Virgin Island Kula

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.

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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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