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Tiki Central Forums » » Tiki Drinks and Food » » Harry K. Yee: King of Tropical Cocktails
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Harry K. Yee: King of Tropical Cocktails
ickytiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 07, 2010
Posts: 41
From: Orangevale, CA
Posted: 2014-01-24 9:31 pm   Permalink

Ahoy!

I was searching for the original, Blue Hawaii drink recipe. While surfing the web, I stumbled across the following article from 1998 by Rick Carroll:
http://www.kevdo.com/maitai/harryyee.html

Apparently, Harry Yee is the creator of fifteen vintage, exotic drinks: Hawaiian Cooler, Guava Lada, Hot Buttered Okolehao, Scratch Me Lani, The Hukilau, Catamaran, Diamond Head, Hawaiian Eye, Naughty Hula, Wahine's Delight and Hawaiian Village Sunset

The article does include the vintage, Blue Hawaii...

In a 12 ounce glass, put ice, then add in this order:

•three ozs. fresh pineapple juice,
•one oz. sweet and sour
•half oz. of blue curacao (preferably Bols).
•3/4 oz. vodka
•3/4 oz. Puerto Rican rum ("It's a better taste," Harry says.)

Stir gently, garnish with pineapple slice and vanda orchid. Serve with aloha.

However, there still remains a million questions... Is Harry Yee still alive? Did he ever document his ingredients? Is the article accurate? Does anybody have the correct recipes for the above drinks. I would love to know more about Harry Yee and his drinks. So, hopefully, somebody has more information to add to the original 1998 article.






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Sunny&Rummy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2013
Posts: 513
From: Melbourne, FL
Posted: 2014-01-25 04:42 am   Permalink

As far as I can gather he is still alive though he Retired from bartending in the 1980s.

Beachbum Berry gives recipes for the Hawaiian Eye in both Intoxicating and Remixed, although he credits the creation of that recipe to Tony Ramos at California's China Trader restaurant and not Harry Yee. The series was set at Hawaiian Village Waikiki but most of the interior scenes were shot in Hollywood and the cast were regulars at China Trader.

Jeff also gives a Harry Yee-attributed recipe for the Tropical Itch in Remixed. The Sippin' Safari version is a gin drink rather than bourbon and passionfruit (and not nearly as good) is from the Kon-Tiki restaurants and not a Yee creation.

[ This Message was edited by: Sunny&Rummy 2014-01-25 15:53 ]


 
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ickytiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 07, 2010
Posts: 41
From: Orangevale, CA
Posted: 2014-01-25 11:51 am   Permalink

Ahoy!

A few days ago, I wrote to Beach Bum Berry and asked him a few questions about Harry Yee. This was Jeff’s response:

“Yes, Rick Carroll's article does indeed print Harry's original Blue Hawaii. I'm afraid all I know about Mr. Yee is taken from Rick's article, so, alas, I can't really speak to your other questions about him.”

So, it’s safe to say the recipe below is authentic.

BLUE HAWAII

In a 12 ounce glass, put ice, then add in this order:

three ozs. fresh pineapple juice,
one oz. sweet and sour
half oz. of blue curacao (preferably Bols).
3/4 oz. vodka
3/4 oz. Puerto Rican rum

Stir gently, garnish with pineapple slice and vanda orchid. Serve with aloha.

I also kept searching on-line for more of Harry Yee’s drinks and recipes and found some more information on YouTube of all places. Apparently Yee began mixing drinks in 1952 and served as Hilton Hawaiian Village's head barman for 30 years. YouTube currently has three videos from the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort where he worked for so long, The videos demonstrate how to make a Blue Hawaii, Tropical Itch and The Hawaiian Eye Cocktail. The Blue Hawaii video’s recipe matches the above recipe and I’m assuming that the other two are correct as well to his original creations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pwEBG1pSLw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4xZJbW5uBY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ieLwXt4aCA

TROPICAL ITCH

1 oz Bourbon
1 oz 151 Proof Rum
½ oz Orange Curacao
5 oz Passion Fruit Juice (Not Syrup)

Shake the contents in a shaker along with ice. Strain into an ice filled hurricane glass. Then float:

1 oz Jamaican Dark Rum
1 dash Bitters
Garnish with a bamboo back scratcher and a pineapple wedge.

and

THE HAWAIIAN EYE

¼ oz Light Rum
¾ oz Jamaican Dark Rum
¾ oz Dark Rum
3 oz Grapefruit Juice
1 ½ oz Guava Juice
1 dash Bitters
1 dash Simple Syrup

Shake the contents in a shaker along with ice. Strain into an ice filled hurricane glass. Garnish with an orchid and pineapple wedge.


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Sunny&Rummy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2013
Posts: 513
From: Melbourne, FL
Posted: 2014-01-25 3:41 pm   Permalink

Interesting, the Harry Yee Hawaiian Eye recipe you posted is in fact an entitely different cocktail than the Tony Ramos drink. The Ramos has lime juice, simple syrup, faleenum, and gold and white rum.

The Remixed Tropical Itch recipe attributed to Yee is basically the same as what you posted but with three more ounces of passionfruit juice and the dark Jamaican rum swizzled in with the rest of the ingredients rather than floated on top.

