A MAI TAI A DAY…
As a part of the Mai Tai rum combo cocktail-blog coverage i have made a couple different Mai Tais, mostly from demerara rums. I know the Mai Tai had dark Jamaican rum first, and then was paired with a Martiniqan rum, but i think demerara rums makes awesome Mai Tais and the whole idea of this rum combo coverage is to, well, try different rum combos..
Rumdood alone have over 118 rums to choose from…and i don´t know how many combinations, probably to keep him busy for the rest of his life..So together we will all hopefully cover enough various rum combos to keep most thirsty Mai Tai lovers happy regardless of where you live, we hope there will be something for everyone.
The whole january and into february has been and continues to be Mai Tai month for us, we are working with various rum combinations in our search for the tastiest Mai Tais all based on Trader Vics recipe, as well as attempting to set the recipe for a real Mai Tai straight.
The original Mai Tai by Trader Vic called for the 17 year old JWray & Nephew rum which today exists only a few bottles, if even that, in the hands of a few lucky people. And from what i hear from the taste notes it must have been an exceptional rum for the Mai Tai. Its fun to experiment and i have found that demerara rums makes excellent Mai Tai´s.They give the Mai Tai`s a deep complex flavor, by their own or for that lively flavor, paired with Clement VSOP or St James hors d`age.
For this post i have made 14 different Mai Tais, many with some unusual demeraras but not all. I know many of these rums i use here are hard to find and some very pricey, but i thought it could be interesting still to cover a few of these kind of rums as well and there has been demands for these rums to be written about too.
If i would to sub these demerara rums i have i would use Lemon Hart 151 for the high proofs like Uitvlugt and Silver Seal, and El Dorado 12 for the other heavy demeraras.
Another very good rum combo in my opinion for the original recipe is otherwise Appleton Extra and St James hors d`age, or Clement VSOP. Yet another very nice combo is Pusser`s and Zaya which i first read about in the Tiki Central.
THE ORIGINAL FORMULA
2 ounces 17-year-old J. Wray Nephew Jamaican rum
1/2 ounce French Garnier Orgeat
1/2 ounce Holland DeKuyper Orange Curacao
1/4 ounce Rock Candy Syrup
Juice from one fresh lime
Shake and garnish with half of the lime shell inside the drink and float a sprig of fresh mint at the edge of the glass.
TRADER VIC`s SANCTIONED RECIPE from Intoxica:
1 oz dark Jamaican rum
1 oz Martinique rum
1 oz fresh lime juice (one lime)
0.5 oz curacao
0.25 oz each of orgeat and simple syrup
Mix all ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a glass over crushed ice. Garnish with lime shell and a sprig of mint.
The basic recipe used for my Mai Tais here is Trader Vics formula with either 1 oz each of 2 rums or 2 oz of one rum. I use Vic´s formula because i like its simplicity and balace of flavors as well as letting the rum flavor really come through and i like it better than Don`s Mai Tai which is totally different. Which one of these were the original is an endless discussion which i won´t bother with in this post.
The orgeat i like to use nowadays is Trader Tiki´s extra thick (homemade) when i dont use my own homemade. As for orange curacao, i don´t have it right now, so i used Cointreau but as i find that Cointreau can easily be a bit overpowering, i used 1/4 oz than 0.5 oz. I have listed my Mai Tai`s with the best first (outstanding, which is a 14) and then falling to the last #1 which isn`t bad at all.
One thing i don`t want to be without when i make Mai Tai`s is the mint sprig, because i really love the fragrance of fresh crispy mint when imbibing a Mai Tai, and without mint i think a Mai Tai is naked. But when i`m out of mint (or rather the shops are out) then i use lime for garnish.
The straws need to be short and placed near the mint so the fragrance reaches you. The crushed or shaved ice is another key ingredient, apart from good quality rums.
LET´S SET THE MAI TAI STRAIGHT
Ingredients NOT to use in my opinion, is grenadine and orange or pineapple juices, or amaretto or anything else that is not in the original Vic`s recipe. You may throw in a little bit of this and a little bit of that into a Mai Tai recipe and end up with some very tasty drinks but these are not Mai Tais. Give it a new name!
