And the challenges continues…just a quick post on the last one, which is my all time favorite tiki drink, the good old Mai Tai……
And perfect for this challenge I happened to have a very special rum mix just waiting to be used…it`s a mix of six rums that was barrel aged for six months in an oak barrel and was made by Oriol Elías over at Three of Strong as an experiment, and with that I made a 1944 Trader Vic´s Mai Tai.
And the taste? well, I put it among the best Mai Tais I ever had….and I have had very many!! and the rums? Lemon Hart 151 and Lemon Hart overproof Jamaican…St James Royal Ambre Rhum Agricole…Appleton 8, Plantation 3 Stars and Myer`s Jamaican…
The result is nothing but spectacular in this Mai Tai…
If you want to get the ratios for making this rum blend head over to Three of Strong and write him a message. It`s his blend of barrel aged rums that made this Mai Tai to taste so amazingly good!
The fun thing with these challenges is that it´s not that serious, it´s all for the fun and you are free to experiment and come up with any kind of wild creations 🙂
So this is 2 oz of the Mai Tai rum blend, 0.5 oz Ferrand Dry Curacao, 0.25 oz each of orgeat and sugarcane syrup, juice of 1 lime, shaken and served with crushed ice.
The other Mai Tai I made was also Trader Vic`s recipe, a double, with 1 oz Denizen Rum Merchant`s Reserve, 1 oz Blackwell Rum and 2 oz Rum Nation Caroni with a float of Cruzan Blackstrap and then I decided to give it a wild garnish….. (pic on top of this post)
I`d suggest you head over to Instagram to #maitaichallenge2015 for inspiration…at least I get inspired by looking at how other people makes their drinks 🙂 and don`t forget to follow @el_nova_1
Here are only a few of the mouth watering Mai Tais that were submitted for the challenge, for your inspiration:
Picture credit to the owners of the pics in the Mai Tai parade….! Cheers!
Recipe from Jeff Berry`s Tiki app – Total Tiki! (for Iphone and Ipad) get it here.
The fifth rum bottled by Rum Swedes is a 16 year old Caroni, ABV 61.3% or 122.6 proof. This is the sister cask of the 15 year old Caroni 97 that they released a year ago and which i wrote about here. This Caroni is heavier and have a stronger character than the first one.
It`s a strong oaky, woody rum laced with tropical fruits.
It was distilled in 1997 by the Caroni distillery, then aged in a bourbon barrel and bottled in 2013, there are 249 bottles.
I just love Caroni rums – and it´s the heavy ones i love the most – and i think it´s such a shame they are no more produced, so make sure to try them and grab a few bottles before they are gone.
They are pricey yes – but the content in those bottles is really also something very special, and they are rum history.
Nose – I find the nose brimming with notes of tropical fruits and wood, apricot, mature banana, molasses, orange peel, toffee. It`s a very pleasant nose which invites you to have a sip.
In the mouth – The tropical fruits come clearly to the surface and there´s a pronounced tropical exotic fruit taste with a strong woody backbone. It`s easy to sip even though this is a strong rum and there´s a slight burn on the tongue which quickly fades and gives way to rich hints of wood and toast.
A few drops of water brings out a more woody character but at the same time it gets smoother.
This is a real nice Caroni – strong, rich, flavorful and does have a lot of character. I give it a 4 out of 5.
With such a nice rum i really feel like making a Mai Tai because i know it`s gonna be good…
Recently Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell made a VERY tasty Mai Tai for me at Koko-Mo, when he was guest bartending after his Rum Masterclass seminar and i used his recipe for this Mai Tai (just switching out the rums) which is a bit different from the usual Trader Vic`s and it´s not the Don Beachcomber Mai Tai either.
The flavor in this Mai Tai was pleasant, rummy and strong, giving a nice buzz…and a flavor with much character and personality, not on the too sweet side, just the way i like it! in other words – it`s a full flavored Mai Tai!
Rum Ambassador´s Mai Tai
2 oz Caroni-97
0.5 oz Don`s mix (a 2:1 mix of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice to cinnamon syrup used by Donn “Don the Beachcomber” Beach in his seminal 1934 Zombie Punch.
0.25 oz orgeat
0.25 oz rich demerara syrup
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a double old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice, garnish with a mint sprig, add a short straw near the mint.
This Caroni is available for purchase online at the Master of Malt website and in Sweden, here.
The first time encountered Denizen rum i was very pleased with it`s flavor, it was their white rum i tried and reviewed. Denizen rums are blends of rum from the Caribbean selected by master blenders in Amsterdam who have been handcrafting small-batch Caribbean style rums dating back to the early 1700s, when the Netherlands colonized much of the Caribbean.
