Hawaiian Noir

Murder Calls

My Two Ukes

Kala Waterman ukeGot myself a Kala Waterman uke. We saw these in Maui Nix surf shop in Daytona last month and I had to have one. It’s made of acrylic and is ideal for taking to the beach, the lake, out in a canoe or a boat. Getting it wet won’t hurt it. Even though it is acrylic and not wood, this is not a toy. The sound is sweet and the notes clear.
Lanikai Pineapple uke
My other uke, which I’ve had for four years, is a hand-crafted Lanikai pineapple. The sides are made of eastern mahogany and the neck is rosewood. Like the Waterman, it is a soprano (GCEA tuning). The tone is more mellow than guitar-shaped ukes. The body has more volume than the Waterman, which gives if a slightly fuller sound than the Waterman.
At $49, the Kala Waterman is about half the price of the Lanikai, so it is a real bargain. The difference, of course, is the hand-crafting of the Lanikai. Regardless, one does not have to spend a lot of money for a quality ukulele. I can not tell you which one is more fun to play, though the Waterman is great for strumming while lying in the hammock.Wastin’ Away Again
I like the looks of both. I have always thought that pineapple shape makes for a great looking instrument and the clear, bright-colored Waterman is just cool looking. The Waterman, by the way, comes in a wide range of bright colors.
If you’re fretting (pun intended) about tax day, get yourself an uke and chill.

Island Music

One of the things I like best about Hawai`i is the music. Almost anywhere you go, you can find music and catch a performance of some kind. We were fortunate enough to catch at least one performance nearly every day of this trip. The Courtyard Marriott featured live music every evening. They were mostly local performers with a wide range of talent. We didn’t catch the names of most of the performers, but being that the bar provided a somewhat intimate setting, there was a lot of audience participation. We requested Hi`ilawe from one duo, which got us into a discussion of Gabby Pahinui who made the song famous.

On Friday night we heard Pancho Graham at the Hukilau Lanai near our hotel. Graham is Na Hoku Hano Hano award winning musician who can be heard on the soundtrack of The Descendants. The Na Hokus are the Grammies for Hawaiian music. The Hukilau Lanai was also a very intimate setting.

The only evening we did not catch a performance was the evening we stayed at the Volcano House. Volcano House, on the rim of Kilauea caldera had only recently reopened after the eruption. Their kitchen had not opened yet and they had not booked performers.

The bar of the Grand Naniloa in Hilo also had performers every night. Sometimes two groups. None of them were famous, but some will be. One group was led by a teenager playing the ukulele backed by his grandfather and uncle on guitars. I wish I had gotten his name because he was great. We’ll be hearing more of him.

We scheduled our arrival on Oahu for Sunday morning so we could hear the Royal Hawaiian Band which performs every Sunday afternoon in Kapiolani Park. The Royal Hawaiian Band is the oldest, full time performing, municipal band in the United States. It was founded in 1836 by King Kamehameha III and has been in continuous existence ever since. It is now an agency of the City and County of Honolulu. In addition to the Sunday performances, the band performs every Friday noon at Iolani Palace and special events around the state.

Sunday evening, we attended a performance by the trio, Puamana, at the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame. We were invited to the performance by one of the members of the group, Mihana Souza, whom we had known when we lived in Kailua in the 1980’s. The Souzas lived only a few houses from us. Their daughter went to school with my son and played Little League together. Puamana was formed by Irmgard Farden Aluli, Mihana’s mother. Auntie Irmgard was a prolific composer of Hawaiian music, with over 200 songs to her credit, second only to Queen Lili`uokalani in output. She was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame in 1998 and died at age 89 in 2001. The group continued under the direction of Mihana and received a lifetime achievement award from the Hawai`i Academy of Recording Arts in 2015. Here is the group performing before Auntie Irmgard’s death. I think that is Mihana playing base.

And I can’t end without mentioning the performance every evening at sunset at the House Without A Key in the Halekulani Hotel. It is a gorgeous hotel in an historic location. the House Without a Key sits on the sight of a former guest house where Earl Derr Biggers once stayed and which became the setting for the first Charlie Chan mystery. Every night you can catch a performance of a trio and a dancer. On the night we were there, the dancer was Miss Hawaii 2015.

