An Exotic Vodka From Vietnam

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - September 26, 2007
| | podcast Podcast |
Kai vodka is hand-crafted in a Vietnamese village
Kai vodka is hand-crafted in a Vietnamese village

When it comes to spirits, I’m not easily wooed. I won’t taste a cocktail until I’ve tasted the pure alcohol that goes into it, and most times I’d rather drink any spirit

a bit of work required at the distillery before Kai is ready for consumption.

“The character of Kai comes from a fermentation process with herbs that the villagers have used for centuries,” says Bender, “but we take it further with extra distilling.”

The lychee-flavored Kai would seem best suited to Hawaii’s growing list of exotic cocktails, and it worked well in the several variations I eventually tried. Fresh lychee juice would alter both the color and the flavor of Kai over time, so Bender took freshly made lychee juice to a flavor house and asked the experts there to come up with an essence to match the fragrant, delicate fruit aroma.

Marcus Bender
Marcus Bender

“What they did was create an essence that is exactly the same as fresh lychee,” he says, “and we’re very pleased with how it turned out. “

Looks like lots of bartenders and retailers are pleased with the product too - it’s already making a splash at The Stage, E&O Trading Company, Indigo and The Monkey Bar at Ciao Mein.

You should be able to find Kai in fine wine stores like Fujioka’s and Tamura’s as well as in local bars and restaurants. And just think, with every sip you’re supporting the cottage industry of an entire community.


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