The possibly WORST Mai Tai recipe i have ever encountered came from a cocktail book: light rum, simple syrup, limejuice, orange juice, orange curacao, coconut milk, green dyed cocktail cherries, red dyed cocktail cherries, orange slices, pineapple chunks…stating after, that all ingredients except the rum can be subbed with instant powder cocktail-mix…
Why adding (and changing) all these stuff to a already perfect recipe? and then even call it a Mai Tai? Trader Vic`s Mai Tai is such a perfectly balanced drink and it deserves to be made right. Its supposed to have fresh lime..its supposed to taste rum! The rums are meant to predominate and shine through in this drink and the rest of ingredients are singing along balancing the rum flavors to perfection.
On to the rum combos! Now – i have used some unusual demeraras here that can be hard to get if you live outside of Europe since most of them are bulk demeraras aged in Scotland and bottled and sold by private importers from for example Italy, but they can be substituted with El Dorado rums.
MAI TAI #14 with Silver Seal demerara 15 yo
This one has long been my favorite. Its simply Mai Tai roa ae, and its just so full flavored and exquisite in perfect balance, intoxicating…and nothing so far i`ve had beats it, period. Or so i thought….but that was until i tried JWray & Nephew´s old Jamaican Dagger Punch dark rum..WOW..i doesn`t really beat the Silver Seal but i found it equally good.
So now i also think i have sort of gotten an idea as to how the Mai Tais were in the old days. I dont know how old the dagger punch rum is, i would guess from between the 40-50s because there`s no evidence of their production after the 1950s. These rums were produced by Wray & Nephew in various age-increments (1 Dagger, 2 Dagger, 3 Dagger) and they were all dark Jamaican rum.
So the 2 now share 1st place, which got me to wonder how these two would combine, more on that soon.
THE SILVER SEAL 15 YEAR DEMERARA
This 110 proof Silver Seal Rum has a way to just perfectly marry the other ingredients and simply make a outstanding Mai Tai, very addictive. The flavor is hard to describe, its fullbodied, a complex mix of molasses, dark chocolate, wood, vanilla, dried fruits, punch and yum!
Another thing i love with this rum in a Mai Tai is that it bites, as its 110 proof. 2 oz Silver Seal 15 year is used. Interesting is that from what i hear from those lucky people having the 17 year old rum, the Silver Seal has a lot of common flavour notes, like an aroma of a heavy burnt caramel, with smoky finish, although the 17 yar old Wray is said to be far heavier with overwhelming woody tones – or so i´ve heard.
MAI TAI #14 JWray & Nephew Jamaican Dagger Punch – Old Jamaican Dark Rum
I was amazed by this one..first by the color, dark mahogany. Then the flavor, which i really cannot describe so easily, its well…vintage. It has dark tones of molasses and dried fruits, and is spicy and woody. Very balanced and complex. I imagine that JWrays 17 year old rum could probably have tasted something similar as well. This dagger is 8 years old.
When i use the Silver Seal i feel like its a bit close to this one but the two are still very different. And i cannot say either what it is that i find they have in common, one is a demerara and the other is jamaican, but there´s that funky punch – pot still.
I had such a hard time to determine which one of these two is the best Mai Tai i`ve had, it didn´t help to sip them side by side, so they will both share the 1 st place. I used 2 oz of the Jamaican dagger rum.I tried this dagger rum in this Mai Tai experiment more out of curiosity that anything else and this rum must be seen as such as its not produced anymore.
MAI TAI #14 with Silver Seal15 and JWray´s Jamaican dagger punch rum
As i found both of these each one on their own to make the best Mai Tais i`ve had so far i decided to combine them and use 1 oz of each. The two combined? sheesh..here is the exquisite, strong, demerara flavor of the Silver Seal with that rich, strong and spicy taste of the Jamaican dagger. The color is much lighter than it was when i used only the dagger punch rum. So now there´s 3 Mai Tais, based on 2 rums sharing the top position.
MAI TAI #13 with Samaroli`s Port Morant 1990, and Banks XM10.
