How did you get a job there?
I helped to open it.
What spirit do you like to work with the most? what is the last drink you made with it?
I love tequila and whiskey mostly. I recently made a drink called the Makawao Ave with Makers Mark Bourbon, lemon, Angostura Bitters, honey and a housemade cayenne-ginger beer. It’s surprisingly refreshing.
What is the last incredible wine or beer you drank? What made it spectacular?
I like it all! I really love beaujolais and have been enjoying the Jean Foillard ‘Cuvee Corcellette’. I like it because it is pure and pretty with soft texture and just a hint of of earthiness.
If you could change one thing about the drinks business on Maui what would it be?
I wish people were more curious and adventurous.
What is your favorite happy hour on Maui? Why?
What is your bar’s signature drink?
I think the Monkeypod Mai Tai for sure. I have other favorites, but it is just one of those drinks you can’t miss out on trying.
What is YOUR signature drink?
Ho’opono Potion (tequila, aperol, lime, simple syrup and muddled cucumber)
When you are making a cocktail what is the most important thing?
That it is balanced and refreshing. Not too sweet, not too rancid.
Who or what influences you outside of the beverage business?
My best friend owns a native plant nursery in Kula that inspires me. I also read a lot.
Let’s say you’re pitching an investor who wants you to open your ultimate bar. What is your concept? Where is it located?
I would love to open a vegetarian soul food restaurant with an all organic wine list and cocktails named after Prince songs, maybe in Paia or Wailuku.
Name one new liquor you tasted recently. What was your impression?
I recently tasted yellow Chartreuse which I hadn’t tried in a while. It’s less strong and pungent as the green version, but very complex and interesting.
What are your regulars like?
We have all sorts of fascinating regulars which is great.
What is one interesting thing about being a bartender on Maui?
Working with such amazing people.
What makes a good bartender? Why are you one?
Patience, willingness to smile (even under duress) and dedication to mastering your craft.
What is the newest drink you have created? Describe whats in it.
I’m really into gin right now and am working on a drink called the Owl & Pussycat (named after the children’s book) with gin, Pimms, ginger syrup, lemon and grapefruit bitters.
MONKEYPOD KITCHEN HAPPY HOUR – Daily. Daily happy hour featuring $8 Specialty Cocktails, $6 Ocean vodka drinks, $4.75 draft beers, $6 selected glass pours, $9 pizzas, and half off select appetizers. 3-5:30pm and 9-11pm. Monkeypod Kitchen, (10 Wailea Gateway Pl., Unit B-201, Wailea); 808-891-2322;http://www.monkeypodkitchen.com
About Jen Russo
I write lifestyle and culinary columns for MauiTime. I love being a Maui girl and adore my big family. Dedicated food taster, blogger, internet fanatic, and Maui and Hawaii specialist.