SETTING THE MAI MAI STRAIGHT – A Mai Tai Rant

Aloooha everyone! –  it´s Mai Tai time…or rather – it´s Mai Tai rant time…

How many times does this need to be said??? – a Mai Tai is rum, orange curacao, lime, orgeat, simple or rock candy syrup and mint! and sometimes a spent lime shell in the shaker and glass. NOTHING MORE! really!!! PERIOD.

That said – it doesn`t mean you cannot make variations of it with say a Brazilian nut orgeat and call it a Brazilian Mai Tai – for example – but that`s the difference – a Mai Tai is a Mai Tai and a twist of it is another drink – like a cousin and a cousin needs a slightly different name. When making a twist, stick to the original recipe as your foundation and don`t change it so much that it´s not based on a Mai Tai anymore.

In my opinion you can NOT add amaretto, grenadine, pineapple or/ and orange juice and call it a Mai Tai – call them something + Mai Tai or give the drink an entirely new name. The point I try to make is, there´s for example the Sazerac, if you added pineapple juice to it, or vanilla syrup, would it still be a Sazerac?

And i`m not saying that you cannot add a piece of pineapple or cherry in the garnish either – i like cherries…But if you wanna be really a purist, it´s only mint and a spent lime shell – but NEVER go astray from the original recipe if you wanna call it a Mai Tai.

There`s the Trader Vic´s Mai Tai and there`s Donn the Beachcomber`s Mai Tai which is a quite different drink to Vic´s containing grapefruit juice, falernum, pernod and angostura bitters. I`m not gonna go into the never ending debate about Vic`s versus Donn`s and there´s an excellent article on that topic in Beachbum Berry´s Remixed. But my conclusion is that Vic´s recipe is THE Mai Tai.

It`s clear that too many bars still serves various crap they call a Mai Tai, on the upside is that over the past years there´s many good bars now that actually serves the traditional Trader Vic´s Mai Tai. But the battle is still  on!

Just look at this parody on a Mai Tai…looking like strawberry lemonade fully dressed with sparkling fireworks – it´s a friend of mine, John Gibbons over at Cocktailcloister (thanks for the picture) who was served this one in Istanbul while desperatly searching for decent cocktails…

This is NOT how a Mai Tai should be…and if you read the menu you`ll see they have no clue what a Mai Tai is…


Wanna read the history of the Mai Tai? go here. Wanna read about rum combos? go here. And wanna read about even more rum combos? go here. Wanna read what Jeff says? go here. Not enough yet? well go here…:-)

THE ORIGINAL TRADER VIC`S MAI TAI (as it used to be)

2 oz. Wray & nephew 17-year-old Jamaican rum
0.5 oz. French Garnier Orgeat
0.5 oz. Holland DeKuyper orange Curacao
0.25 oz. Rock Candy Syrup
Juice from one fresh lime

Shake everything with ice and strain into a double old-fashioned glass full of crushed ice. Garnish with half the spent lime shell inside the drink and a sprig of fresh mint at the edge of the glass. Place a straw or two near the mint – short straws..we want some mint fragrance up the nose don´t we? and don´t forget to spank the mint first to release the fragrance like perfume..

We all know there´s no 17 yo Jwray available anymore so instead we use different rum combos, and one common combo is 1 oz. Appleton Extra and 1 oz. Clemént VSOP or St. James Hors d`age. Equal parts jamaican and martinique rums approximates the character and flavor of the long-gone 17-year old Wray & Nephew.

Another combo i like to use is with demerara rum, either a demerara and a jamaican or only demerara, to me that is heaven in a glass and the Silver Seal 15 yo makes the ultimate Mai Tai i think.

The goal here is not to try to get as close as you can to the 17 yo Jwray & Nephew but to punch it up a notch with that distinctive smoky and heavy demerara flavor. El Dorado 12 and 15 yo are perfect examples of good demerara rum.

Yet another perfectly tasty combo is the “made for Mai Tai`s” Jamaican rum Smith and Cross…paired with Rhum JM VSOP. Also Coruba dark works well.

As for the orange curacao i`d recommend orange curacao from curacao or if you can´t get the original curacao use cointreau and cut it just a little bit since it´s stronger and will easily mess up the Mai Tai if too much is used. It`s not an original Mai Tai with cointreau though so try get the orange curacao if you can.

Trader Vic first used DuKuyper but did actually change to Bols because he liked it better, but the original recipe always had orange curacao. More sweet and less dry and bitter and also cheap is Triple sec, but that´s not what i prefer. Also Clement Creole Shrubb works well.

MAI TAI


1 oz Smith & Cross

1 oz Clemènt VSOP

0.05 oz. orgeat

0.5 oz. orange curacao

0.25 oz. simple syrup

1 oz fresh lime juice

Mint sprig and lime shell for garnish. And in my case a cherry too since i love to snack on them when the drink is finished…preferably fresh brandied cherries that is – not the red abominations you find in a jar.

