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08.19.11

Lights, Camera, Cocktails

Conan the Barbarian’s trainer spills on how star Jason Momoa got into such hunky shape. Plus, Honolulu-based bartender Jed Inductivo provides a spicy rum cocktail even an ancient warrior could enjoy.


Before revealing how to feed a barbarian or make a cocktail fit for a vacationing warrior, let’s establish one thing first. Jason Momoa is a legitimate fox.

And Momoa has been a straight-up hunk for years, even way back when he was 22, significantly less muscle-y and rocking a clean cut look when he played Jason on Baywatch Hawaii. Those plump lips and bold eyebrows were both still just as impressively huge. (Two years before Baywatch, Momoa won Hawaii’s Model of the Year. Was Tom Cruise ever New York’s Model of the Year? Didn’t think so.) 

Momoa continued to keep it sexy when he played Frankie Seau on the short-lived primetime soap opera North Shore. (As cocktail people though, we found his character’s commitment to his job as a bartender at the Grand Waimea hotel to be questionable. It seemed like he was doing an awful lot of surfing and making out with Amanda Righetti and not spending a whole lot of time behind the bar shaking up cocktails.)

He whipped his dreadlocks around that big handsome mug quite a bit throughout his time as Ronon Dex on Stargate: Atlantis, but removed them later during filming because they were giving him headaches and whiplash during stunts.

The signature hair was gone when he popped back onto our small screens as Khal Drogo, the imposing king on Game of Thrones, but this time there was a strange, beaded beard. Considering every Hollywood hunk goes through some sort of awkward bearded phase, (see Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Antonio Banderas) we can forgive.

This weekend we get to watch Momoa dominate the big screen for nearly two hours playing the title role in Conan the Barbarian. At six feet, five inches tall, he is anything but a small guy. This time though, even from the previews, true fans can tell that his body is leaner, stronger and more powerful than we’ve seen it before.

Curious about how one would get and maintain this sort of impressive bod, we reached out to Eric Laciste, the man who trained Momoa for the Conan film.  He also regulated what Momoa was and wasn’t allowed to eat.

“Aside from breakfast,” Laciste explains, “everything else was pretty much a chicken breast every two hours on set and a tablespoon or two of peanut butter to get him through the day as far as energy goes, to keep his head clear. For breakfast it would be a cup of coffee, two eggs over easy, and chicken breast with hot sauce. Pretty much everything else consisted of chicken breast and peanut butter. And then when we’d get home, if it wasn’t too late, we would have something sensible. The beef in Bulgaria kind of sucks so it would either be a piece of fish or again chicken and some sort of green vegetable, but nothing too heavy.”

Typically, when an actor is transforming his body for an action movie role, he is given at least two months to put in the necessary work. But for Conan, the Momoa-Laciste team had barely three weeks.

“Originally we had six weeks to prep before principal photography and then it was cut to three and then we got there and started shooting the second day.”

For Conan, Laciste had to make Momoa big and keep him lean and healthy, because he was doing 90 percent of his stunts and working 16 hour days. He also had to whip the star back into shape later in 2010 before a Conan-related photo shoot in Bulgaria, after Momoa had spent a time in Ireland shooting the pilot for Thrones, where his diet consisted mainly of “Guinness and pasta.”

“We had to be lean and big at the same time. I had been trying to formulate this workout concept (called AR7) for the last 10 years and finally, when we hooked up on Conan, everything kind of came to fruition.

“There are choices at the end of the night. Especially if one enjoys an alcoholic beverage with food, like I do.”

All peanut butter and no play doesn’t sound like the most appetizing time spent in Ireland, Los Angeles, or Bulgaria. Could one possibly enjoy an adult beverage every once in a while during training?

“There are choices at the end of the night. Especially if one enjoys an alcoholic beverage with food, like I do, like he does. So there’s going to be a choice. Either you fill up on beer, or maybe have a nice glass of wine or not even that, maybe have a couple glasses of scotch. I had to factor that into my equation and he really appreciates those types of things."

When we pressed Laciste for how much we could drink while training he told us, “Go ahead and drink a bottle of wine if you want to but the next day you better be drinking a bottle of water, and doing an hour of cardio.  It’s all a give and take.”

Well you don’t need to give us a license to drink!

Rest easy, this week’s cocktail won’t be literally inspired from Momoa’s regimen and made with chicken breast and peanut butter.

Instead we went to Momoa’s birthplace of Honolulu to ask Jed Inductivo of the Sheraton Waikiki’s RumFire bar to create a drink that appropriately married a warrior theme with a Hawaiian influence. Previously, Inductivo managed the bar at the Japanese restaurant Nobu, and then brought his drink-making creative talent over to the RumFire team as general manager. Since you’re likely not training for an epic warrior and witchcraft film—in 3-D to boot!—you can actually kick back and enjoy a couple of these brilliantly flavorful “Blood Warrior” cocktails before or after the flick.

“Knowing the tradition of Conan movies,” explains Inductivo, “it’s a warrior epic and there’s definitely a tie back to Hawaii with this warrior theme, especially with Jason Momoa starring. With this in mind, I wanted to create a memorable drink that tastes like Hawaii and still captures the essence of Conan as a warrior. I took a Cruzan blood orange rum, which exemplifies the spirit of RumFire and combined this with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients like the chili water and passion fruit. People will love the ‘chili water,’ which adds a nice spice to give our Koko Koa a good ‘punch.’ Jason – this one’s for you!”

Koko Koa – (means “Blood Warrior” in Hawaiian)

Created by Jed Inductivo of RumFire
1 ¼ oz. Cruzan Orange Rum
½ oz. blood orange puree
¾ oz passion fruit puree
½ oz Chili Pepper Water
4-5 cilantro sprigs
½ oz fresh lime juice
¼ oz. simple syrup
Add lime, simple, chili pepper water, puree, cilantro and rum to a mixing glass with ice. Shake vigorously to extract oils from cilantro and strain over ice into a highball, pre-rimmed with Red Alaea salt on half of the rim. Add a thin blood orange wheel in the glass.