Best of the Maldives: Welcome Drink Sculpture – Sun Siyam Vilu Reef

Vilu Reef - frog fish 4

The Maldivian “welcome drink” is one of the first rituals which make you feel that you have arrived at a distinctive paradise and an exotic tropical experience awaits you. Typically, the refreshment is some tropical fruit juice or a freshly hacked coconut’s contents. Sometimes the drink is a bit more elaborate…but none so extravagantly so as Sun Siyam Vilu Reef ‘s frog fish passion fruit sculpture (see photo). We’ve seen all sort of melon sculptures, but never a passion fruit. And all sorts of concocted creatures, but never a frog fish (whose likeness was quite impressive).

Sun Siyam Vilu Reef - greeting drink

Best of the Maldives: Tepache – Amilla

Amilla - tepache 2

Tropical fruit is a classic ingredient to any Maldives visit – papaya, mango, pineapple. The creative F&B folks use these in a variety of food and beverage treats. Pineapple is of course one of the staples of our favourite Maldives treat – the Puerto Rican pina colada. Amilla Maldives offers another Latin American pineapple beverage – tepache – homemade on the island. Tepache is a fermented Mexican beverage made from the peel and the rind of pineapples and sweetened either with piloncillo or brown sugar. The process takes up to 9 months and uses every part of the pineapple. Tepache can be enjoyed on its own (see above) or in a cocktail like their Thai Lime cocktail made from Ginger-Infused Vodka, Lime, Lemongrass Chili Bitters, Tepache.

Amilla - tepache

Best of the Maldives: Local Welcome Drink – Sun Siyam Iruveli

Iruveli - snack

The welcome drink to a resort is a time-honoured ritual with many variations, but Sun Siyam Iru Veli features an especially Maldivian welcome beverage. The drink is a distinctive recipe including Mint, Orange, Pineapple, Cinnamon and Ginger with a indigenous touch of water infused with Pandan leaf (called “Raanbaa” in Dhivehi) grown on the island.

Best of the Maldives: Kefir – Amilla

Amilla - kefir 2

Yogurt is a common breakfast item I enjoy regularly (especially loaded with honey and granola), and a yogurt drink for stomach biome health is fairly popular, but Amilla Maldives has added Kefir yoghurt to its buffet now for that extra special yoghurt treat:

  • “Kefir Yoghurt is a liquid milk beverage with an acidic creamy taste made with milk and gelatinous kefir. Kefir originated from the Balkans and Caucasus and is rich in lactic acid and acetic acid, which helps ferment kefir in yoghurt.”

Amilla - kefir

Best of the Maldives: Cocktail Class – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - cocktail class

Drinks all around then? If you want to personally serve up your entourage of friends with cocktail concoctions, then Park Hyatt Hadahaa offers a Cocktail Making class (1 hour, $55 per person):

  • “Discover Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa’s secret mojito recipe from our skilled barmen, as well as learning a few other favourites, then sit back and enjoy your exotic creations while watching a stunning Maldivian sunset.”

Best of the Maldives: Gin – OZEN by Atmosphere

OZEN by Atmosphere - gin bar

World Gin Day! Gin and tonic actually originated in the tropics. Centuries ago, Europeans died regularly of malaria in places like Africa and South Asia, but they figured out that those who drank tonic water somehow seemed to not get the illness. As it turns out quinine, which gives tonic water its distinctively bitter taste, is prophylactic which supresses the malaria. When I lived in Togo, West Africa, I took quinine tablets daily to prevent malaria.

Today, tonic water is used for much more mundane purposes like a perfect complement to a glass of gin. Over a pile of ice cubes. A drink so popular that you now get special gin bars serving wide ranges of varieties. Our local, The Prince of Wales pub, has one. Lori is especially particular always preferring a Bombay Sapphire to Gordons (which has too strong of the distinctive juniper – or as Lori says, “pine needle” – taste). Now this gin aficionados have their own specialty watering hole in the Maldives at Ozen by Atmosphere:

  • “The bar will be located at Ozen by Atmosphere on Maadhoo Island and will feature more than 25 gin brands, including Tanqueray, Hendrick’s and Monkey 47. All drinks will be included in the resort’s Atmosphere Indulgence Plan. The bar will be open from 5pm-11pm every day except Fridays, and is located above the resort’s poolside bar, Joie de Vivre.”

Best of the Maldives: Eco Straws – Anantara

Anantara - eco straws

Happy New Year 2018! Time to set resolutions for the year ahead. Usually New Year’s Resolutions are about making ourselves better, but Anantara is leading the way with its resolution to make its properties better at making the world better…

  • “From January 1, every [Anantara] hotel, restaurant and bar at the resorts throughout Asia will use alternatives to plastic for people to sip their drinks through. Biodegradable and recyclable alternatives will replace the 2.5 million plastic straws that had been used every year.”

What’s your eco-resolution to live a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle?

Best of the Maldives: Milk Shakes – Finolhu

Finolhu - milk shakes

I am a bit of a milk shake (or “frappe” as they call them in New England where I grew up) connoisseur. The “Milk Shake Bar Kid” if you will. At university, my daily routine included a late night run to Brighams for *two* chocolate malted shakes (with an egg for extra protein and extra creaminess…I was doing lots of sport and this was a time before protein bars and smoothies). To this day, I make myself a milkshake at least once a week. The proper kind made with ice cream (the British have some weird things called “milk shakes” that are mostly literally milk shaken up).

I grew up enjoying soda fountain shakes at the local drugstore or “five and dime”. Shakes have made a bit of retro-resurgence with the rise of gastro-burger joints including the eponymous “Shake Shack”. So it was a charming trip down memory lane to stroll into Finolhu’s own “Milk Bar”. Of course, I had to go for the classic chocolate.

They do a range of smoothies and freezing cold drinks to slake the tropical thirst. They even offer a range of protein powders.

Damn right it’s better than yours.

Best of the Maldives: Customer-Centric Cocktails – Kuramathi

Kuramathi - customer cocktails

A good bartender can make just about anything the customer asks for, but the Kuramathi bartenders make drinks the customers invent. And keep on making them for other guests too. The resort held a cocktail concocting competition last year and the winning entries were (a) “Tropicana” by Elena from France, (b) “Speedbabe” by Andrew from England. As a part of their prize, their creations will be featured on the Kuramathi cocktail list for a year.