Now Citizen Spirits have followed up with an aged rum that is a blend of aged plummer style pot still rum from Jamaica and also are component of Rhum Grande Arome from the Le Galion S.A.E.M distillery in Martinique.
60% of this rum has been aged 8 years in small used American oak bourbon barrels. The Jamaican rums used in this blend come from Worthy Park, Hampden, New Yarmouth, and Clarendon. Most of the aged rum comes from Worthy Park Distillery.
The rums used in the blend were fermented using slow working yeasts in order to extend the fermentation time and allow the high ester flavor compounds to fully develop – a very important step in the rum making process.
One of the reasons they chosed to include the molasses based rhum grande arome in the blend and not the more traditional rhum agricole from Martinique is because when they checked in with rum cocktail historians during the development process – they were told that Trader Vic likely blended this type of rum from Martinique with the 17 year Wray and Nephew in his original Mai Tai formula because it was cheapest rum available from Martinique at the time.
Having learned this, they tried to come up with a historically accurate classic amber rum that is unapologetically funky and would have made Trader Vic proud. The fact that it has been aged 8 years also makes it a fine sipping rum despite it being slightly higher proof at 43% ABV.
Denizen Merchant’s Reserve should be available in the US early April. Citizen Spirits will launch it in New York City and San Francisco initially and then expand to additional markets.
So i go straight to the Mai Tai eh?
This is a rum which obviously is partly designed for making great Mai Tais but of course not only – but also to be sipped neat and make other cocktails with – and flavorless cocktails you won`t get with it.
What a shame i haven`t had any chance to try the old JWray 17 year….which is a long time dream of mine, so therefore i cannot compare with it, but i can compare with other Mai Tais i`ve had with great rums and see how this rum stand up in comparison and i have a feeling it will do very well.
Also the Denizen Merchant’s Reserve earned a score of 94 at the 2014 Ultimate Spirits Challenge and was recognized as a finalist. Scoring 94 points is equivalent to “Excellent and highly recommended”
Let´s taste it.
Nose – It`s a fruity nose with a bit of citrus and apricot, a hint of wood, very fresh.
Mouth – The same fruitness is there and it has a warm spicy finish. A hint of sugarcane, warm caramel, ripe tropical fruit, dried banana, apricot, wood.
My impression – This is a warm, funky and flavorful rum, not much alcohol burn, it´s smooth enough to sip and flavorful enough to mix tiki drinks with, at the same time it`s great for classic rum drinks as well. Fruity and spicy!
I bet it`s good to drizzle over ice cream too…or use in baked papaya with butter, vanilla and demerara sugar.
The first drink i wanted to make with this rum is the PYT swizzle from Rumba Seattle, (a bar and Caribbean restaurant in Seattle) and a place where they make some extraordinary cocktails, actually everything they make at that place looks tasty, i hope i can visit some day.
The PYT swizzle first catched my attention on instagram where i saw pictures of it after it won the Island Imbibe competition in august 2013. I thought it looked so tasty….so here`s a version of it with Denizen Merchant`s Reserve and again, i regret not having any mint!
Top with a heavy doze of angostura and peychaud`s bitters
But mint or not, with this rum the swizzle turned out nice and spicy!
The next drink is the quintessential test cocktail when you wanna evaluate a rum in cocktails, due to it`s simplicity and way of letting the rum shine through in such a way that you cannot make a good one with a bad rum – the classic daiquiri.
And yes, it pass the test! this rum makes a very nice and somewhat spicy daiquiri!
And finally…the Queen of Tiki Drinks…(and the Zombie is the King:-)
2 oz Denizen Merchant`s Reserve rum
1 oz fresh lime juice (add the spent lime shell to shaker and later, in the glass)
0.5 oz orgeat
0.25 oz Combier triple sec
Shake all ingredients and garnish with mint – or if you don`t have mint, add the spent lime shell and a sherry into the glass.
Serve in rocks glass with crushed ice.
Yep, it definitely makes a great Mai Tai, the kind that gives that extra yummy after taste, provided you use good quality mixing products throughout. Of course i did the Trader Vic´s Mai tai. The only thing i regret is that i was out of mint but instead i just used the spent lime shell and a sherry.
To wrap it up – Denizen Merchant`s Reserve is very good, flavorful and i warmly recommend anyone to try this rum!
I got a Caroni here…Caroni 1997 single barrel rum from Trinidad…it´s a full proof heavy rum ( 61.8% ABV) aged 15 years – 13 years in Trinidad and 2 years in England and then bottled in Glasgow, Scottland. The color is a beautiful dark mahogany.
The Caroni disitllery was closed down in 2002 due to industry consolidation and many of the barrels that were sold ended up in England.
