Cocktail Hour: Favorites from the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz and Mya-Moe (Bonus: Learn to Play ‘Rye Whiskey’)

Monterey Bay Breeze Cocktail

Monterey Bay Breeze Cocktail Ukulele Santa Cruz Uke Magazine Trader Vic's TikiSanta Cruz, California, is best known for its majestic redwood forests and world-class surfing spots. But since the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz launched a four-string revolution 14 years ago, it’s also become a destination for ukulele players from Kona to Kingston. Although the club meets only once a month at a local restaurant, local ukers regularly congregate at various venues around town. The largest group gathers for a rousing sing-along every Saturday morning on the beach at the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor, on the azure shores of the Monterey Bay. That tranquil vista inspired us to create this piquant cocktail. It’s a drink that’s guaranteed to refresh and rejuvenate spent strummers and pooped paddlers alike. Sandor Nagyszalanczy

1 ½ oz. gin (preferably Hendrick’s or the Botanist)
1 oz. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
½ oz. Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
½ oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1 dash lemon bitters
2 ½-3 oz. ginger ale

Combine the gin, lemon juice, liqueurs, and bitters in a tall glass. Add enough ice cubes to fill the glass about full. Swirl the ice cubes around a few times to mix the ingredients. Top up the glass with chilled ginger ale, add your favorite swizzle stick, and serve immediately.

maya moe ukulele tiki cocktail rye whiskey uke hawaii

Ham On Rye

Gordon and Char Mayer, and Aaron Keim, are best known as Mya-Moe, custom ukulele makers, but they are also renowned cocktail connoisseurs. Ukulele magazine asked them to share their favorite summer libations and they have given us two delicious rye whiskey drinks. Tune up your uke, invest in a good bottle of rye, and sing the old two-chord bluegrass standard “Rye Whiskey” while you sample them both. (On second thought, tune first!) —Heidi Swedberg

Aaron’s Wooden Leg
3 oz. rye whiskey
Two dashes bitters
Juice from two lemon wedges


Using a tall glass, stir with ice and top with soda water. Garnish with a slice of lemon.

Mya-Moe’s Rye Zsa Zsa
2 oz. rye whiskey
1 tbsp. lime juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 tbsp. orgeat syrup (pronounced “or-zsa,” like Zsa Zsa Gabor, see recipe below)

Combine with ice in a cocktail shaker, shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime twist.

Char’s Homemade Orgeat Syrup
¾ cup plain almond milk
½ cup sugar
8 drops (1/8 tsp.) almond extract
8 drops (1/8 tsp.) orange blossom water

Heat (but don’t boil) the almond milk, add sugar and stir till dissolved. Remove from heat and add the almond extract and orange blossom water. Keep refrigerated for three weeks.

Rye Whisky Uke Tab Ukulele Lesson Traditional Tune