That`s it – Mai Tai. This drink is a bullet proof drink, even people who doesn´t like rum usually like this because it´s balanced, simple  and good – you can’t improve on perfection…

DON THE BEACHCOMER

Don Beach or Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt did invent a drink that he called Mai Tai but it never reached that fame and shortly disappeared from his menu.

Don Beach is the man who invented many of the classsic tikidrinks like the Zombie, the Navy Grog and Missionary`s downfall, (one of my fav tiki drinks) as well as the whole concept of exotic polynesian style restaurants, known as tiki bars.

DON THE BEACHCOMBER`S MAI TAI

1.5 oz Myer’s plantation rum (you may sub Appleton)

1 oz Cuban rum ( sub British navy-style rum)

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

1 oz fresh grapefruit juice

0.25 oz falernum

0.5 oz cointreau

2 dashes angostura bitters

1 dash pernod

Shell of squeezed lime

1 cup of cracked ice

Shake for 1 minute. Serve in a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with four sprigs of mint. Add a spear of pineapple. Sip slowly through mint sprigs until desired effect results.

I find this drink just a tad sour so i add 1/4 oz simple syrup to it, but that can also have something to do with how tart your grapefruits and limes are.

But among the two Mai Tais i really prefer Vic`s Mai Tai, there is a reason why it was the one that gained such popularity and now is one of the classics. It has such a balance and yet is very simple. That doesn`t mean that i consider Don Beach Mai Tai a bad drink, oh no, its tasty too.

I close this topic now and move on to another… in my next post i will make a few Mai Tai twists that you can make without ruining the drink by transforming it into a cloingly sweet and/or slushy “tropical” abomination.

My dream job? judging a Mai Tai contest…

 

Sugarcane bar

 

MIXING TROUGH GROG LOG 15 – Colonel Beach`s Plantation Punch

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Here we have one of those genuine steady tropical tiki punches, made to relax with in a rattan chair while the sun sets and the cikadas start their nightly concert.

Made by Donn Beach and most likely as is stated already in the Log, a drink made for his steak and coffee house “The Colonel´s Plantation Beef Steak and Coffee House” in Waikiki Hawaii cirka 1950s. Sounds to me that those were the days..can someone please invent a real time-machine?

Thank God these recipes are still here (many due to some peoples hard work) so we can enjoy these drinks in our time.

All the ingredients in this drink are classic tiki cocktail ingredients including the pernod, one of the secrets at the time. This is a very rewarding drink to sip on. i think the ginger beer adds a very nice freshness while the three rums adds depth and complexity.

What you can do, if you wanna add some real funk to this drink is to make your own ginger beer, i bet it would make a fantastic flavor to this. I don´t have the time now to do that but i think i wanna try. That will have to be another blog post.

COLONEL BEACH´S PLANTATION PUNCH

colonel-beachs-plantation-punch

1 oz fresh lime juice

2 oz unsweetened pineapple juice

0.5 oz falernum

2 oz ginger beer

2 dashes angostura bitters

1/8 tsp pernod

2 oz dark Jamaican rum

1 oz gold Puerto Rican rum

0.5 oz Barbados rum

Shake with one cup crushed ice- Pour into tall glass with 3-4 ice cubes. Garnish with pineapple chunk and sprig of mint.

Well, i used a tiki mug instead..one that i find suitable for a plantation punch and which i found on the shelves in one of New Orleans liqueur stores.

The taste of the drink is both fresh, rummy and relaxed, just the way this kinda drink should be. I have nothing to complain on here.

And as usual, here´s a little twist of this drink and we move from the rattan chair to the beach, here`s a Beach Punch:

COLONEL BEACH PUNCH

colonel-beach-punch

0.75 oz fresh lime

1.5 oz pineapple juice

1.5 oz root beer

2-3 dash Creole bitters or Peychaud`s

0.5 oz demerara simple syrup

1 oz dark Jamaican rum (Smith & Cross)

1 oz aged rhum agricole

0.5 oz LH 151

Shake with crushed ice and pour everything into a glass or tiki mug.

A typical tiki punch with extra flavors from the root beer. Nothing that sticks out but its relaxing and tasty. If you take the mint garnish and down it in the drink and stir a bit you`ll start to think about a julep sans bourbon.

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A peek in the glass..are you thirsty now?

colonel-beach-punch-in-the-glass

THE Q.B. COOLER AND THE MAI TAI

killer-mai-tai

This is not a new topic…but If there´s a drink that fascinates me its this one, tthe QB Cooler and the reason is as many of you can guess – it tastes much like a Trader Vic´s Mai Tai – but does only have two ingredients in common, rum and lime and not even the same rums either – or proportions. Of course it doesn´t taste exactly like a Mai Tai but actually close enough to be a mystery to many.

