Virgin Island Kula | Cocktail Party

Virgin Island Kula

Virgin Island Kula tiki cocktail with apricot brandy (or liqueur), gin, aged rum, orange and lime juices, simple syrup, orgeat, and soda water

One of the great challenges in preserving vintage cocktail recipes is adapting them to suit modern palates and changing ingredients. The Virgin Island Kula is a prime example of a recipe that, counter-intuitively, must be changed in order to stay the same.

Invented by Ray Buhen, founder of Hollywood’s famous Tiki-Ti restaurant, the recipe is almost undrinkably sweet when made to the original specs, published in Beachbum Berry’s excellent Potions of the Caribbean. This is because, 60-odd years later, things like oranges and lemons and even apricot liqueur are often sweeter than they used to be.

We’ve modified the recipe to prefer a dry, European-style apricot brandy, which offsets the sweetness. If you do use apricot liqueur, you should omit the simple syrup; if that’s not sweet enough, add simple syrup or orgeat a teaspoon at a time until it’s to your liking.



Shake everything (except the sparkling water) with ice. Strain into a tall ice-filled glass and top with the sparkling water. Garnish with a cherry and a slice of orange or lime.

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