After discovering the only way to access a cocktail at four seasons resort hualalai’s palm grove Pool Bar is to swim there, guests find themselves surrounded by a garden of intoxicating aromas. Mint, lavender, several varieties of basil, cilantro, lemongrass, rosemary and parsley are among the herbs cultivated by mixologist/head bartender Cory Starr at his tony bar-accessible only to registered hotel guests and Hualalai homeowners. Hawaiian chili peppers are also grown in the custom wood boxes lining three sides of the bar and featured prominently in many of the drinks. No surprise, as Starr, an Arizona native, is big on adding heat to his cocktails-something he says is currently all the rage at bars around the world.

Starr, who joined the food and beverage team at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai in 2011 when the Palm Grove Pool Bar debuted, says the “Farm to Bar” concept emerged as a natural extension of the resort’s commitment to locally grown, sustainably cultivated products throughout its award-winning restaurants (‘ULU Ocean Grill + Sushi Lounge, Beach Tree and Hualalai Grille). Th e 12 carefully conceived and crafted signature “Farm to Bar” cocktails are available exclusively at the Palm Grove Bar-one of several at the resort-ensuring absolutely “arms-length-away” fresh-from-the-garden ingredients, Starr says.

“Each year, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts’ bartenders compete for the most innovative, delicious cocktail using ingredients sourced from within a 100-mile radius of the individual properties worldwide. My first year here, I won the competition with a cocktail I named Hokuwai (star water) using Oceans Maui Vodka, Hawai’i Island starfruit, ginger, basil, lemon, honey and finished with a black sea salt rim. It’s that competition that was the catalyst for adding “Farm to Bar” to the Zen-themed concept originally in place here at Palm Grove,” Starr says.

The fact that he is passionate about gardening with a decidedly super green thumb combined with an obsession for blending layers of fresh flavor in his drinks, and infusing spirits with everything from his beloved peppers and herbs to Hawai’i-grown vanilla and honey, also helped move the concept forward.

“Of course, it’s great fun having the very best of the best ingredients to use, and my goal with these cocktails is to enhance the culinary experience for our guests. Cocktail pairings can be just as good and just as interesting as wine pairings. In fact, chefing and bartending really go hand in hand-selecting and combining the best ingredients available in creative dishes and cocktails,” Starr says.

And while some of the menu classics such as the Zen Garden-the libation Starr says really encompasses the entire Palm Grove Pool Bar theme-will always be on the menu, Starr changes things up quarterly to keep things interesting and to incorporate some of Hawai’i Island’s most unique, seasonal ingredients such as calamansi limes, dragon fruit, lychee, starfruit and Surinam cherries. Th e Zen Garden is a tasty, tranquil blend of

Momokawa Sake, housemade green tea liqueur, basil, mint, lime juice and agave.

The Palm Grove Signature Mojitos-served up in three palate-pleasing flavors-and Palm Grove Signature Classics such as the Mai Tai and Bloody Mary are also permanent “residents” on the menu.

Add to these dazzling offerings one of the property’s most popular cocktails-Late to the Party-a drink Starr gladly shakes and strains for guests with the inside scoop and know to request it. We asked Starr to if he could share the recipe and happily obliged.

What to expect throughout 2014? Possibly a garden expansion, developing a hothouse to grow even more produce, including citrus, tomatoes and much more, and introducing more house-made mixes such as local honey infused with Honaka’a-grown vanilla, and syrup from the Palm Grove’s own lemongrass. We say, bring it on.

www.fourseasons.com/hualalai

MUST-SIP COCKTAIL RECIPE: LATE TO THE PARTY

Ingredients:
5 garden-fresh raspberries
2 slices of jalapeño peppers
1.5 ounces of Patron Añejo Tequila
2 ounces agave/lime sour mix (housemade)

Method:

Muddle 4 raspberries and one slice of jalapeño pepper. Place mix into cocktail shaker.

Add Patron Añejo Tequila and agave/lime sour mix. Shake and strain over ice. Garnish with one raspberry and one slice of pepper.

Enjoy!