The Spirits of Maui

Hidden away from Maui’s endless beaches, hiking trails, waterfalls, tourist attractions, restaurants, golf courses and storefronts is a unique area of the island known as “upcountry,” where livestock and agriculture take top billing over surfing and snorkeling.

Just off the Kula Highway and just minutes from the Surfing Goat Dairy – also another worthwhile and delicious stop – is a somewhat unknown Hawaiian destination worth a visit.

Photo by Jessica Pearl courtesy of Ocean Vodka

Ocean Vodka Farm is an organic farm and liquor distillery that perched high enough to offer an elevated panoramic view of the Pacific on both the west and east sides of the island, high above the isthmus that separates the two volcanic masses that form Maui. It’s also the home of Ocean Organic Vodka and Deep Island Hawaiian Rum.

After many trips to Maui, I finally took the distillery tour last summer. Known for its unique artistic spherical bottle, Ocean Vodka is the only vodka made from organic sugar cane grown in the farms that surround the small distillery. The sugar cane-based mash is blended with deep ocean mineral water sourced 3,000 feet deep off the Kona coast of the island of Hawaii.

Photo by Jessica Pearl courtesy of Ocean Vodka

While sugar cane farms are disappearing on Maui the same way that citrus groves vanished throughout the Inland Empire, the 80-acre organic farm still offers one of the largest selections of sugar cane varieties in the world. There is plenty to support international distribution of Ocean Vodka, as well as Deep Island Hawaiian Rum. Also blended with deep ocean mineral water, the rum is enjoyable by itself or in any number of tropical cocktails.

Between shopping and sight seeing, an escape to upcountry is no more than an hour’s drive from most of the island’s beach resorts. It’s also a convenient detour on the way back from sunrise at the Haleakalā volcano, and likely one of our destinations when this blog posts.

If a road trip isn’t in your plans next time you’re on Maui, then fear not. Ocean Vodka and Deep Island Hawaiian Rum are both available at stores around the Hawaiian Islands and at many locations on the mainland.

Cocktails of the Month for September

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Pizza and Beer: A Match Made in a Mall

169-ieshienon-inland-empire-riverside-Pizza90-pizza-beer-14Pizza and beer are the perfect partnership. With the evolution of craft beer and gourmet pizza, finding the right combination isn’t always easy. Pizza:90 Riverside in the Galleria at Tyler Mall in Riverside has some sound solutions to making the right pairings. Read about those at IEShineOn.

Rapid Pace Keeps Wicks Brewing Co. Growing

40-ieshineon-inland-empire-wicks-brewing-co-redlands13There was no soft opening for Wicks Brewing Co. when it opened three years ago. The Riverside brewery came storming out of the gates with a full brewpub restaurant, craft beer operation and “brew on premises” system. The pace hasn’t slowed for Ryan Wicks and his father Brad. Check out the full story at IEShineOn.com.