MAI TAI TWISTS – let´s have some fun!

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.

HIBISCUS QUEEN


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.

Another interesting post on the subject Mai Tai as foundation you can read over at Chemistry of the Cocktail.

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

 

Tony`s instructions:

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?

 

Sugarcane bar

 

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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
0.25 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.

MAI TAI


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.

My dream job? judging a Mai Tai contest…

 

Sugarcane bar

 

MOZART CHOCOLATE BITTERS – Concentrated Chocolate

The scent of fine raw dark chocolate is irresistible…it can fill a room..

So here we go – the next bitters up are the much talked about Mozart Chocolate Bitters made by Mozart Distillerie GmbH – also mentioned in the posts by Chuck both on his own blog Gumbopages/Looka and the Tales blog.

I heard whispers about them during the Tales after the “Emperor`s New Bitters” session which i for some unknown and totally out-of-this-world-weird reason managed to miss…what the hell did i do that day??? i have no clue but one thing i know is that after that bitters session they were the talk of the Tales so to speak.

I attended the Reematch Beeyatch cocktail competiton at Cure on the monday after Tales and there in the courtyard when we sat and sipped on our drinks all of a sudden one of my friends burst out – there it is!! can you feel it? it´s the chocolate bitters! someone has opened a bottle in here!

And yes indeed i felt it…like a whiff of sweet perfume the fragrance found it´s way around the whole courtyard…and like spies we eyed the crowd to try to see where it came from and then i saw the guy who had the magic bottle. We got samples on the back of our hands and we just sat there and kept sniffing on our hands – and we were not the only ones being hypnotized by this magic chocolate fragrance.

Someone said he would start using this as perfume and a discussion broke out about how this as perfume would make you totally irresistible…i don´t think New Orleans have ever had sexier bitters in town.

I needed to try this out in cocktails…and as perfume? hell yeah!

I`ve had the Mozart Dry chocolate spirit for quite some time now and i love it and have found it incredibly useful and it has gained a space in my home bar that is permanent. These bitters has the same fragrance but here is a delightful bitterness and fragrance of dark raw sexy chocolate – all concentrated in a little cute round bottle.

I did an interesting little experiment, i took the bottle of Mozart Dry Chocolate spirit and the bitters bottle and opened both, sniffed the fragrance and discoverd that they do not smell exactly the same, the chocolate spirit has a faint dry and very fine scent of dark chocolate while the bitters has a much stronger and more rounded and sweeter fragrance.

Then i added some of each on the back of my hands and sniffed on them and the chocolate spirit leaves a very discreet fine chocolate scent while the bitters leaves that stronger more full bodied, spicier and sweeter fragrance. yet they both has the same basic chocolate scent.

I took a sip from the chocolate spirit bottle, it´s a slight burn before the full awesomeness of fine chocolate fills your palate and a very careful sip from the bitters bottle gave at first a very strong burn which when mellowed out left a very warm full aroma of dark cocoa and sweet vanilla.

The Mozart chocolate bitters are made with dark raw and bitter cocoa nibs as the bitter ingredient with vanilla, nutmeg and clove, macerated in the dry chocolate spirit. it`s a delightful product!

So now i finally sit here with that dark brown round little bottle and will mix up something…right now i love my “job”!

I wanted something simple where the bitters can shine through as well as the base spirit so decided to mix up a daiquiri to start with.

KINGSTON DAIQUIRI


1 oz Appleton Extra Jamaican Rum

0.5 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz sugarcane syrup (Petit Canne)

2-3 dashes Mozart Chocolate Bitters

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a muscovado sugar rim or an orange peel.

2 dashes of the chocolate bitters was just perfect to add a subtle chocolaty touch to the flavorful Jamaican rum. Just to test it i added a third dash and stirred. The dark chocolate flavor became more upfront and i can´t really make up my mind which one i like the most…all i can say is that this daiquiri went down way too easily.

The next is a twist of a twist (Bitter Mai Tai) of my favorite drink (Mai Tai)

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 glass and sink the spent lime shell into the drink. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and stick a straw near it.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm….it´s good, very good.

I hope to see Mozart Chocolate bitters sold worldwide. In Europe you can find it here.

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL 2011 – part 3 – Mai Tai – A Paternity Test & Vanilla Vanilla baby!

MAI TAI – A PATERNITY TEST


This seminar was led by Jeff Beachbum Berry, Ian Burell and Steve Remsberg – a trio guaranteed to both enlighten and amuse.

