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Influence of mixologist Harry Yee on signature Hawaiʻi cocktails

Joey Gottesman
Courtesy Joey Gottesman

As one of Hawaiʻi's first mixologists, Harry Yee is best known for inventing the iconic Blue Hawaii cocktail in the 1950s when he was bartending at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It was his creative mind that started the “tiki cocktail” craze, concocting drinks with names like “Tropical Itch” and “Tapa Punch.” Yee is also credited with being the first person to garnish a drink with a paper parasol.

Yee died on Dec. 7, 2022, at the age of 104, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The Conversation was curious about Yee’s influence on recent generations of bartenders. We sat down with Joey Gottesman, an Oʻahu native and former mixologist for Young’s Market Hawaii, to talk about Yee's legacy and holiday cocktails.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Dec. 26, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Russell Subiono is the executive producer of The Conversation. Born in Honolulu and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, he’s spent the last decade working in local film, television and radio. Contact him at
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