Syrups by Mōhala Expressions Put Hawai‘i’s Wildflowers and Plants Into Your Glass

Foraging for cocktails.
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Photo: Aaron K. Yoshino

 

Stir butterfly ginger blossom syrup into soda water and transport yourself into a Hawai‘i forest, sultry with the scent of tropical flowers after a warm rain. Or add a splash of kukui nut orgeat into your mai tai or lemonade for a toasty richness that will have you appreciating that hard, oily nut anew. But really, Mōhala Expressions’ syrups—mōhala means to unfold or blossom—have us looking at and tasting many of Hawai‘i’s wild fruits and flowers afresh, like the fig leaf with its coconut aroma and the Surinam cherry with its resinous finish.

 

Sarah Stephens, who launched her line of syrups made from mostly foraged ingredients last year, says her mom was a “huge plant nerd” and instilled the same curiosity for wild plants in her daughter. Stephens says she would always wonder “what things were and if I could eat it.” The answer? A surprising yes to flowers such as bougainvillea and West Indian jasmine, which she forages for restaurants including Castro’s in Waikīkī and Heiho House in Kaimukī.

 

SEE ALSO: Castro’s Brings Soulful Cuban Food to the Edge of Waikīkī

 

 

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She started melding her discoveries on Hawai‘i’s hiking trails with more than a decade of bartending skills, mixing tart Java plum into margaritas and butterfly ginger blossom syrup (infused with white and yellow ginger flowers) into Old Fashioneds. Alongside the lemony wood sorrel, her line of staple syrups also features more familiar fruits like liliko‘i and strawberry guava. And throughout the year, she’ll make small seasonal batches, such as one with fennel seeds gathered on a trip to Maui, flavoring our drinks with her wild discoveries.

 

 

Syrups are $10 for 4 ounces. @mohalaexpressions