In the search for a mai tai, discovering nonalcoholic drinks in Hawaii

Mai tais can come in many iterations, but the primary, unifying ingredient is rum — often more than one kind. What if you’re ready to kick back on your Hawaii vacation, drink in hand, but you’re just not into alcohol?

Not to worry — zero-proof cocktails are all the rage, so much so that most resort bar menus contain at least one or two. I grabbed a couple of my favorites here to feature, and some of the hotel reps I spoke with for my feature on mai tais offered up their favorite onsite mocktails and nonalcoholic drinks.

Zero-proof drinks at 1 Hotel on Kauai

1 Hotel Hanalei Bay has a zero-proof cocktail list on the menu at each of its restaurants. At 1 Kitchen or the Kai Maika’i bar by the adults-only pool zone, the menu includes the ‘Akala Kala, with dragon fruit, guava, coconut water and soda; and a seedlip fizz, which uses Seedlip Garden 108, a nonalcoholic spirit similar to gin; lemon; simple syrup; and soda.ย 

Upstairs at 1’s Asian-influenced Welina Terrace, there’s a Pacific Splash, with shiso, cucumber and yuzu. The Hibiscus Cooler has hibiscus, lychee and lime soda. Specialty virgin cocktails are in the $12 range.

Mocktails at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu

Over at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina, a spokeswoman told me that the resort sells about 1,300 mocktails a month — and impressive number.

At Manolo Lounge, the resort’s new restaurant for cocktails and light bites, she recommends the Pink Pill Box, layered first with lychee puree followed by guava juice and topped with a little Sprite for fizz. Or a “refreshing” Moonlight Mermaid. The base is house-made pea flower syrup, topped with fresh lemonade.ย 

At Mina’s Fish House, a Sunset in Paradise contains Lilikoi, a Hawaiian passionfruit; cucumber; lime; and ginger beer.

Not a mai tai at the Mai Tai Bar?

The Royal Hawaiian’s pink-tinted beach bar is called the Mai Tai Bar, but when I was taste-testing its famous mai tais, my colleague opted for a virgin Pink Palace (the alcoholic version calls for Coco Lopez, pineapple juice, rum, grand marnier and a splash of grenadine blend). And she added that the bartenders could “make almost anything in a nonalcoholic variety.”

Alcohol-free at the House Without a Key

The alfresco House Without a Key lounge and restaurant at the Halekulani, down the beach from the Royal Hawaiian, has several nonalcoholic drinks on its menu bar. One option is the Gable, which uses cucumber, pineapple cordial, lemon, aloe and mango ice.

Another fun option is the Halekulani Creamsicle, which has coconut milk, orange juice and house-made vanilla-bean syrup.ย 

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