The Cocktail Handbook, Hawaii Cocktails with Amie Fujiwara and Jesse Greenleaf

John Heckathorn
Amie Fujiwara and Jesse Greenleaf at the book launch for the new compendium of drink recipes, The Cocktail Handbook. Duke's Waikiki

 It was a warm afternoon on the lanai at Duke’s Waikiki.  Still, the line to get signed copies stretched half an hour or more long.

Authors Amie Fujiwara and Jesse Greenleaf wrote personal notes to almost everyone who’d just bought a copy of their new Watermark release, The Cocktail Handbook: Cool Drinks from Hawaii’s Hottest Bartenders.

"We have to," said Greenleaf, shaking off writer’s cramp.  "We know most of these people.  They’re our regular customers, they’re our friends."

You make a lot of friends in 15 years behind the bar.  Fujiwara and Greenleaf, best friends since high school, now partners both in life and behind the bar at Duke’s, often successful contenders in drink competitions, are now coauthors as well. 

Their new Cocktail Handbook contains more than 80 drink recipes, their own and those of other bar veterans around the state.   There are 14 Mai Tai recipes alone, not to mention drinks you’ve never encountered like Calypso Carla’s Coconut Coochie-Choochie-Coo or Double-Down Don’s Drunken Diablo.

All the drinks have an Island touch, often including ingredients from Fujiwara and Greenleaf’s home "bar garden."

It may have helped the spirits of the crowd that Greenleaf spent 2-1/2 hours beforehand, readying two drinks from two’s ensemble:  Hawaiian Islands Iced Tea and Afternoon Delight.

The Afternoon Delight (a nicely balanced passion fruit and Mandarin orange vodka concoction) was especially appropriate.  Says Fujiwara, "It’s a lighter version of Jesse’s drink called The Charley." (Don’t count on it being light.)

Greenleaf came up with The Charley at a book launch for humorist Charley Memminger’s Hey Waiter, There’s an Unbrella in My Drink!  

While making Charleys for Charley, Greenleaf met Watermark Publishing’s Dawn Sakamoto, who asked, "You ever think of writing a cocktail book?"

"We didn’t think it would take five years," says Fujiwara, but they also had son Oliver in the meantime.

If you’d like to meet the two in person, they will be signing books this Saturday (3/19), 12-1 p.m., at Barnes & Noble Ala Moana and next Saturday (3/26), 1-2 p.m., Barnes & Noble Kahala.  No alcohol in bookstores, so they can’t make you a drink.

If you like to make your own Afternoon Delight (equally pleasant in the evening), Fujiwara and Greenleaf will show you how in the video below.