SAMAROLI PORT MORANT 1990
This demerara rum is made by Samaroli and is bottled in 2007 in Scotland. It has no added color. The flavor is very deeply woody, a bit floral and fruity with flavors of molasses. 366 bottles were made so this is a rare find. Port Morant 1990 is 90 proof. I`m not using it in too many Mai Tais, but its hard to resist as it makes real mean Mai Tais, its almost as good as the Silver Seal. Paired with XM10 – a very close number two.
XM Royal Gold 10 Year Old (80 proof) is a superb aged demerara rum with a very round and full flavor profile with fruits, molasses and toffee flavors. One of my favorites. If you can get this one, (and its soon to be sold in US as well), and El Dorado rums plus Lemon Hart 151, then you`re fine as far as demeraras go.
I used 1.5 oz Banks XM10 and 0.5 oz Samaroli Port Morant. I took less of the Port Morant as it has such a strong woody flavor. In these proportions i find it complements the toffee flavors of XM very well.
MAI TAI #12 with Banks XM10
As the XM10 is so yummy, its almost like drinking liquid toffee, i wanted to use only this rum ( 2 oz) in the drink. I`m not dissapointed, the sweetness and roundness of the body in this rum makes an excellent and very smooth Mai Tai which goes down way too easily.
XM Royal Gold 10 Year Old is a superb aged demerara rum crafted by the Aguiar Industries master blenders. This rum is hands down wonderful. Its a creamy full bodied masterwork, very round, with warm round toffee-like flavors. I`m happy for those in the US who soon will be able to buy this fine rum.
MAI TAI #11 Coruba12 and Banks XM10
If we shall talk about yumminess..here it is! Coruba12 has a lot of complexity and some sweetness, dried fruits and molasses-toffeelike flavors and paired with XM10 which is a step ahead with the toffeeness but with the typical demerara flavor, you`re in for a very tasty Mai Tai.
MAI TAI #10 Banks XM10 and JM Reserve Special
My first thought when tasting this one was “wow this is tasty! very very tasty..” Its like the rums just melt together into a real elixir of pleasure. I`m not even sure it shall have no 10. Now JM isnt a cheap rhum agricole…i wish it was. Its really a very good sipping rum, but as we know, the better ingredients, the better cocktails. And in this research any rum that is good could be used i think.
MAI TAI #9 Banks XM10 and Clemént XO
This one is just WOW, so tasty! the punch of the XM10 with its toffeeness paired with Clemént XO which is a outstanding aged rhum agricole, tasty.
MAI TAI #8 El Dorado12 and Clemènt VSOP
This is a very pleasant and tasty Mai Tai. El Dorado 12 is just punchy enough to blend well with Clemènt and combined they are great. I`m unfortunately out of El Dorado 15 but on the other hand, that´s such a strongly punchy rum that it takes over the other flavors a bit. But that`s just my taste. Otherwise its my fav rum together with Silver Seal 15.
MAI TAI #7 Zaya (Guatemala) and Pusser`s 15
This is just so tasty. I first read about it on Tiki Central, long ago and i think it was Pusser´s blue label that was used. Well, this one is tasty too! The punchiness of the navy rum with the sweetness of Zaya – nice!
MAI TAI #6 Lemon Hart Jamaican and El Dorado 12
Here we have a Mai Tai with 2 very good rums and the taste is good but for some reason i expected more, maybe i expect too much? this one tastes good but i guess that with some of these other demeraras its easy to get a bit spoilt. Did i have only these 2 rums to use, i would have loved this Mai Tai. Well, i do, i love all good Mai Tais!
MAI TAI #5 Silver Seal 15 and Clemént VSOP
I expected much of this one, probably because of Silver Seal, but its not as good as i thought but still very tasty i shall not deny that and it became even tastier while it mellowed in the glass. But its a huge difference to use 2 oz of just Silver Seal or to pair it with Clemént VSOP.
MAI TAI #4 Port Royal and St James 12 with Uitvlugt Port Morant 1990 float
Port Royal is a beautiful little demerara rarity which is aged 14 years and is a bit on the sweet side, yet very woody, its 92 proof. I was figuring it would be interesting to pair it with St James 12 year which is a rum i all of a sudden discovered being on limited offer in our spirit shop. I hadn´t seen it before anywhere, neither did i find any information on it but i bought it and yes, its a very smooth agricole rum. Probably its a special edition or something, nobody has been able to tell me anything.