The Tiki Bar Is Open

This Aloha Friday, the featured drink is a ginger martini, which they served at Hukilau Lanai. This drink requires a bit of preparation of the ginger syrup. It’s probably best offered to company when you can prepare the ginger syrup in a batch ahead of time.

Ginger Syrup

Peel a whole lemon and place in a food processor with two cups of fresh, coarsely chopped ginger, peel and all. Finely chop the lemon and ginger mixture. Place in a saucepan with one cup of sugar and two cups of water. bring to a boil and simmer for fifteen minutes. Strain the mixture and let it cool. You can refrigerate it up to a week.

Or you can buy the syrup in the bottle from Amazon, Whole Foods, and probably any well-stocked liquor store.

Ginger Martini

In a shaker add 3oz. Vodka, 1/2 to 1 oz. ginger syrup, 1/2 teaspoon lime juice. Shake over ice, strain into a stem glass and garnish with a twist of lemon.

Aloha!

Kaua’i, 2018

The Hawai’i 2018 trip kicked off on Wednesday, October 10. The shuttle left College Station at 4:00 am for Houston. We left Houston at 10:00, non-stop to Honolulu. Arrived at 1:30 and caught a 3:00 flight to Lihue, arriving at 4:00. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott at Coconut Beach in Kapa’a. Kapa’a is a quaint town on the east side of Kaua’i. We had never been to Kapa’a. On previous trips we’d stayed in Princeville, or Koloa, or Lihue. Our purpose on this trip was to take part in Ni’ihau Day at the Kaua’i Museum. More about that in another post.

Kaua’i and Ni’ihau are the oldest of the inhabited islands. Ni’ihau is wholly owned by the Robinson family and cannot be visited without permission, which is never given to casual visitors. Kaua’i is home to gorgeous beaches, rugged mountain trails and the wettest place on earth, Mount Waialele.

Kaua’i has seen its share of natural disasters, In 1992, it was struck full on by hurricane Iniki, which occurred during the filming of Jurassic Park. The aftermath of the hurricane can still be seen in the number of wild chickens around the island. When the hurricane struck, it liberated the island’s chickens from their coops and no one was able to round them all up afterwards. As a result, wild chickens are everywere on Kaua’i. At the supermarket, you might just find a wild chicken sitting in your grocery cart. They have become symbols of the island. Of course, Iniki liberated some chickens on the other islands as well, but not nearly to the extent on Kaua’i. This Spring, Kaua’i was struck by torrential rains in April, which caused serious flooding and property damage to Kaua’i, especially in the Hanalei area. The remnants of hurricane Lane in August added more damage. Over twenty landslides closed Highway 560 between Hanalei and Haena. The highway is still undergoing repair and we could not get to Lumahai Beach as we hoped.

Food, or, as they say in the islands, grindz.

1AEE2E61-D645-4328-9A5E-EB98E56BE541First stop after picking up a car in Lihue, was Foodland for some Hawaiian-style ahi poke, some seaweed salad, and some gin and tonic. Dinner. Nothing beats poke. It’s cubes of raw ahi tuna mixed with soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, sliced onions and chopped green onions. The recipe varies. Some people add rice vinegar, furitake, maybe some chili paste, garlic, or sriracha. It can also be made with yellow fin tuna, swordfish, or cooked octopus (tako) or cooked salmon. My favorites are the ahi and the tako.

Breakfast each day on Kaua’i was bagel, coffee and yoghurt, which we ate at the beach.

One evening we went to the Hukulau Lanai to hear a musician and had candied ahi. I can’t tell you what was in it, but it was one more form of poke. Another night we had dinner at Smith’s Luau on the Wailua River. The food was usual luau fare: Kailua pork, Lomi Lomi salmon, lau lau and poi. I’ll do another post on the luau. Suffice to say Smith’s is one of the best luaus.

We found an out of this world saimin place near our hotel. Saimin, if you’ve never had it, is one of the best grindz in Hawai’i. It is a noodle soup with influences from Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese and Hawaiian. The restaurant is called Saimin Dojo. I had the garlic shmoke saimin with pork belly, soft egg, veggies, rice noodles and broth (above bottom left.) Mary Fran had the chicken katsu (a fried chicken cutlet) with curry sauce(bottom right.)

