Crave | Mixing Things Up Kahu for maui By Alicia Yamachika Sept. 12, 2023 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! PHOTO BY ALICIA YAMACHIKA A deep feeling of dread spread down the back of my neck, like an icy hand, as I opened up the midnight text from my friend and United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) Hawaii Chapter president. Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. A deep feeling of dread spread down the back of my neck, like an icy hand, as I opened up the midnight text from my friend and United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) Hawaii Chapter president. It was now 7 a.m. on Aug. 9, and I had just woken up, checked my emails and was getting ready for work. The text preview window read, “Lahaina might be in a really bad way tomorrow …”, followed by a fire emoji. This text was seven hours old. I immediately searched the local news on my phone, and the cold knot in the pit of my stomach gave way to a rush of adrenaline so sudden it almost made me sick. There, on a national news video, posted just eight minutes ago, was my beloved Front Street … on fire. I clicked on news feed after news feed, searching desperately through images of smoke and ash for any information. How did this happen? Was anyone hurt? How long had these flames been ravaging our historic town while I lay sleeping peacefully in my bed? I suddenly thought of my friends who worked or owned restaurants in Maui, and began texting them frantically one by one, wondering if it was even reasonable of me to expect them to answer. What if they were running for their lives at this very moment? “Just saw the fires. Are you okay?” I crawled out of my skin waiting for a response. I didn’t even realize I was holding my breath, when one chef finally responded, “We’re okay … but Lahaina is gone.” I blinked through tears, staring in shock at the photos she sent me of the smoldering black blaze where her iconic restaurant once proudly stood. I didn’t know what to say except, “I’m so sorry. I’m just so glad you’re okay. Here for you.” I bounced back and forth for the next few hours between texts with my USBG council, as we set up impromptu fundraising efforts remotely from our individual homes and offices, and breathing small sighs of relief as more friends began checking in, each responding they were safe, though some had lost businesses, and many of their employees had lost homes. By 12:30 p.m., everyone I texted had been accounted for. Our USBG council and members set up a fundraiser booth later that day, and several more in the weeks to come, as well as an online fund for bar workers affected by the Maui wildfires. Local chefs from across the state organized tirelessly to cook daily, fresh, hot meals for the thousands displaced from their homes, and though many were suffering losses of their own, set up their own fundraisers for their employees on the side. Delivery trucks from my company were dispatched full of water and Red Bull for emergency shelters and first responders. Our sole employee to lose his home to the fire, came running from his family’s house, where he had been sheltering, upon hearing the familiar beeping of our truck backing into their driveway. There are no words to express the depth of loss and sadness echoing through our community over the devastation of beautiful Lahaina, and the many lives claimed in the fires that consumed her. I take comfort and sanctity only in seeing how our community has come together in this time of tragedy. Loss is complex because those we lost were so many things to so many different people. Like branches that extend, intertwine and reenter the earth far beyond the initial tree trunk, these connections cannot be undone, and are how we will continue to hold each other up, despite heartbreak. Lahaina was more than just the original state Capital of Hawaii. She was a bustling mecca of local food and cocktail culture, where chefs and bartenders alike experimented with and exemplified the epitome of local talent and indigenous cuisine. Front Street held a special place in my heart, as one of the world’s thriving art markets, hosting, simultaneously, Cubist musings of Pablo Picasso, pop-cultural criticisms by Andy Warhol and the Surrealist daydreams of Vladimir Kush. And though her many restaurants and galleries, like bones which once encased her heart, are now gone, they yielded to reveal the elegant, 150-year-old banyan tree, marvelously still standing, whose roots, if nurtured, will continue to push forth into our community, the vigor of new life, and possibly, of hope. Maui Strong Island Iced Tea 0.5 ounces Ocean Organic Vodka 0.5 ounces Fy Organic Gin 0.5 ounces Kula Organic white rum 1 ounce fresh-pressed lemon juice 0.5 ounces Hamakua Coast Premium lilikoi syrup 0.5 ounces housemade simple syrup (1 part sugar:1 part water) 2.0 ounces Dammann tropical blend tea concentrate (Steep 1 ounce of tea leaves in 16 ounce shot water for 4 minutes. Strain and let cool.) Directions: Combine all ingredients and pour over ice into Collins glass. Garnish with carved banana leaf, lemon wheel and edible orchid. Alicia Yamachika is a bartender and craft mixologist, who currently is the key account manager at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits on Oahu. Follow her on Instagram (@alicia_yamachika). Her column will appear every second Wednesday in Crave. Previous Story It’s sushi time Next Story Some like it 'hott'