This bottle i have here is a sample provided by the Swedish bottler ” Swedish Firewater” (Svenska Eldvatten in Swedish) and they are an independent bottler mainly specializing in Whiskey) This bottle is a bourbon cask #108 out of 114 bottles.
CARONI SUGAR FACTORY
There were originally more than 50 different rums brands produced in Trinidad – by 1950 that number had reduced to 8 and today there is only one left – Angostura. Caroni was established in 1918 on the site of the old Caroni Sugar factory and operated until 2002.
The Caroni sugar factory started to operate a cast iron still in 1918 and at that time there were some eight or ten other sugar factories operating, each producing different types of rums and these rums were bought up by merchants and sold to rum shops all over the island. There were all kinds of “blends” and concoctions being made by both the merchants and the rum shop owners and sold over the counter as “petit quarts”
Eventually Caroni increased the quality of the distilling process and went from the original cast iron still to use a wooden coffey still – until 1945 when they got a copper still which was followed by a single column in 1957 and then a four column Gerb Herman still in 1980.
For nearly 100 years Caroni has had large sugar estates on the island and was the major producer of molasses. Sadly now since it`s closed no more of their magnificient rums are produced and when it´s gone it´s gone.
And that is sad because the Caroni rums are unique. That said i must confess i haven`t yet tried many but the ones i`ve tried have all been outstanding and original in the same way as the demerara rums are.
And i must say the flavor DOES remind me quite a bit of a demerara rum, it has the same full bodied and smoky character but without that demerara flavor that only demerara rums have but it has the same type of character.
Caroni 1997 Single Barrel Rum
I must say i`m against ruining good rum with additives and sugars (yes sugar) and filtered to the point of losing both character and personality becoming a commercial anonymus product for the masses – sadly believing that what they drink is real rum…
But that`s not the case with this rum i have here – this is pure rum full of flavor. Since it´s so strong I`ve been sipping it very carefully, and then finally mixed it in a few rum cocktails containing juices, sugarcane syrup and ice.
The nose is strong and powerful, breathing closely it´s a bit harsh due to the alcohol strength but after letting the rum sit and breathe in the glass for about 10 minutes the initial harshness is gone and there`s wonderful aromas of oak, sugarcane, caramel, toffee and smoke…it´s just lovely…
Due to how strong it is I prefer to add some ice to the glass. I think this rum is in flavor like a fine cognac with sugarcane and caramel but too strong to drink neat. There is also a spicy smokiness to it that i like very much.
This is a massive rum!
This rum can be both sipped and mixed and I must say it`s a fantastic mixer and it makes a killer Mai Tai of the kind I have only made with heavy and full proof demerara rums before.
Caroni Mai Tai
1.5 oz Caroni
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz orange curacao ( i used Ferrand´s Dry Curacao)
0.25 oz orgeat
0.25 oz sugarcane syrup
Crushed ice and a fresh mint sprig
Half spent lime shell in the shaker and then dropped in the glass – to add the aromatic fragrant oils from the peel
Shake with ice and strain into a double old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Smack a mint sprig and put a short straw near the mint.
This recipe is the classic Trader Vic`s Mai Tai – i have only reduced the usual 2 oz of 2 different rums to 1.5 of the Caroni due to it`s strength and then also reduced the 1 oz lime juice to .75.
This Caroni Mai Tai is very addictive….
And for the second drink, i choosed a cocktail from the book “Cuban Cocktails” (by Anistatia Miller & Jared Brown) called Nacional Cocktail ( 1948 version) and changed it a little bit by adding a little sugarcane syrup and up the pineapple juice 1 oz and added 2 dashes of Boy Drinks World Serrano Cocktail Spice – which technically isn`t a bitter but a highly concentrated pepper tincture.
You may sub it by infusing the simple syrup with a fresh serrano pepper to get that serrano heat and flavor in the drink. Just cut up a pepper and let it boil shortly with the syrup when you make it and leave to cool.
Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.
The combination of strong Caroni rum, Pineapple, lemon, apricot and the hot serrano flavor makes this cocktail really stand out, it´s very very tasty! The combo of serrano and pineapple is match made in heaven…
So my final conclusion is that this Caroni -97 single barrel rum is a real gem, fit to sip and excellent to mix with. It`s massive, powerful and untamed.
I like this style of rums, they got so much explosive and comples flavors.
Shake together the ingredients with the a spent lime shell in the shaker and strain into a huge glass or two glasses filled with freshly crushed ice. Garnish with fresh mint, the spent lime shell and if you like, a sherry to add some color.
You don´t need to have the exact rums i`m using, try use 2 different good quality dark rums, one overproof dark rum and one aged rhum agricole.
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.