Another must have grind is plate lunch. We wanted to get to Smiley’s in Lihue, but 1D2F07F7-A044-4CCB-ACF0-A1D9A581E0E2we were too late. They were closing. The server directed us to Kalena Fish Market about two blocks away. If we hadn’t been given directions and if it hadn’t been recommended, we would have passed it up. It is a small shop in an old building surrounded by warehouses and light industry. It’s a place that those who work nearby know, but few others know. The decor is functional, the menu limited. Cash only. A lot of guys from the shops came in while we were there. The food was good. Basic plate lunch style. Three protein choices and four sides. All tasty and filling. We shared a plate of kalbi ribs, shoyu chicken, meat jun (thinly sliced beef fried in an egg batter.

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Kalena Fish Market

Learn about it here). It came with rice, kimchi, eggplant and some mixed vegetables.

One other unique food item on Kaua’i is Puka Dog. A puka dog is a hollowed out Hawaiian bun, which is toasted on a special rack that toasts the inside. Then a sweet relish (pineapple, lilikoi, and others) is poured in followed by a polish sausage and topped with a variety of mustards. We had it at the stand in Poipu. I thought it was an interesting concept, but not spectacular. I would not go out of my way for it.2AD5FF22-832E-4F65-BAC3-567D7FD6EBD3

The Tiki Bar is open

The drink for this weekend is Mai Tai. The basic Mai Tai, as created by Vic Bergeron (Trader Vic) consists of orgeat syrup, orange curaçao, light rum, dark rum, the juice of one lime, garnished with mint and the lime husks. Mai Tai means “out of this world” in Tahitian. When preparing it, you mix the syrup, curaçao, and light rum together with ice and float the dark rum on top. It should be a two-tone drink with a light golden color on the bottom and a dark brown color on top. Some variations use a mix of fruit juices such as orange, lilikoi, pineapple, or sour mix as the base.

There are two kinds of Mai Tai drinkers—those who stir the Mai Tai and those who don’t. I prefer to not stir. I alternate sips of the dark rum with sips through a straw of the light mixture. However, i recommend that you watch how the bartender prepares it. If it is a cheap Mai Tai, the bartender might simply float dark rum on top of fruit juices with no light rum or curaçao. In that case, stir.

We had a lot of Mai Tais. Our hotel served $3.50 Mai Tais everyday from 11 to 3 pm. The best Mai Tai on his trip was not on Kaua’i, but at the Halekulani Hotel bar, the House Without A Key in Honolulu. It was made the Trader Vic way and came with gorgeous sunset, a trio of musicians performing under a century-old kiawe tree, and Miss Hawai’i 2015 performing hula. Out of this world!

 

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Kamoa Ukulele Shop, Kapaa, Kauai

New addition to the Troy family. A Koaloha soprano ukulele. Mary Fran bought it for me at Kamoa Ukuleles in Kapaa, Kauai on Monday. So maybe this should be Ukulele Monday. It was our last day on Kauai and I wasn’t able to post until now.

Here it is: The body is koa, The neck and head are rosewood. the fretboard is ebony. The inlays are pua abalone. She sounds as good as she looks.

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Koaloha koa uke

I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted a Kamaka. Kamoa had only one Kamaka. This one just sounded better.

Look at the beautiful grain of the koa body.

Now I need to name her. Any suggestions?

2017-02-02 18.19.14Haven’t posted in awhile because I’ve been busy editing Questions Of Loyalty and getting it to my agent. The edits were completed Monday and sent to Beth. Now waiting to hear from her.

Magnum P.I. Reboot

Watched the new Magnum on Monday. I had hoped to be impressed by it, but was somewhat disappointed. The show had plenty of humor and action, which means car chases.  Jay Hernandez is a lot different from Tom Selleck as Magnum. No eyebrow waggle, no trademark aloha shirts. He’s a good action character and maybe will develop some depth. I have to admit that I’m glad he’s not Selleck. I think I’ve got more than enough Selleck in Blue Bloods and the Jesse Stone shows.