It turned out to be a very very tasty Mai Tai, the smooth St James 12 perfectly blends with the woody Port Royal, so i give it no#5.
The original recipe do not call for any float but i like floats and so here is one with a float of the overproof Port Morant 1990 for an extra kick. I`m totally sure that Banks XM10 and St James12 or hors d`age would be a very nice combo as well. I used 1 oz of each.
MAI TAI #3 Appleton Extra and Havana Club 7 year
This is also a pleasant rum combo and I suspect this will be used by one or more of my fellow blogger friends .This mellow and rich flavored rum combo makes for very tasty Mai Tais. These rums are premium, both are versatile and luckily also moderately priced, good for the “everyday Mai Tai”.. I used 1 oz of each.
MAI TAI #2 Appleton extra and Old Vatted (O.V.D)
With Appleton extra as base i didn`t need to worry about good taste, the addition of 0.5 oz Old Vatted demerara just added a touch of deep woodiness. I had a problem in deciding which one of either this one or the Appleton Extra and Havana Club 7 year, should be #3. But Havana Club7 wins with its overall yumminess.
Here i used 1.5 oz Appleton Extra and 0.5 oz OVD
MAI TAI #1 Banks XM10 and Uitvlugt 1990 fullproof
A kick of the fullproof Uitvlugt to punch up the round sweet and toffeelike XM isn`t bad at all, but i think you got to love demeraras to fully appreciate this combo as the Uitvlugt is a li`l bit on the almost harsh side with the high proof and woodiness.
I used 1.5 oz of XM to 0.5 oz of Uitvlugt. As Uitvlugt highproof (132 proof) is a very strong demerara and i used just a little bit extra simple syrup in this. This rum combo is for those demerara geeks who loves deep woodiness. This is the last one and even though the least on my scale it isnt bad at all.
Overall, the best Mai Tai rum combo suggestions with rums available today, based on my experince with these i`ve tried here, except for the dagger rum which is supposed to be seen as a curiosity, are in no specific order:
Appleton Extra with St James hors d`age or Clemént VSOP
2 oz Silver Seal 15 demerara
(or 1.5 oz El Dorado 12 with a 0.5 oz Lemon Hart 151, alternatively 0.5 oz El D12, 1 oz XM10 and 0.5 oz LH 151, it won`t be the same thing but its the best subs i can think of for the moment)
Banks XM10 demerara
El Dorado 12 and Clemént VSOP
Zaya and Pusser´s
There`s other rums apart from El Dorado 15 that i haven`t used because as i`m out of it and that`s Coruba dark, Appleton Reserve and VX and Lemon Hart 151. I`m sure they would be good in Mai Tai`s as well and mixed with say Banks XM…got to try that one some day! To read more about demerara rums, see my other demerara rum posts.
One thing that fascinates me is that how one rum can be really outstanding paired with another and then when paired with yet a different rum all of a sudden isn´t that outstanding as it was with the first rum. So it isnt so easy to find the ultimate pairing, i`m not even sure if i have and luckily its probably a never ending research. The world of flavors is really fascinating!
So finally here is my advice for those of you looking for perfectly yummy Mai Tais, if you can get it, get Silver Seal15 and Banks XM10, and get Appleton Extra, Clemènt VSOP, Zaya and Pusser`s. Use Trader Vics recipe and don`t add pineapple and orange juices, amaretto or grenadine.
I was asking some fellow bloggers in the mixoloseum chat room about why they think its so hard for people to stick to the real Mai Tai recipe as it is a very simple recipe and it seems like the biggest problem in many places is how to find orgeat. Here i can find it sometimes but i make my own which isnt very hard. As its a bit boring – but not difficult, to get the blanched almonds out of their shell, i don`t make that large batches, i make about 1L at a time. I keep my orgeat in the fridge.
Here´s a link to the orgeat i make: http://fxcuisine.com/Default.asp?Display=26
Here´s another link to orgeat: http://www.artofdrink.com/2006/02/orgeat-syrup.php
I myself have only had a real Mai Tai at a bar only in one place and that was atTikiRoom here in Stockholm, with the rum combos Appleton VX-Havana Cub7 and Appleton Extra-El Dorado dark, what about you? where have you been served at real Mai Tai?