And not only is the drink tasty and tastes like Mai Tai it also has an interesting story that dates back to the time of the Mai Tai war between Donn the Beachcomber and Trader Vic, a topic that has been discussed for over half a century now and will probably never stop being discussed..

In ca 1937 Donn the Beachcomber created the Q.B. Cooler and it is said – that Trader Vic took that recipe and reformulated it to what we know as the Trader Vic´s Mai Tai – but there`s is no proof of that though – and it is also said that it was Donn who created the Mai Tai…and also that Trader Vic created the Mai Tai… and actually both did – just not the same Mai Tai..

Donn Beach Mai Tai is entirely different from Vic`s and to me and most others, what is the real Mai Tai – is Trader Vic`s and it`s also the one that made commercial success and became a living legend. It simply is THE Mai Tai and it has a perfect balance and layers of flavors.

That said, just because Vic has won the Mai Tai war doesn´t mean Donn Beach wasn`t an awesome bartender – he was! he was Mr awesome! – and so was Vic.

Whether or not Trader Vic`s Mai Tai evolved from Donn`s Q.B.Cooler or not and which really is just speculations is really not important but nevertheless its a fascinating topic and i guess since we really never will know for sure the Mai Tai conflict will never end.

In any case what puzzles me is how these two drinks can taste so similar, even though we can see the flavor profile goes towards dark rums, lime and orange. But there`s no falernum or ginger syrup in the Mai Tai.

And i haven´t gotten to the rums yet – we know that the Mai Tai originally contained one rum, the 17 yo Wray & Nephew and later on a blend of Jamaican and Martinique rum while the Q.B. Cooler contains Jamaican and light Puerto Rican rum. And still they manage to taste quite similar.

Isn`t it fascinating? anyway, even though very close, the Mai Tai is more intense in my opinion. So go get your shakers and mix up these two drinks and taste them side by side, you´ll be surprised.

Hopefully pleasantly so..and its never wrong to have two awesomely tasty drinks on hand..

The recipe for the Mai Tai is once again as follows:

mai-tai-2011

1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum
1 oz Martinique Rhum
1 oz Lime Juice
0.5 oz Orange Curacao
0.25 oz Simple Syrup
0.25 oz Orgeat

Shake with crushed ice, pour into a double old fashioned, garnish with a mint sprig

Q.B. COOLER

qb-cooler

1 oz fresh orange juice
1 oz  club soda
1 oz Jamaican rum
1 oz light Puerto Rican rum
0.5  oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz honey mix (equal parts honey/water)
0.5 oz Demerara rum
0.25 oz  Falernum
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1/2 teaspoon ginger syrup

Blend with 4 ounces crushed ice for 5 seconds; top up with more crushed ice and garnish with mint (Julep style)

I really enjoy this drink, here´s a range and depth of flavors that we can thank the cocktail-genius Donn Beach for. a

Do you think these two drinks tastes the same?

Tiki drinks with a Twist

Sometimes you need to sub some ingredients – many are hard to find and others may be finished when you want to make your drink. I have sampled 7 Tiki cocktails and changed them a little to add a bit of a twist, and adjust to what I have at hand, and of course to have some fun playing with ingredients.

DON`S CARIBBEAN PUNCH

CaribbeanPunch1

DON`S CARIBBEAN PUNCH

Caribbean Punch by Don the Beachcomber 1937. From Sippin Safari.
One of the tastiest Tiki drinkls I´ve had, and the root beer I used instead of sansaparilla which I cannot find here had a lot to do with it. For rums I used Scarlet Ibis and Appleton Reserve instead of golden Puerto Rican rum and amber Jamaican, then I used 0.5 oz orgeat instead of 3 drops almond extract.

0.5 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz falernum
0.5 oz simple
1 1/2 oz rootbeer
1 oz Scarlet Ibis
1 oz Appleton Reserve
3 dashes Angostura bitters
1/4 tsp grenadine
6 drops pernod
0.5 oz orgeat (3 dropsAlmond extract)
8 oz crushed ice

Blender with crushed ice 5 sek, tall glass, ice, mint and lime spiral.

CaribbeanPunch2

EASTERN SOUR

Eastern Sour was made by Trader Vic and uses bourbon instead of rum.
The original recipe is lemon juice instead of lime. Its a very rich drink with some spicy undertones.

EasternSour

6 cl Bourbon
4.5 cl orange juice
4.5 cl fresh squeezed lime juice
0.75 cl orgeat
0.75 cl simple syrup

Shake with ice and strain in rocks glass. Garnish with either a spent lime shell or
a wedge of lime and some mint.

