By Carey Jones
Updated April 25, 2016
Kalani; cocktails; 3 ingredients
Credit: © Carey Jones

There aren’t many spirits we refuse to drink. But coconut-flavored rums? Won’t touch ‘em. We’ve just never found one that doesn’t remind us of sunscreen, carrying that super-fake “coconut” scent.

But fear not coconut lovers, there is a way to get the flavor you’re looking for without the Banana Boat scent: Kalani. The first liqueur we’ve ever found with a vivid, bright coconut flavor, it’s made in the Yucatan Peninsula with Mexican coconuts and rum (rather than chemicals, and more chemicals), and adds a little tropical accent to any drink you pour it into. Rum is an obvious pairing, but tequila and even vodka work, too. Try it in these three cocktails and you’ll get a sense of Kalani’s versatility.

Easy: Rum-Coconut Old Fashioned

Here, we let a good añejo rum take center stage, using just a little Kalani to sweeten it up and contribute a gentle coconut flavor. Easy as an Old Fashioned. An Old Fashioned that you’d drink on the beach, that is.

Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine 2 ounces of dark rum (we like Brugal Añejo), 1/2 ounce of Kalani, a dash of orange bitters and a dash of Angostura. Stir all that up until very well-chilled and the ice begins to melt. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a lime peel, making sure to twist it over the surface of the drink to spray its citrus oils on top.

Intermediate: Tequila-Coconut Rickey

Coconut, lime, and tequila — can you imagine a better summer sipper? It takes just a minute to shake this guy together and top it off with a few big glugs of club soda, and the result is so refreshing, you’ll have to stop yourself from drinking half a dozen.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 2 ounces of silver tequila, 1/2 ounce of fresh lime juice, and 1/2 ounce of Kalani. Shake all that up well, then strain into a tall glass with fresh ice. Top with 2 ounces of club soda. Garnish with a lime wheel or few.

Advanced: Tom Kha Kai Martini

If we saw a coconut-vodka “Thai” martini on a cocktail list, we’d be a little skeptical. But ever since we tried a drink with coconut, lemongrass, kaffir lime, and chili in Chiang Mai, we haven’t been able to get the flavors out of our heads. Vodka is a simple backdrop for all these Southeast Asian flavors, while lime brightens it up and the Kalani adds a creamy coconut flavor and body. All in all, it tastes just like the Thai soup tom kha kai. Plus vodka. And without chicken.

Instructions: In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle 3 slivers of birds-eye chili, 2 kaffir lime leaves (tear them up first), and a 1/2 inch segment of lemongrass. Smash that all up hard, then add 2 ounces of vodka, 1 ounce of fresh lime juice, 1/2 ounce of Kalani, and ice. Shake it all up and double strain — through the cocktail shaker’s own strainer, and through a fine mesh strainer — into a cocktail glass. Garnish with another kaffir lime leaf, a little lemongrass, and a chili.