It´s soon time for the “The Kindness of Strangers Beer Event” at the Avenue Pub in New Orleans. When i came back from Nola in august there was a Nola festival here at Akkurat Bar and Restaurant with Abita and Nola Brewing beers, Louisiana inspired menu and the yearly crawfish boils turned Louisiana style too, heck they even threw a belated Mardi Gras party! that´s not exactly what i expected to happen here coming back after almost a month in Nola. It´s actually the first time it happens and i hope it will be a tradition.
Now it´s time to send back those empty beer barrels this time filled with 18 different Swedish beers to Nola to be served at the Avenue Pub on the Swedish Beer Festival on january 21 – the first ever held in America. Also there´s gonna be a Swedsih Beer Dinner at Boucherie.
I think it´s a really cool idea to switch beers like that!
Among the beers to be served is one called the Stormaktsporter which is one of the most coveted imperial stouts in the world. It’s only available in a few places in Sweden and made in tiny batches. I have never yet tried it.
If you wanna read more about this and also see a list of the beers that are going to be served continue reading here.
Those of you my dear readers who are curious about some craft Swedish beers and living in Nola or going there in january, head over to the Avenue Pub on jan 21!
And if you go to Avenue Pub you`ll find one of my friend´s art there.
1732 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans (Between stops #11 and #12 on the historic St. Charles Avenue streetcar line)
Moving on to the topic of Mai Tai twists from the last post about how to do the original Mai Tai right…
So it´s time to play! the goal here is to stay somewhat true to the Trader Vic´s recipe with only some slight changes because i don´t wanna loose too much of the Mai Tai formula..but true Mai Tais it ain´t anymore…
The garnish is changed all the way out though, not a mint to be seen…,not that i don´t like mint and i`m a purist when it comes to the original Mai Tai but it´s refreshing to play with something else. I was going to try to find hibiscus buds but alas no hibiscus anywhere…I did find a red bromeliad flower though and some green dracaena leaves.
I really enjoy walking around in the fruit and plant/flower markets looking for interesting stuff for garnish and to go in the drinks!
Mai Tai twists – i`m all for it and what is tasty or not is so personal. Some find for example the Bitter Mai Tai gross and even an abomination – i find it tasty but then again i`m a Campari geek. In fact i like it so much i even made a twist of it..
BITTER CHOCOLATE MAI TAI
1½ oz Campari
¾ oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
1 oz lime juice (save the spent lime shell to go in the shaker)
¾ oz orgeat
½ oz orange Curaçao
3 dashes Mozart Chocolate bitters
Shake and strain into a double old fashioned or other glass and sink the spent lime shell into the drink. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint, or something tropical.
What is done here? well, one of the rums is switched for Campari and chocolate bitters are added. Not a Mai Tai anymore… and that´s why it has “Bitter Chocolate” in the name.
A lot of what i write here is obvious for many of us, so all of you who already know these things please bear with me…there are many out there who wanna learn.
The addition of Campari for one of the rums is not my invention, the Bitter Mai Tai was created by Jeremy Oertel at Dram in Brooklyn, NYC. I only added the chocolate bitters to the party. There´s also a bitter Mai Tai variation with Cynar instead of Campari. I bet it is good..
I like it bitter – but i also like it sweet and so i`m moving on to a sweet variation in a while.
Way too many bars serves twists on the original recipe that changes the drink very much but they still call those drinks just Mai Tai – like the original Mai Tai and that`s just WRONG.
So here´s the sweet one, using homemade hibiscus grenadine instead of orange curacao and rhum agricole blanc.
1 oz rhum agricole blanc
1 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
1 oz lime juice (save the spent lime shell to go in the shaker)
¾ oz orgeat
0.5 oz hibiscus grenadine
A couple dashes hibiscus tincture (steep dried hibiscus flowers in highproof vodka for 1-2 weeks) on top of the ice. Or by all means, use peychauds.
Shake it up and strain into a tall glass or a hurricane glass (double the recipe) with crushed ice and top the ice with hibiscus tincture (or peychauds) garnish with a red hibiscus flower bud and stick a straw through it.
So by just adding hibiscus grenadine and switching the aged agricole for a blanc it turns out a different drink. Often you only need small changes to transform the drink into something entirely different.
But other times there´s bigger changes…here is another quite interesting variation called Stormy Mai Tai that uses lots of angostura bitters that i found over at Cocktail Quest.
Now on to another very interesting twist, this one was created by my friend Tony Harion from Mixing Bar in Brazil. He uses Brazil nut orgeat and cachaca. Since i can´t get the cachaca he used since it´s not available outside of Brazil i used another VERY good cachaca – Abelha Gold.