The first time I encountered Yee in print was in the very hit and miss Jennifer Trainer Thompson Great Tiki Drink Book, which was sadly my first introduction to Tiki home bartending before I discovered Grog Log. Unfortunately she gets it weong and attributes the poneapple and Coco Lopez-containing Blue Hawaiian to Yee and not the rum and vodka Blue Hawaii he actually did invent. That book also contains a mutated Tropical Itch recipe (with no attribution) that omits the bourbon and goes with pineapple juice and passionfruit syrup instead of juice. I thought this version was ok until I found the more authentic recipes with bourbon and passionfruit juice.

[ This Message was edited by: Bora Boris 2014-01-25 19:07 ]


 
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ickytiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 07, 2010
Posts: 41
From: Orangevale, CA
Posted: 2014-01-25 4:59 pm   Permalink

Ahoy Sunny&Rummy!

Harry Yee's recipes absolutely NEED to be documented correctly... Here's another example of some beautiful drink recipes being altered and ruined because of not knowing the true ingredients and portions.

This man and his legendary work deserves to be preserved. If anybody has more information on him and his amazing recipes, please help with saving his life's work!!!


 
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TikiTacky
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 23, 2010
Posts: 1307
Posted: 2014-01-25 9:46 pm   Permalink

I've been posting the information about Harry over at The Tikipedia. Feel free to contribute if you have anything you'd like to add:
http://www.thetikipedia.com/doku/doku.php?id=people:harry_yee
_________________
"You can't eat real Polynesian food. It's the most horrible junk I've ever tasted." —Trader Vic Bergeron


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ickytiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 07, 2010
Posts: 41
From: Orangevale, CA
Posted: 2014-01-27 4:38 pm   Permalink

Aloha!

I'm still searching to locate Harry Yee and possibly document his 15 original cocktails. I just called the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikik Beach Resort and got transferred to the Ocean View Terrace where Yee worked for 30 years. I talked with a bartender named Benson. I asked if the hotel had any information on Harry's recipes. I was told that he would ask around and that he would call me back with any information.

I also tried to locate anybody named Harry K. Yee that would be in their mid-nineties. The article that Rick Carroll wrote was in 1998 and it stated that Harry Yee was 78. I'm not having much luck with my search and I'm doubting that he would still be alive at that age.

The article also stated that he retired and went back to school as the principal of Honolulu's Bartender Training Institute. I also tried to find information on the institute and am coming up empty. Does it still exist? has the name of the institute changed?

And finally, I'm trying to locate the author of the article: Rick Carroll. I'm also hitting a dead end with trying to reach him as well.

So, if anybody has any information that could lead to getting a hold of Harry Yee or his original recipes, please chime in. I still believe it's very important to save his legacy and drink recipes so that everybody can still enjoy his wonderful creations.

Cheers!


 
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ickytiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 07, 2010
Posts: 41
From: Orangevale, CA
Posted: 2014-02-01 4:57 pm   Permalink

Well...

I can't believe it but I talked to Harry K. Yee on the phone just now!

He is still alive and resides in Honolulu. He told me that he is almost ninety-six years old. He's extremely hard of hearing and wasn't able to talk long. He was surprised that I was talking about some of his old drink recipes. When I asked about some of his recipes, he said that was from a long time ago. Yee said that he couldn't remember recipes but that he could look to see if he had anything written down. He had said that he has given a lot of stuff away and wasn't sure if he had them any more.

I'm in shock!!!

What a treasure it would be to even find a few of his original recipes... I gave him my phone number and he told me that he would call me back. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

Cheers,

~icky


 
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LoriLovesTiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 915
From: NJ
Posted: 2014-02-01 5:27 pm   Permalink

Icky,

That is so very cool! amazing, actually that you were able to track him down AND get to talk to him.


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:-)
Lori


 
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Bora Boris
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2005
Posts: 2588
From: Boogie Wonderland
Posted: 2014-02-01 5:39 pm   Permalink

Nice work Icky!

 
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Kill Devil
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 16, 2011
Posts: 261
From: Chicago
Posted: 2014-02-03 07:50 am   Permalink

Hope that Harry gets back to you, good luck!

 
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arriano
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2006
Posts: 1290
From: Dog Patch - San Diego
Posted: 2014-02-03 10:25 am   Permalink

The Cocktail Database has a recipe for the Hawaiian Eye that appears to be the Harry Yee version, and may be a bit more authentic than the one on the YouTube video considering the rums used.

http://www.cocktaildb.com/recipe_detail?id=3182



[ This Message was edited by: arriano 2014-02-03 10:26 ]


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Swanky
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5058
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2014-02-04 06:14 am   Permalink

Good job!

 
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Grand Kahu
Grand Member (2 years)  

Joined: Jul 31, 2006
Posts: 178
From: Dallas, TX
Posted: 2014-02-04 10:06 am   Permalink

That is great when you actually find one of the old-timers still around and able to talk about "being there!" Congrats!
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Grand Kahu

Tied by my Mai Tai...


 
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hang10tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 18, 2010
Posts: 3936
From: Las Vegas
Posted: 2014-02-04 10:43 am   Permalink

Way cool

 
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