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

 

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?

 

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?

MXMO LI (51) – ITS LIME TIME!

mxmologo

Its lime time people! this months Mixology Monday is all about lime and hosted by the Pegu Blog.

The next round of Mixology Monday (a.k.a. The Carnival That Created the Cocktailosphere) will once again be hosted here at the Pegu Blog. This month, I thought we should examine one of the most ubiquitous items in any decent bar: Limes.

i don`t think i`ve ever been without lime..not since i started to mix up cocktails and blog about them. Somehow there´s always a lime somewhere it seems. I can be without mint..like i am now – no mint here, and the shop was without too..but limes? no way, the shops here are NEVER short of limes.

The limes we get here are two types, one small and one real big from Brazil. i like those from Brazil..they have much juice and aren`t sour, just very nice. And the large size gives much peel to make garnish with as well.

For this MxMo there`s tons of drinks i could choose from but i still choose the good old Mai Tai…even though i`m out of mint and a Mai Tai without the mint garnish is kinda sacrilege…but sometimes we just need to do that still and really…i´m not changing the recipe here by adding blasphemies like amaretto, grenadine or pineapple juice! i`m just out of mint..and to my rescue the lime is here!

But i`m gonna tell you folks the truth…the real reason why i`m choosing a Mai Tai and not another cocktail – heck i could even have invented something new! – is that i`m so darn thirsty for one! and i wanna see what happens when one combines the Smith & Cross with a good high proof demerara..that makes two high proof rums and a helluwa Mai Tai i believe.

Using high proof rum in a Mai Tai isn`t necessary but its nice sometimes and of course you could mix one lower proof and one higher as well.

Thank you Pegu blog for giving me an occasion to once again write about and mix up such a nice drink containing lime as the Mai Tai.

Perfect for a lime-themed MxMo! are you with me?

POTENT MAI TAI

potent-mai-tai-mxmo

1 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
1 oz highproof demerara such as Lemon Hart151 or other full proof demerara.
1 oz fresh lime juice (one big lime)
0.5 oz orange curacao (or 1/4 Cointreau)
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. or if you don`t have any mint, like me now, use lime. Its all `bout the lime today right?

I never get tired of the Mai Tai, its one of those drinks that just sticks with you. When i get old i want to have a Mai Tai served daily..

WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE COCKTAIL(s)?

As time goes by….

…and we try more and more cocktails there will always be one, two or three (or more) that keeps being there, rotating and sticking with us and becoming our favorite cocktails. What is it with these cocktails that makes them last? what`s so special with them?

The Mai Tai has been with me for many years, the Sazerac a bit shorter but both are always there and if it takes too long in between – something just tells me that its time – for a Mai Tai – or a Sazerac. The Mai Tai is on my favorite list because its such a perfect cocktail. Its so balanced, yummy, refreshing, exotic – and simple. So simple that most makes it the wrong way.

Please try to understand – its dark rum(s) lime, orgeat, rock candy or simple syrup, orange curacao and mint sprig (and maybe a spent lime shell as well)  for garnish – and crushed ice in a double old fashioned glass. Anything else isn´t a Mai Tai but maybe a “Pineapple Mai Tai” or other but not “Mai Tai” – Period!

Its ok with – say Cointreau if you don`t have orange Curacao, to add a cherry for garnish as long as you stick to the original recipe. Probably the orgeat is the hardest part or that`s what i hear, but now when Trader Tiki delivers orgeat worldwide it should be available if you really want to make it right and its also easy to make. Amaretto is another topic of this discussion, yes it has also an almond flavor but it just won`t replace orgeat i think.

One last thing – a Mai Tai isn`t red, pink or brightly orange – its brownish.

As for the Sazerac, it has just like the Mai Tai an interesting history and i like it with rye – or maybe half rye half cognac – it used to have cognac at first, namely a cognac called Sazerac-du-Forge-et-fils. The problem for me is that no rye is sold here in our spirit shop, yes you heard me – NO – rye. Can you believe that? “But you can special order” some say….yes i can, they have ONE brand to choose from, and even though luckily very good (Wild Turkey Rye) – but – wow. Its really rye-desert here.