UAI TAI – (pronounce it “woai tai”)
1 oz dark Jamaican rum
1 oz oak aged cachaça
0,5 oz Cointreau
0,5 – 0,75 oz lime muddled
0,5 – 0,75 oz Orgeat do Pará or Brazil Nut Orgeat
Muddle lime in the base of a shaker, add other ingredients and proceed like you would in a regular Mai Tai. Garnish with a mint sprig and a lot of love.
For the Orgeat do Pará, use Rick’s (Kaiserpenguin) Orgeat recipe but sub the almonds for Brazil nuts. The orange flower water can be left out.
Switching out the almonds and adding the cachaça brings a whole new character to the drink. The aromatic oils on the Brazil Nuts float to the top and transport you straight to the mountains of Minas Gerais in one snif.
Uai (pronounced jus like “why”) is a very popular slang in Minas and could mean pretty much anything. After three of these I’m sure you’ll understand what it means.
I really like the Ua Tai…it has an exotic flavor..and earthiness from the cachaca.
So what do you think about the original Mai Tai and in doing variations? where is the thin line? when does it become a bastardization?
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
0.25 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.
1 oz Smith & Cross
1 oz Clemènt VSOP
0.25 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.
I stumbled over St Nicholas Abbey rum at the UK rumfest and out of all the new things i tried this is the rum that impressed me the most.
The one i`m gonna write about here is their 12 yo limited reserve rum which is a veritable explosion of flavors and so smooth….yet with a powerful punch. St Nicholas Abbey is a 350 year old plantation on the island of Barbados in the Caribbean with a rich and colorful history which you can read more about on their website.
They have a long traddition in producing rum and is one of the last surviving and intact 17th century plantations on the island. Initially R.L. Seale did help produce St Abbey´s first rums after the plantation was bought 2006 by the Warren family. They have chosen to avoid the mass production in favour of the traditional distillation process that has made rum from Barbados famous for more than 350 years.
What is interesting is that it´s not a molasses rum…it´s made from concentrated cane syrup that is double-distilled to about 92% prior to ageing. (traditional rhum agricole is usually distilled at 70-72%) At the UK rumfest i tasted a couple different agings – among them the 10 and the 12 yo plus the unaged and unlabeled rum they called the “see through” which isn`t sold commerically.
The unaged “see through” was made with estate grown cane, crushed in a traditional steam press and then made into cane honey and then fermented before a rough distillation in the pot column hybrid still. And then put through again and taken it off at 92% abv and cut with water to about 43%.
I have here their 12 yo dark rum in that stunning glass decanter and a sample of their unaged “see through” rum which is surprisingly smooth – very smooth actually and with a rich fruit and vanilla finish.
The “See Trough”
St Nicholas Abbey 12 yo
The 12 yo is so good that i am hesitant to mix with it but i`m gonna mix a cocktail nevertheless and it got to be a daiquiri since i don´t wanna destroy this fine rum with too many mixers and juices. It`s hand bottled unblended straight from the barrel in a glass decanter that is one of the awesomest i´ve seen with the great house, built in 1658 and palmtrees beautifully engraved on the glass.
The heavy decanter is sealed with a beautiful mahogany cork topped with hand-embossed leather, a symbol of the island’s first mahogany trees, that was planted 250 years ago on Cherry Tree Hill. And i find that cork very sturdy, something that i really like and which is necessary to keep the rum well closed in.
The label is applied by hand and each decanter is engraved with both a number and date. I really have nothing to complain about concerning this stunning decanter. They really have come up with some classy packaging!
The 12 yo rum won gold medal at the Ministry of Rum tasting competition in 2009 and the 10 yo won silver in the 2009 International Wine and Spirits competition.
Today the plantation also have a cottage industry producing a range of very interesting and pleasant condiments such as St Abbey Blackstrap Molasses, Pepper Rum, Gourmet Sugar and Hotpepper sauce which can be purchased at the plantation. That pepper rum, hot pepper sauce and black strap molasses….i feel like going straight to Barbados!
Before i make that daiquiri i`m going to describe how i find the 12 yo rum in the nose and on the palate:
ST NICHOLAS ABBEY 12 yo Limited Reserve
I would describe the nose as warm, rich and fruity with a touch of spices, wood and caramel. It´s like it tells you – taste me…
ON THE PALATE:
Well here we go…this is a journey into the land of what a really great rum can be…and swirling the rum the many “rum-legs” makes the glass almost striped.
This is really good stuff. I find it difficult to describe flavors but what i find here is even harder to describe because it´s such an explosion of flavors completely filling your mouth, I find tropical dried fruits, caramel and oak, molasses, and spice.