HALEKULANI COCKTAIL

Halekulanicocktail

From the House Without a Key Lounge in the Halekulani Hotel, Waikiki Beach, Hawaii. The original recipe calls for the Hawaiian distilled spirit, Okolehao but it`s not made any longer. I added some Passoa passionfruit liqueur to this one and used fresh fruit juices and Hibiscus Grenadine. It reminded very much in the taste of the PortLight becasue of the combination of bourbon, passionfruit, lemon and grenadine.

For garnish I took what I had available which is tons of fresh mint and for color a strip of pink grapefruit peel. Instead of shaking with ice and strain into a cocktail glass I choosed to pour over crushed ice.

1/2 oz. Unsweetened Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz. Fresh-squeezed Lemon Juice
1/2 oz. Orange Juice
1 1/2 oz. Bourbon
1/2 Tsp. Grenadine, 1/2 tsp Passionfruit liqueur
1 Dash Angostura Bitters

Shake well with ice cubes. Strain into a goblet.

DEMERARA PAINKILLER

DemeraraPainkiller

The Painkiller is from Grog Log. I didn`t have any Pusser`s rum or not even pineapple juice yesterday when I made it so I used grapefruit Juice, a barspoon of simple syrup and Banks XM 10 year demerara rum.

At first I made it without the simple syrup but found it a bit too tart so in the next I added a barspoon of syrup and that balanced the tartness of the grapefruit juice. It became a real killer painkiller.

4 oz grapefruit juice
1 oz fresh orange juice
1 oz cream of coconut
2 oz Banks XM10 demerara rum
Powdered cinnamon and ground nutmeg.

Blend without ice and pour into a tiki mug or tall glass filled with crushed ice.
Top with a shake of nutmeg and a pinch of cinnamon. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a piece f fresh pineapple.

AKU LAPU LAPU

AkuLapuLapu2

This Tiki cocktail is from the Aku Aku Restaurant in Las Vegas, circa 1960.
The origial recipe is in Beachbum Berry’s Intoxica! Here I use lime juice instead of lemon and pink grapefruit instead of yellow. The rums are also different from the original which uses dark Puerto Rican rum and Myers`s. A rinse of absinthe on the rim of the glass is added for a subtle tingle.

1 oz. freshly-squeezed lime juice
1 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice
1 oz. white grapefruit juice
1 oz. orange juice
1 oz. falernum
1 oz. dark rum ( Coruba 12)
1 oz. demerara rum (Banks XM10)
1 0z Lemon Hart 151
Rinse the glass with some Absinthe.

Blend with crushed ice for 20 sec and pour into Tiki bowl or large snifter.
Garnish with Pineapple.

KILLER MAI TAI

maiTaiXL2

If there is one drink in the world I think I can do in my sleep its the Trader Vic`s Mai Tai, that`s how much I love this drink and really – I make it often. This is a version that uses Silver Seal 15 year demerara rum as the only rum.

This is one of my favorite rums. (I`m a hopeless demerara lover) When I first tried it in this drink I was surprised a Mai Tai could taste that good…actually the bottle finished in 2 weeks because I couldn´t stop making Mai Tais.

I heard from some friends in London who have the original 17 year old JWray&Nephew rum that the Silver Seal demerara tastes pretty close to it. That was mainly the 28 year old they meant which now is unavailable.

This makes me believe that this rum may not be so far away either, maybe.. .even if it doesn`t exactly match the original flavor as no existing rum today does. Anyway, it makes a brutally good Mai Tai, I have never tasted the like and fortunately this rum is available from http://www.r2mshop.com/

Hopefully one day..in my hopes Appleton may create a similar rum to the 17 year old…According to Appleton the flavor is not lost.

2 oz Silver Seal 15 Demerara rum
1/2 oz orgeat
1/2 oz rock candy syrup or simple syrup
0.75 oz orange curacao
1 oz juice of fresh lime

Sprig of mint and Marascino cherry for garnish

Shake ingredients shortly and pour into an ice-packed glass. This is very important, the glass must be full of either crushed or shaved ice. Garnish with lime and a sprig of mint.

MAITAIXXL

DEMERARA COCONAUT

This is the Coconaut from Beachbum Berry`s Grog Log with demerara rums instead of dark Jamaican rum, as well as some more rum than in the original recipe which makes it a bit less sweet. The Silver Seal and Banks are a yummy rummy combination of 2 very fine demeraras – sub with El Dorado 15 and 12 yo . A dust of nutmeg on top for garnish.

5.25 cl Silver Seal demerara rum
2 cl Banks XM 10
4 tbsp cream of coconut
1.5 cl fresh lime

Mix in blender with crushed ice and serve in double old fashioned glass or in a wide cocktail glass.

DemeraraCoconaut2