THE PORTUGUESE WORD saudade does not have an English translation. Essentially, it is a sense of nostalgia, a yearning for a time long past. Carla Lopes Marques, co-owner of Pukiki, created the tropical cocktail to reflect this feeling, although saudade also describes the bar she co-owns with Martin McDermott. Located in Calheta, a coastal town in the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira, Pukiki is part cocktail bar and part cultural center, and serves as a nostalgic reminder of the historic connections between the Madeira Islands and the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Hibiscus beverages are popular around the world, but it's a particularly special flower to Hawaii.
The history goes like this: At the end of the nineteenth century, the Kingdom of Hawaii had an abundance of sugarcane fields, but not enough local workers to clear them. A Portuguese plantation owner suggested contracting workers from the Madeira Islands. Madeira and Hawaiʻi had much in common, including volcanic-forged islands, black sand beaches, and tropical and subtropical forests. Soon, ships of workers began arriving, bringing with them their families, food, and instruments. Hawaiians called these new residents “Pukiki.” Most Pukiki chose to stay in Hawaii, while some eventually migrated to the mainland United States. Madeira's influence on Hawaii is well-documented. For example, the ukulele descends from a small Portuguese instrument called the machête. But the one-way migration means little of that history and little of Hawaii returned to Madeira.
The orange, lime, and pineapple juices in the Saudade are tropical cocktail staples, but their inclusion is also a nostalgic piece of Marques’ childhood, back when her grandmother would dress her fruit salads with a Madeira wine. “I think every grandmother poured lots of wine in there. It's just a thing they do here,” she says. The hibiscus flowers in the homemade grenadine complement the Saudade’s fruit juices, so don’t skip that ingredient. “That really adds that velvety, almost bitter, fruity taste to things,” she says. Hibiscus beverages are popular around the world, but it's a particularly special flower to Hawaii; this use of red hibiscus calls back to Madeira's unique location, closer to the African continent than to Portugal.
Marques and co-owner Martin McDermott met while in art school in London, and then decided to take their combined love of good cocktails and midcentury design back to Marques’ home country. They bring their eye for detail and history to every part of Pukiki, from the building itself (it was a tavern in the 1950s) to the hard-carved wall patterns and the whimsical cocktail presentations. A shared drink is served in a ceramic ukulele, while another is topped with a small sailing ship, a reference to the earliest of Madeirans who sailed and settled halfway around the world. “I always call it the interactive museum by educational drinking because we started off being just a little rum bar. But with the cultural concept and this connection, it kind of became more than that.”
The educational connection is important to Marques. Since very few of the original Pukiki returned home, they left little mark on Madeiran culture. The bar and the cocktails Marques designs seek to remedy that. “There’s no information here [about the Pukiki] apart from us,” she says. “So we want to grow with that. That’s ultimately what we want to be. Along with a bit of drinking.”
- 1 ½ oz of Plantation Xaymaca rum
- ½ oz of Blandy's Madeira Rich 10-year-old Malmsey wine
- ¾ oz of fresh orange juice
- ¾ oz of fresh lime juice
- ¾ oz of fresh pineapple juice
- ¾ oz of homemade grenadine*
- Dash of Angostura bitters
- Pinch of grated nutmeg
- *To prepare the homemade grenadine, combine 1 cup of pomegranate juice (not from concentrate) and 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Place over medium-high heat. Add a small handful of red dried hibiscus petals. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes, and set the pan aside to cool. Sieve out the petals, and bottle. Add 1 oz of vodka to help preserve. Store the grenadine in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
- Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a double old-fashioned glass that’s been filled with crushed ice. Top with grated nutmeg and garnish with pineapple leaves and a twist of orange. Twist the orange peel over the glass to release the oils.
Jessica Suarez Writer
Jessica Suarez is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Grant Cornett Photographer
Grant Cornett is a photographer and director based in upstate New York. He likes to take pictures of pristine detritus and austere moments.