Good ryes for Sazeracs are Sazerac 6 year, Rittenhouse Bonded Straight Rye, Old Overholt rye or Wild Turkey Rye. For a luxury experience or a special occasion try Sazerac 18-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey – if you can.

One thing these two of my favorite cocktails has in common apart from being two tasty classical well balanced cocktails, is that they both are traditionally served in my favorite type of glass – the old fashioned. Its just something with that glass, its so homely and comfy, steady in your hand and beautyful too – and i love it.

The Mai Tai is the King of Tiki cocktails and the Sazerac is the official cocktail of New Orleans so you see – both are two steady cocktails. But to be really honest…there is a third favorite as well – Absinthe Suissesse – i love that silky smooth fluffy wonder of a cocktail but i won`t write about that one in this post as i just did that in the last MxMo where i made a little twist of it. If you like Absinthe and haven`t tried the Suissesse yet, i think you should.

SAZERAC

sazerac

1/2 teaspoon Herbsaint or Absinthe
1 teaspoon of simple syrup or 1 cube of sugar or 1 tsp of granulated sugar
4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Optional: 1 dash Angostura, not tradition but some say it opens up the flavors.
2 ounces rye whiskey
Strip of lemon peel

Fill a 3-1/2 ounce Old Fashioned (rocks) glass with ice. Place the sugarcube in another glass and moisten it with water until it saturates and crush it or use simple syrup. Mix with whiskey and bitters, add ice and stir to chill.

Discard the ice from the first glass and add herbsaint or absinthe and coat the sides of the glass, then discard the excess (i like to leave a drop or two in the glass) Strain the whiskey into the glass and twist a lemon peel over the glass to express the oils, then rim the glass with it as well. Discard the peel.

Some like to use the peel as garnish, i`m one of them. But be careful not to drop the entire peel back into the glass as that would give too much citrus flavor.

ORIGINAL MAI TAI

demerara-mai-tai

2 oz Wray & Nephew 17 Year Old Rum (Sub your favorite dark rums here, i would suggest Appleton Extra and St James hors d`age or Clèment VSOP or 2 oz of a good demerara is tasty too)
0.5 oz orgeat ( i used Trader Tiki`s)
0.5 oz orange curacao
0.25 oz simple syrup
Juice of one lime (approx. .75 oz lime juice)

Shake all ingredients with ice.  Strain into a double old fashioned glass over crushed ice. Garnish with lime shell and a sprig of mint. Add two short straws near the mint.

This is truly deliscious and so simple.

And now – i just couldn`t help myself…i just had to add this video of a very (in) famous and entertaining guy – well known by the cocktailsphere…showing how to NOT make a Mai Tai – How many errors can you possibly do? I found these:

1) Tall glass  2) ice cubes  3) wrong rum, and he doesn`t even show us the label 4) triple sec – well..i would rather use cointreau if there`s no orange curacao 5) amaretto 6) grenadine 7) orange juice 8) pineapple juice 9) a float – and even if floats are nice, its not in the Mai Tai recipe  10) long straws 11) the drink isn`t mixed..  12) NO MINT!

WHERE IS THE LIME??? OH MY GOD!!

Check it out, it will bring out a smile f`sure.. its actually quite entertaining. Maybe you`ll find more errors than i did.

WHOHOOO HERE WE GO!! DUMP! DUMP! DUMP! SPLASH!

So what do you think? and which are your favorite cocktails?

A MONTH OF MAI TAIS – Exploring the rums, one Mai Tai at a time

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…

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.

BANKS XM10

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

The demerara rums i`ve used can be purchased at R2M shopSpeciality Drinks, TheWhiskey Exchange or the German and Italy EBay.

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?