As a volleyball player and coach for many years, Nohelani Ader found that playing a sport doesn’t pay well, so she would serve cocktails on the side at a sand volleyball bar. “One year one of my athlete’s parent asked what I did on the side. I told him I was a server. He asked if I wanted to learn how to bartend, because he was the GM of a popular biker bar,” she recalls. “I accepted and haven’t looked back. In 2017 I moved back home to Hawaii and realized I wanted to become better at craft cocktails.” We asked Nohelani to tell us more.
Where do you tend bar now? What makes it unique?
I bartend at Teddy Roe which is a speakeasy themed cocktail bar. We are a reservation-based location within a Rome themed restaurant, behind a small bakery.
Who has been most influential in your development as a bartender?
I give the USBG Hawaii chapter a lot of credit to my success, but my main mentor who saw me, pushed me, and continues to check up on me is Ben Flores from Oahu, Hawaii.
Do you have any advice for novice/at home bartenders?
All palates are correct! Everyone’s palates are forever changing and what you taste, and smell is right. Never allow someone to dim your light because you’re starting. Learn to understand your own learning curve of tasting and keep going!
What is your favorite ingredient right now and why?
Lychee, because I am a tropical woman.
How do you go about creating a cocktail? Is there a specific process or simply a moment of inspiration?
I first understand the base spirit (if it’s a competition), taste and research the history/background. Then I want to figure out the theme of which I’m going for (or the theme chosen for a competition.) If there’s a certain vibe or theme I’m focused on, I’ll go from there. Moving forward I love to refer to the flavor bible to see other options of flavor profiles that combines well.
Do you have a special technique you use or a tip for making a particular drink?
How I’ve learned to understand my palate better is learning how to smell! Weird I know. While I’m building a cocktail with each single ingredient, I take a nice smell into the shaker or tin. You can firsthand smell what is mixing from the start before diluting. This allows me to not over dilute if something is missing. Basically, smell test it before shaking with ice!
Where do you see the bartending/cocktail culture headed?
I see a lot more themed pop-up bars coming around and more RTD cocktails! Maybe even more gastronomy styled bars!
Cruise Down Kaimuki
- 1 1/2 oz Coconut oil washed Bombay Sapphire*
- 1 oz Citric acid powder adjusted aloe juice
- 1/4 oz Lihing-Mui infused Cocchi Americano**
- 1/4 oz Mango skin oleo***
- 5 drops cherry blossom Shoyu
Preparation: Add all ingredients to a tin and throw for light dilution. Add drops of cherry blossom Shoyu.
*Coconut oil washed Bombay Sapphire: Use unfiltered coconut oil, as it is easy to melt and infuse with the Bombay. Mix well for 2-3 hours and place in the freezer for 24 hours. Remove solid oil chunks from Bombay.
**Lihing-Mui infused Cocchi Americano: Place 1 seed to 6oz of Cocchi. Allow to infuse for 2 hours. Shake well.
***Mango skin oleo: Chop only mango skins into tiny pieces. Place white sugar over top and allow sugar to pull out the remaining juices from the skins naturally. In about 24 hours, fine strain the oleo from the solids.