The supporting cast is the biggest disappointment. The new Rick and T.C. don’t cut it, in my opinion, but I’ll keep an open mind about them. As with the Hawai`i Five O reboot, they added a kick-ass female. The Higgins character is now a woman. John Hillerman was great in that role and will be missed. I’m hoping Perdita Weeks will be up to it.

Locale. We see Magnum paddling near Chinaman’s hat. Is that where Robin Masters’s home Is? As with the old Magnum and the new Hawai`i Five O, do not take your geography of the islands from the show. Why are there so many chase scenes up or down Tantalus? Sure, the road is winding and the views of Honolulu and the University of Hawai`i are beautiful from up there, but the road doesn’t go anywhere. It is a loop past a park and some expensive homes and back down again. It is not a short cut or direct route to anyplace on Oahu. Nobody would lead pursuers up there because all the pursuers need do is wait at the bottom for them to come back down. And if you miss a high speed turn and crash down the side of the mountain, as did the bad guys in Monday’s episode, you will not land in the ocean, but on a roof top in Manoa Valley or even Punahou School.

So much for my critique. I don’t need to tell readers that I like violent action, car chases and kick-ass babes in Hawai`i. I will be tuning in again on Monday.

 

Upcoming trip

We’re going back to Hawai`i. This is Mary Fran’s birthday trip. The last trip was for my seventieth birthday, so now it is Mary Fran’s turn. We are so excited.

Here’s the itinerary:

Depart Houston, Oct. 10, nonstop to Honolulu

Depart Honolulu, Oct. 10 and arrive Lihue Kauai

  • Staying Courtyard Marriott Coconut Beach
  • Sight-seeing Thurs. and Fri. Drinking mai tais in Hanalei, maybe visit some music shops to check out ukuleles
  • Saturday: Niihau Day at Kauai Museum. This is a once a year event to celebrate the culture of Niihau.
  • More sight-seeing on Sunday

Monday, Oct. 15, fly to Kona on the Big Island

  • Staying Marriott Waikoloa
  • Sight-seeing, doing research for next Ava Rome novel, specifically hope to explore Koa rain forests. Maybe do some paddle-boarding.
  • Thursday, Oct. 18, one night in Volcano House, which is planning to reopen on Oct. 14, having been closed because of the Kilauea eruptions.
  • Friday, Oct. 19, drive to Hilo
  • Staying Hilton Naniloa which is right on Hilo Bay on Banyan Tree Drive
  • Explore Hilo and the Hamakua Coast

Sunday, Oct, 21, Depart Hilo for Honolulu

  • Staying at the Moana, the oldest hotel in Waikiki
  • Mai tais at the Royal Hawaiian
  • Sunset at House Without a Key in the Halekulani

Tuesday, Oct. 23, depart Honolulu

Wednesday, Oct. 24, arrive Houston

Aloha

 

I don’t know where I’m a gonna go when the volcano blows.

Hawai’i is burning. Fissures are opening on the East slope of Kilauea destroying homes and threatening the lives of more than a thousand residents. The danger comes not only from lava, but also from toxic gases emitted by the volcano. Now comes possibility of a new danger at the summit. According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the lava lake in Halemaumau crater in Kilauea Caldera is draining due to the eruption at the lower levels. the concern is that the lake will drain down below the water table, which could cause a steam explosion that could send boulders rocks and ash into the air. Authorities have closed Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park as a precaution. An explosion in the caldera could do serious damage to Volcano House, which sits on the edge of the caldera.

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Lava in Halemaumau Crater

Here are two images of Halemaumau Crater in Kilauea Caldera taken last year from the observation deck of Volcano House. The lava fountain you see in the night photo is estimated to be about sixty feet high.

Even in daylight, the eruption is impressive, although the lava itself is hard to see. Only smoke is visible in daylight. that smoke contains the toxic gases that are threatening the health of people in the subdivisions on the East slope.

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Kilauea Caldera

When I worked for Kamehameha Schools in the 1980’s, we had a demonstration program at Pahoa Elementary School in the Puna District of the Big Island.  The Puna district is where the current fissures are opening. According to reports, fifteen fissures have now opened. Although the school is not directly impacted by the eruption, many families with children at the school live in the endangered areas. One teacher has reportedly lost her home to the lava. We can only hope for the best for all of them and keep them in our thoughts.

