries and beer in beer countries when we travel?”

“Uh, yeah…” {I had no idea he had heard me say that before.}

“Well, in Hawaii, we are meant to drink cocktails. They really know how to make them here!”

He is right!

Before we even left for the trip, Rob’s friend built excitement by telling us to just picture ourselves drinking Mai Tais on the beach. Doesn’t just the thought of that immediately relax you?! Close your eyes and envision that.

It just screams VACATION!

When we arrived at the Lihue airport on the island of Kuau’i, we realized we had a good two hours or so to wait for our hosts to arrive on their flight. Since it was a tiny airport, I inquired at Information if it was possible to go somewhere to sit and have a drink while we waited. We were in luck! Just one mile away was a Marriott Hotel with a bar. All we needed to do was use the courtesy phone and ask the shuttle driver to come pick us up. There was no cost to us. {Except to tip the driver, of course!} SCORE!

Upon arrival, we lugged our two bags and Rob’s golf clubs all across the beautiful property of the Marriott Resort. We were weary travelers after a seven-hour flight, but we managed to find the bar {which we thought would be right inside the hotel – wrong!}. The haul was worth the extra time, effort and sweat in the humidity… because this open-air bar was situated just off the beach in a cove with a gorgeous view of the ocean! We sat at the end of the bar, where our luggage could be kept close by and ordered our first Hawaiian Mai Tais:

What a relaxing way to waste away a couple of hours! What’s more is that a guy was playing a ukelele in the background both to traditional and modern tunes! With the tropical Hawaiian breeze sifting through our hair, our vacation had begun. My second Hawaiian cocktail was a refreshing Pineapple Mojito!

Throughout the trip, we tried various cocktails and versions of the Mai Tai. Our hosts even experimented with concoctions of their own! Sure, we also had beer from time to time. I do love a good Corona on the beach. I know I’ve said told you that I’m a beer snob, but Corona is one lager I can appreciate for what it is. Besides, who doesn’t associate Corona with the beach? {Kudos to the Corona Marketing Department.} When we were out an about, I tried the local brews:

Maui Brewing Co. CoCoNut PorTer

But my absolute favorite Hawaiian beer was the Kona Brewing Company’s KoKo Brown Ale:

Kona Brewing Co. KoKo Brown Ale (Photo Source)

The KoKo Brown Ale is described as “ale brewed with toasted coconut.” Oh YUM! It was nutty and flavorful. I’m not a huge coconut fan when it comes to desserts, but the toasted stuff in chocolate and now in beer – a marriage made in heaven! Here is how Kona Brewing’s website describes it:

Is there anything more iconic of the lush tropics than the coconut? The delicious heart of this island treasure has a nutty, toffee flavor and aroma that sends you straight to the beaches of Paradise. Kick back with a Koko Brown, brewed with real toasted coconut, and savor the mahogany color and smooth, roasty malt taste.

Well said.

But other than trying a few Hawaiian brews here and there, I’d recommend sticking to the cocktails, because even when it comes to those, everything is more colorful in Hawaii.

I am a firm believer that we eat taste with our eyes as much as our tastebuds. Nearly every drink comes with one of those take-me-away-to-an-island umbrellas. In addition, I had to ask to make sure that I wasn’t the only one eating all of the pineapple garnishes! And when you get a cocktail that looks like this when you get it:

And then you stir it and looks like this…

Green Flash Cocktail at the Grove Café aka the Waimea Plantation

How can it get more fun than that!?

What was in this drink that Rob ordered do you ask? I have no idea – maybe something with coconut cream? But I do know it was yummy!

I had to try some fun cocktails that had liqueurs that represent the local fruits. We had lychee fruit while on the island, so I knew I had to try a drink that included the Hawaiian 808 Lychee Vodka:

808 Lychee Cosmopolitan {Do you see the rind from the eaten pineapple garnish!}

But perhaps my favorite cocktail was one that Rob ordered for me without my permission. 😉 We were at the airport for our 10pm departure, weary from the long day trying to pack and cram our last few hours on the golf course/beach. I went into one of the only gift shop in the airport and told Rob I’d just be a minute. I wanted to check out the certified pineapples {more on that in an upcoming post}. There were some other really cool items including a deal on cute t-shirts. After looking at sizes and deciding I hadn’t lost enough weight to be wearing t-shirts that tight, I finally left the gift shop empty-handed.

I found Rob in the airport bar. He had been waiting for me – apparently, for a much longer time than I had thought. The server walked over to his table with the drink in hand, but needed my ID for age verification. Ugh. I was so tired and full from dinner that I wasn’t sure I wanted a drink. But I sat down and accepted.

And boy was I glad I did! It was a creamy drink made with a Macadamia Nut Liqueur. Rob is allergic to macadamia nuts – something I forgot to include in this post, so this drink was ALL MINE! Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture, nor did I find out exactly was in it, but I found this photo online that looks pretty similar.

Yes, cocktails can be high-calorie.  But I wasn’t going to pass up trying some cocktails in Hawaii. Life’s too short. I just decided to go for quality over quantity! I sipped and savored when I ordered a drink I really loved, but passed on ordering a second. {And even when I wasn’t working on losing weight, I could never handle too many juice drinks anyway.}

So, for my tip on this Wine Wednesday, I’m telling you that wine may not always be the best option when you are traveling, or even at restaurant that offers wine, but it isn’t their specialty. Drink cocktails where they are made best. When in doubt, ask the bartender. They’ll hook you up.

Cheers~
Carrie

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