top of page
  • Writer's pictureBamboo Sam

Kelbo's Guava Daiquiri

Kelbo's twist on the rum standard

Kelbo's Guava Daiquiri

Kelbo's was a California based Hawaiian Barbecue restaurant chain that seems to have been around from the 1940's until the 1980's. It started out as a blue collar affair in stark contrast to the famously expensive Polynesian restaurants of the day. However, they had the good fortune to open a restaurant on Fairfax Avenue in L.A. just before CBS opened Studio City around the corner. Suddenly it was full of entertainment types and was in possession of a bar manned by Hank Riddle, the former personal steward of Don the Beachcomber. When Don returned to the States he brought Hank with him and set him up as a waiter at the Hollywood Don the Beachcombers. Hank jumped ship to the Malibu Seacomber the next year to move from waiter to maître d'. After getting married, he took a job at Kelbo's to be closer to his new wife (and away from the Hollywood types) only to find them following him when CBS opened their new studio in 1952. Hank Riddle stayed with Kelbo's managing their flagship locations until 1976 when the stress of 6 day work weeks (with a double on Saturdays) got the best of him. He decided to cut back and take it easy (Dr's orders) by bartending at the Palm Springs Don the Beachcombers. But that's a story for another time. Incidentally, Hank Riddle's story is an entire chapter in Beachbum Berry's Sippin' Safari and well worth a read.

It seems that Kelbo's claim to fame in the Tiki drink world was their substitution of other liquors (mainly vodka and gin) for rum in traditional Tiki drinks. The Daiquiri is a well known rum delivery vessel. When you think of a guava daiquiri the obvious recipe would be lime juice, guava nectar, simple syrup, rum, and ice. Kelbo's recipe subs out vodka or gin for the rum but the real differentiator here is the inclusion of banana liqueur instead of simple syrup. It's a small thing but I think it separates this daiquiri in a way that keeps it interesting. Personally, I prefer vodka to gin in this cocktail. But, there are now so many botanical gins on the market nowadays that I'm sure there are more than a couple that would work well in this drink; I just haven't found it yet.

For what it's worth, I think of this as my "not sweet" daiquiri that I keep in rotation for those that insist all, "Tiki drinks are too sweet for them". It comes across as more tart and crisp than anything else. I'd place it in dead between a daiquiri and a margarita. Now that I think of it, maybe I should be trying for the perfect tequila instead of gin...

Kelbo's Guava Daquiri

Source - Beachbum Berry, Sippin' Safari

Guava Daiquiri

  • 1/2 ounce lime juice

  • 1 ounce guava nectar

  • 1/8 ounce banana liqueur

  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka or gin*

Add 3 ounces of crushed ice and flash blend on high for 5 seconds. Kelbo's served in a double old fashioned glass which was filled with ice cubes to top it off.*

*Bamboo Sam's customizations - for the record this is good with a light rum and can be sweet with a light demerara rum like the El Dorado 5 yr. In fact, I prefer it that way. Regardless of the liquor choice, I flash blend this using a spindle mixer as opposed to a blender as I don't want it to be slushy, especially if served in an old fashioned glass. I do serve it in traditional coupe glasses as well with nary a complaint.

153 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page