It`s a veritable flavor attack actually, filled with fruits, warmth, dried leather and it got punch. I start to wonder how a Mai Tai with this would taste…hmmm…
But i`m not making one, i`m making a daiquiri instead. But really, this is a premium sipping rum and i`m not gonna use up my precious bottle for too many mixed drinks, i have other good rums for that. It also has a long finish as well leaving you warm and comfortable.
What i`d like to do is just sit back in an old leather couch sipping this while reading a good book – or relax on the porch in a rocking chair somewhere where it´s warm and tropical. This rum provides great flavor and comfort.
WITH ST NICHOLAS ABBEY RUM TRUFFLES:
I was provided with a little lagniappe (a New Orleans expression for that little extra) to go with the rum…their own rum truffles! these are some wonderful dark chocolate truffles made with St Nicholas sugarcane rum, cocoa butter and dark chocolate coverture dusted with very small ruby red glittering stardust…like a dust of microscopic stars…
Inside is a crunchy yumminess – which paired with the rum took the rum flavors in a different direction to a higher sweeter level ending with a very fruity finish.
Well this was a treatment indeed! leaving you feeling like a luxury queen:-) I like how they put attention to details from the beautiful engravings of the bottle to the thin stamped paper enclosing it inside the box – or the little golden truffles box with brown satin wrap with St Nicholas Abbey stamped in gold.
It´s all just beautiful.
All i can say is that this is a exquisite aged rum, one of the best i´ve had. It´s full bodied, complex, flavorful and pleasant. You get a lot of good handcrafted old style rum here. I like the heavy beautiful glass bottle as well and it`s a rum with a colorful and rich history. My overall impression is that of a solid and very pleasant top shelf rum.
Finally, here´s a daiquiri with a demerara sugar syrup and fresh lime:
ST NICHOLAS DAIQUIRI
2 oz St Nicholas Abbey 12 yo rum
0.75 0z fresh lime juice
0.5 oz demerara syrup
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe.
Garnish with a golden demerara sugar rim.
As i expected it makes a tasty daiquiri but i still think it should mostly be sipped.
These days i rarely attend the TDNs since i`m not at the same lazy job i used to have in the good old days when i attended every thursday….:-) mind you, the TDN starts in the middle of the night where i am…but who can resist mixing up a tiki drink for TDN Nuku Hiva?
For those who doesn`t know, TDN stands for “Thursday Drink Night” and is a online gathering and celebration (but some also meet in person, i have done a TDN once in the US with Kaiserpenguin for example and i think i did one from New Orleans too) of cocktail mixing with cocktail bloggers, spirits writers, bartenders, and drinks enthusiasts.
It takes place on thursday nights, once a week mostly to chat and mix up tasty and sometimes crazy cocktails based on a given theme which can be a particular spirit, mixer, bitters, fruit, memorial or something else.
This thursday the theme was Nuku Hiva.
I have special appreciation for Polynesia and i have spent time reading many books about French Polynesia and the Marquesas islands over the years whose history i find fascinating. The Marquesas are a chain of ten large mountainous islands and some smaller islets in east-central Polynesia and it`s ancient name is Henua Enana – The land of men.
These are some of the most remote islandsin Polynesia with a rich history as wild as the beautiful nature.
But the TDN topic Nuku Hiva have a scary back story…
[The] theme will be “Nuku Hiva” based on recent events on that tropical Polynesian island. A little back story:
In early October, the charred remains of a German adventurer were discovered at a campfire site on a South Pacific island. The tabloid media were quick to portray the slaying as a possible case of cannibalism on Nuku Hiva, an island historically known for human sacrifice. But locals are offended and experts say such killings are a thing of the very distant past.
You can read the rest of the story here. Seems to me like a one mad man crime and i believe these sort of crimes are unusual there. But it´s not that sad and disturbing story that is the reason for inspiration of this TDN but rather the outstanding potential of tiki material here.
So this was the rule – Make a tiki drink with at least one German ingredient, bonus points if you use fire. Participants could log in to the Mixoloseum chat room to mix it up in real time with the rest of the boozenerds.
So i don´t need much encouragement to get going with a tiki drink and so a drink inspired by the Marquesan island Nuku Hiva i did and with fire of course, properly served in a tiki mug:
Shake hard with ice and strain into tiki mug with filled with crisp glistering crushed ice and throw in a fresh mint sprig. Or make it the way i did with a ice-cone.
Place half limeshell on top filled with overproof rum and set on fire.
HOW TO MAKE THE ICE CONE
Fill a pilsener glass with shaved or crushed ice and stick a straw through it all the way to the bottom. Put in freezer overnight. Next day warm up the glass with hot water so the cone slides out off the glass and then melt enough at the top to expose enough straw to drink from. Put in glass.
Here´s the link to the drinks that were made that night on twitter.