July 16th, 2015
Yard House has introduced a quintet of new handcrafted cocktails to help you beat the summer heat, borrowing from the romance of the past.
Noting that shows like "Mad Men" and "Boardwalk Empire" have given new life to forgotten drinks, the company's executive chef Carlito Jocson creating the new cocktail collection:
Blood & Smoke: Blood orange and ancho chili spiced margarita made with Del Maguey “Vida” mezcal, El Jimador Silver tequila, Ancho Reyes, Monin Blood Orange, house-made citrus agave and aromatic bitters poured into a salt-rimmed glass.
Bourbon Berry Sour: Made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, housemade citrus agave, Dekuyper Razzmatazz, orange bitters and raspberries for added sweetness.
Hibiscus Rose: A refreshing herbal and botanical gin martini featuring Bulldog gin, St. Germain and Lillet Blanc with orange bitters and Monin Hibiscus.
Sidecar: This classic cocktail steps into the 21st century with D’Ussé VSOP cognac, Cointreau and housemade citrus agave poured into a sugar-rimmed glass.
Cucumber Citrus Tonic: A light, spa-like drink made with Bulldog gin, Aperol, house-made citrus agave, tonic, cucumber and orange plus orange bitters.
You can probably tell the Hibiscus Rose and Cucumber Citrus Tonic are the more female-friendly drinks; the latter was especially refreshing on a very humid Friday evening.
I also enjoyed the Blood & Smoke on its own, though thinking those smokey notes would probably go great with a burger or steak.
The restaurant also added a few new dishes to its summer menu, including Nashville Hot Chicken, a Tennessee variation on Southern fried chicken, inspired by Jocson’s recent visit to the city where it is every bit the local institution as the loco moco and laulau are in Honolulu.
According to area lore, Thorton Prince was served fried chicken doused with extra pepper as punishment after a late night out on the town, but he enjoyed it so much that he and his brothers perfected the recipe and opened Prince's Hot Chicken in the mid-1930s. It's still going strong today.
I can see why. For one thing, who doesn't love fried chicken? This is a twist on the fried chicken and waffle idea, the waffles swapped here for a trio of small sweet potato pancakes.
Then, I love spicy food, and this combines chipotle and pepper with a crisped exterior, and sour-honey hot sauce to help cut some of the heat, though for me, it could have been way hotter.
It's also served with ranch dressing and pickles, and topped with crispy sage.
At the other end of the country, Jocson's trip to Portland fueled the addition of Crispy Duck Wings to the menu. It has a vaguely Southeast Asian appeal, tossed with a maple-sambal soy glaze and toasted sesame seeds, then served with an herb salad of cilantro, basil and mint with red onion, all flavors well-represented in Vietnamese and Thai restaurants here.
Other Yard House classics have been updated, such as grilled Korean pork belly now served with kimchi sour cream and green onions, a Cobb salad with several protein options, and a Cobb with kale option.
The California Roll, a staple on the Yard House menu for most of the restaurant’s 18-year history, has also been refreshed, and fans need not worry about the change, which I think is an improvement. The usual white rice now spends time on the grill to get the bottoms nice and crisp. The texture is wonderful.
It's also worth noting that guests who opt to participate in Yard House's Round It Up America program can have their tabs rounded up to the nearest dollar as a painless way to put your spare change to work helping national and local non-profit causes.
Dince 2010, RIUA has raised more than $2 million that has gone toward feeding the hungry, culinary scholarships, international disaster relief, assistance to military families and veterans, and more.
Guests who want to round up when visiting Yard House can ask their server or bartender for more details.
Yard House is at Waikiki Beach Walk, 226 Lewers St. Call (808) 923-9273 or visit www.yardhouse.com.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.