Wandering Chef: Julie Reiner in Maui

Wandering Chef: Julie Reiner in Maui

Mixologist Julie Reiner keeps true to her Hawaiian roots with her cocktail programs at New York’s Flatiron Lounge and Brooklyn’s Clover Club. “I always use the freshest juices and spices,” she says. Now, Reiner, who grew up on Oahu, brings her big-city techniques to Maui. As beverage director of Andaz Maui, Reiner sources the best spirits. “I want to raise the bar on how cocktails are done in Hawaii.” Here, Reiner shares her island favorites.

“One of the first things I did with my bar staff was take a trip to the new Ocean vodka distillery in the middle of a sugarcane field. On a tour, we learned how the vodka is produced. The water comes from 3,000 feet below sea level and is organically purified. On its own, the water has a creamy texture, which carries through in the vodka. We got to taste cocktails under a beautiful vine-covered trellis. I’m using Ocean vodka at our bar in cocktails such as the Beijing Peach.” 4051 Omaopio Rd., Kula, (808) 877-0009, oceanvodka.com

“When I visit Maui, I crave the foods I grew up eating, such as Kalua pork, which is cooked in an underground oven called an imu. Da-Kitchen, a locals’ spot in Kihei, has really authentic dishes, some of which are an acquired taste. Hawaiians grow up on Spam, and you’ll see it in musubi, grilled Spam and rice wrapped with nori. At Da-Kitchen they deep- fry their version. I also get the teriyaki chicken plate lunch with rice and macaroni salad.” 2439 S. Kihei Rd. #107A, Kihei, (808) 875-7782, da-kitchen.com

“When traveling to Hana, the road is the journey. Many tourists are so eager to reach Hana that they miss the best parts of the drive. Take your time. I used a great book called Maui Revealed as my guide. It told me where to hike to beautiful waterfalls. You also pass tons of stands selling fruit and snacks. I always buy something because it’s a way to support the locals and sometimes you’re rewarded with a treat like delicious mango or banana bread or a perfectly ripe avocado.”

“Mama’s is one of my favorite Maui spots. The restaurant has beautiful woodwork and an old plantation house feel. There are two bars, one with a great tiki motif. The atmosphere is classy but casual. You can’t beat the location, overlooking Kuau Cove on Maui’s north shore. Ask for a table with a view of the water. I order a fish such as mahi mahi, opa, or uku. On my last visit, my mom ordered the crispy Kalua duck, which was fantastic.” 799 Poho Pl., Paia, (808) 579-8488, mamasfishhouse.com

Illustrations by Michael Hoeweler. This appeared in the January/February 2014 issue.

Jen grew up in Pt. Pleasant, NJ (yes, the Shore), escaped to school in Boston, and fell in love with travel when she went abroad to study in Australia. After nearly ten years of eating and drinking herself silly in NYC, she finally reached the west coast. Things that makes her happy: the ocean, books, mountains, bikes, friends, good beer, ice cream, unplanned adventures, football, live music.
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