 

Go For Broke

One of the units making up the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, was the 522 Artillery Brigade. Once the 442nd arrived in France, the 522nd became a roving brigade, attached to whichever units needed them the most. In March, 1945, the 522nd remained in France for the campaign in the Lorraine region and the final drive into Southern Germany while the rest of the 442nd returned to Italy for the Gothic Line Campaign.

From March 12 -21, the 522nd participated in the attack on the Siegfried Line. When it fell, they crosded the Rhine and participated in the fall of Mannheim. In 60 days, the 522nd traveled 1,100 miles through 40 towns chasing the retreating Germans.

On April 29, some scouts from the 522nd came across some barracks surrounded by barbed wire in the Bavarian town of Lager Lechfield. What happened next wlll never be forgotten. This is how Technician Fourth Grade Ichiro Imamura described it.

“I watched as one of the scouts used his carbine to shoot off the chain that held the prison gates shut. . . They weren’t dead, as he had first thought. When the gates swung open, we got our first good look at the prisoners. Many of them were Jews. They were wearing striped prison suits and round caps. It was cold and the snow was two feet deep in some places. There were no German guards. The prisoners struggled to their feet. . . They shuffled weakly out of the compound. They were like skeletons – all skin and bones. . .”

The Nisei liberated Kaufering IV Hurlach, a Dachau satellite camp that housed 3,000 prisoners.  Most of the prisoners had gone. In the last days of April, Hitler had ordered the concentration camp guards to march the prisoners to the interior in a terrible death march.

On May 2, Nisei from the 522nd came across a field with several hundred lumps in the snow. The lumps were people—Jewish prisoners—many had been shot. Some had died of exposure, but some were alive, although barely. They found other prisoners wandering the countryside. For the next four days, the Nisei were engaged in getting the people to shelter and providing them with warmth.

In what is, perhaps, the greatest irony of the war, many of these Nisei who liberated the concentration camp, had, themselves, left concentration camps in the United States to fight against oppression and totalitarianism. They still had family and friends behind barbed wire in Manzanar, Poston, Gila River, Jerome, Rohwer,  Heart Mountain, Minidoka, Granada, Topaz and Tule Lake. It’s to their credit that the men of the 442nd were willing to risk so much to preserve freedom. It’s to our country’s lasting shame that we would incarcerate people solely because of their heritage. We must be vigilant that it never happens again.

 

The Tiki Bar Is Open.

47F5129B-F1F4-4D68-9827-E47071728EE0I don’t know what to call this drink. It’s based on gin and elderflower liquor. It has several different spices to give it an exotic flavor.

Firsst muddle .5 oz simple syrup, .5 oz lemon juice, a sprig of Thai basil, and a slice of  ginger root. Add 1.5 oz gin and 1 oz elderflower liquor. Shake and strain into an old-fashioned glass over ice. Top with a splash of tonic. It’s sort of sweet and sour with Asian overtones.

 