Since the Mai Taii is my favorite cocktail this also was a must seminar. The contoversy of the who made the Mai Tai has been going on for so long but after this seminar the whole thing is a bit clearer at least to me.

I have always been of the opinion that the Mai Tai is Vic´s but how it became his has been a bit blurry, was it a copy of the QB Cooler or not? well now i know – it was a drink in it´s own right inspired by the QB Cooler which by the way we also were served during this seminar. I will never cease to be amazed at how alike they taste – the Mai Tai and the QB Cooler despite the different ingredients.

The seminar took us through the history of the great Tiki bars and then the Mai Tai controversy which now is pretty much cleared up. It`s amazing how a topic can keep being discussed year after year after year and still manage to fascinate people all over the world, that says something about the power of the Mai Tai..

Despite it´s appeal, the Mai Tai wasn´t an immediate success like the Zombie was which also is the very first Tiki drink. It wasn´t until in the year 1954 with the Matson Line that the Mai Tai became famous and the Mai Tai did for Vic what the Zombie did for Don.

So Trader Vic´s Mai Tai is a drink in it´s own right folks! and is one of these drinks that has a perfect balance and flavor.

The 1937 QB Cooler

Remsberg`s oh do cool portable blender.


Ian did bring along a big antique style shaker which he used to ROCK and SWING the drink instead of shaking it…i told ya these guys are amusing!

We also tasted the Florida daiquiri #2 which is very alike the Mai Tai, only a few ingredients differ.

It was a very interesting and also amusing session with a solid trio in the tiki drink and rum world.

VANILLA VANILLA BABY!


This seminar was another not to miss session since i love vanilla and find the vanilla to be one of the most interesting plants and spice on earth.

The session was held by Philip Duff and he took us through how vanilla is made, it´s history and chemical components – this orchid is iamazing. Since i´ve been growing orchids for over a decade and have vanilla as my favorite spice i`m very familiar with it but there´s always something more to learn when it comes to this exotic spice.

Is there any more exotic and sweet smelling mellow spice on this planet? i don´t think so and Philip did a great job presenting it with both knowledge and humour. Of course we were served some  good cocktails as well as tasting samples of vanilla extract, Cariel vanilla vodka, Licor 43 and Stoli Vanil who were the sponsors of this seminar.

One of the cocktails had fresh passionfruit in it and a half shell for garnish and i have never tasted such yummy, fresh and s´crsip passionfruits before, those we get in sweden does not have that same great flavor, these were amazing!

Those who knows me and/or read my blog knows that i use a lot of vanilla in my cocktails and to make syrup and extract. Vanilla is so versatile and my favorite is the Tahitian bean which is fatter, thicker and more floral.

Beautiful, intriguing, sweet smelling, expensive, sexy and irresistible – that is vanilla…and in combo with passionfruit as in this cocktail we got it´s a killer! maybe it´s time to try to dream up a vanilla and passionfruit cocktail?

 

TOTC 2011 – Who’s Your Daddy? A Mai Tai Paternity Test

It`s only about five weeks left until the Tales of the Cocktail 2011 kicks off in New Orleans and it´s time to present a few of the sessions i`m planning to attend this year. If you`re planning to go it`s high time to book your sessions they´re running out FAST!

And the Mai Tai war goes on…..come and listen to what Beachbum Berry, Steve Remsberg and Ian Burrel (UJ Rum Ambassador) has to say about this matter while shakin`up different samples of Mai Tai recipes for us….oh YUM!

We will also see vintage slide-show images and new information learned after the publication of Jeff’s most recent book, Beachbum Berry Remixed.

Beachbum Berry needs no presentation – but you can read about him here and his blog is here

Steve Remsberg owns the world’s largest private rum collection and has lectured on rum and participated on rum judging panels and tropical drink competitions across the U.S. and the Caribbean, read more about him here and here.

Ian Burrel is the UK Rum Ambassador and founder of the UK Rumfest – read about him here.

I have had the pleasure of meeting them all and i can vouch for their expertize and knowledge in all things rum (and tiki)

Do you love the Mai Tai? do you love rum? then this session is for you!

Time: 1 PM to 2:30 PM
Date: Friday the 22nd of July, 2011
Venue: Grand Ballroom South, The Royal Sonesta Hotel
Moderators: Jeff Berry

The session is sponsored by Banks 5 Island Rum.

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?