Haleakala

This time last year we were on Maui, visiting the summit of Haleakala. Haleakala means House of the Sun. It is a volcano rising 10,023 feet above sea level. It forms most of east Maui. Haleakala is considered still active, with it’s last eruption occurring in 1790 AD. It’s a sacred place to native Hawaiians. Several species, including the silversword are endemic and endangered. It is also the place where Apollo astronauts trained for the moon and where Reagan located his Star Wars missile defense program. Because of that, the road to the crater is well-built and maintained.
The best times to visit Haleakala are sunrise and sunset. In recent years, Haleakala has become so popular that visits are restricted. Individuals need to make reservations well in advance. The number of available reservations is limited. The alternative is to visit as part of a tour group, which we did.
We went with an outfit called Mountain Riders. They picked us up at our condo at 2:00 am and took us to Paia, about an hour away, where they fitted us with cold weather gear—jackets, pants, gloves—and bike helmets. Then we made the 2.5 hour ride to the summit.
Haleakala Crater Before SunriseThe temperature at the summit was in the mid- to high-thirties, but the wind chill was a lot lower. Even in our cold weather gear, we were shivering. Down at sea level, the temperature was in the mid-seventies. Some people who had come on their own, were not prepared for the cold. The mountain was shrouded in clouds, but the visitor’s center was just above the clouds. From there we looked into the crater, which was filled with clouds.
The sunrise at 6:05 was spectacular—a red fireball rising above the clouds. Our group waited until most of the visitors had cleared out. Then we drove to the park gates at the 6,500 ft level where we mounted fat-tire coaster bikes for the 26 mile ride to Paia Beach Park.
Halfway down Haleakala. West Maui and Molokai (in the distance)The ride was incredible. The road is great, well-paved and smooth, but, as you can imagine, descending 6,500 feet meant there were a lot of hairpins that really whipped you around. Our group consisted of 15 riders and a guide. We rode single file with the guide in front watching for problems, and the van and sag wagon behind to keep traffic behind us from entering into our file. Now and then we pulled over to let vehicles pass us. The weather was perfect—sunny and clear. At several points we stopped to remove some of the cold weather gear as the temperature warmed nearing the bottom. All downhill. The bikes were outfitted with heavy duty coaster brakes. No gears. No need to pedal except to get going from a stop.End of the ride with Akela, our guide
From the park entrance to Makawao, the site of the Makawao rodeo, was about four hours. We stopped there for lunch. Makawao is the setting for one of my Val Lyon stories, Horns, published in The Thrilling Detective, 2009, and republished in Game Face. Oskie Rice Arena, where Val had the encounter with a bull, is still there. The cowboy bar where she had the encounter with the bull rider is not, to my disappointment. Another disappointment is that we made the ride on a Monday, which is the only day Komoda’s Bakery closes. Komoda’s is famous for their cream puffs, which you want to get hot. Makawao to Paia Beach took about another hour.
Haleakala SilverswordNeedless to say, the scenery coming down was spectacular, with vistas of ocean and mountains and most of Maui in view. Alas, we saw only a few silverswords and they were in protected areas. Silverswords live about 80 years. They only flower once, but when they do, it is spectacular. When Mark Twain visited, he said the silverswords were so abundant that when he first saw them he thought he was seeing snow on the mountains. Now the plant is endangered and Hawaiians are doing their best to recover it. I would definitely do this ride again if I ever return to Maui.Silversword n Bloom

Go For Broke

At this time in April, 1945, The 100th/442 RCT we’re engaging the Germans for control of the Gothic Line. The Germans were desperate to hold the line, as it was the last defense before Germany, itself. They were ordered to hold it at all costs. The fighting was fierce because the Germans had built the line through the ragged Appenine Mountains and fortified it with steel, concrete, and overlapping machine gun fire.
On April 21, the 442nd, 3rd Battalion, K Company fought to seize the town of Tendola, Italy. Private Joe Hayashi single-handedly wiped out three machine gun nests before being killed by machine pistol fire while pursuing more Germans. You can read Private Hayashi’s Medal Of Honor citation here:
On the same day, Lieutenant Daniel Inouye (who later became senator from Hawai’i) of 2nd Battalion, E Company, took out two machine gun nests on a ridge called Colle Musatello. While taking the second one, he was shot in the stomach. Bleeding and in pain, he crawled to the third nest. Rising up to throw a grenade, he was hit near the elbow by a rifle grenade, which nearly severed his arm. He ordered his men to keep their distance because his now dead right hand clutched a live grenade.  He pried the grenade free and threw it left-handed at the nest, taking it out. He then charged the nest, firing his Thompson left-handed, killing the remaining Germans. He continued to lead his men onward until a German bullet hit him in the leg and ended his fight. Lieutenant Inouye’s Medal Of Honor Citation is here.
For four more days, the battle of the Gothic Line raged until, on April 25, the 442nd 2nd battalion and a task force of B and F Companies engaged in a pincer attack on the town of Aulla.
Two weeks later, Germany surrendered.

The Tiki Bar Is Open

Maui Breeze CocktailToday’s cocktail is The Maui Breeze.

This is a refreshing drink made with vodka, pineapple juice, and cranberry juice. It is very simple to make, which is good, because you will want more than just one. Or two.
In a shaker,
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 6 oz. pineapple juice
  • Splash of cranberry juice
  • Ice
Shake until chilled. Pour the mix and the ice into a glass. Garnish with pineapple and a cherry. If the drink is too sweet, add more vodka.
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