Mai Tai

by Matt Robold on December 14, 2009

Post image for Mai Tai

Iconic rum drinks are numerous.  From the daiquiri to the mojito to the omnipresent “Rum & Coke” (or Cuba Libre if you’re going to do it properly), they’re everywhere.  In 1944 one of the most iconic rum cocktails of all, perhaps only dwarfed by the daiquiri, was introduced by Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron.  The flagship of all tiki drinks, it’s just hard to beat a good Mai Tai.

Mai Tai

1 oz Jamaican Rum
1 oz Martinician Rhum
.5 oz Orange Curacao
.75 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Orgeat
.25 oz Simple Syrup

Mix all ingredients and shake with ice.  Strain over crushed ice, garnish with a lime shell and a sprig of mint.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re wondering how many times I think I can get away with posting the recipe for the Mai Tai and consider it a new post.  It’s not my fault this time though.

You see, Kevin Langmack at Beers in the Shower is hosting this month’s Mixology Monday and called for “Money Drinks.”  If you aren’t sure what a “Money Drink” is, allow Kevin to explain:

I feel a “Money” drink is something you can put in front of anyone, regardless of tastes or distastes about the spirits involved. Come up with a drink or a list based on spirits about drinks that would appeal to anyone. example: turning someone onto a Corpse Reviver #2 when they like lemon drops.

I know just about everyone that preaches the gospel according to Saint Cocktail has their own special Money Drink.  For some I’m sure that’s a perfect Manhattan.  Others might serve the crispest Martini or the most sumptuous Last Word ever known.  Any such drink, if made well, could convert someone to cocktails.

I’m sort of into rum.  As such, I tend to try to convert people to my favorite spirit quite often, and I can tell you that I have had success with no drink like I have with the Mai Tai.

A true Bergeronistic Mai Tai is tart and refreshing with the wonderful notes of mint, orange, lime, and almond dancing on top of the deep, funky flavors within the rum.  It’s a drink that defies seasons, despite its tropical nature.  And I would know, I have had one or two Mai Tais in my time.

I’ve even been known to up the ante on the Mai Tai by upgrading the basic spirits (I usually use Appleton Estate 12 and Clement VSOP) to their top-shelf brethren, much like Paul Clarke suggested as an alternate expression of a “Money Drink:”

Along with what you mentioned, I’m thinking it could include stuff along the lines of “there are some drinks that really prompt you to break out the good stuff”, including ways people upgrade drinks for special occasions — having old friends over, birthday drinks, etc, for example mixing your regular Sazerac, but breaking out the Red Hook Rye and the Jade Edouard absinthe for a Sazerac capable of breaking the sound barrier.” – the only rule to this one is you actually have to make it -

Not a problem for me, as I’ve already taken the Mai Tai and the One Hundred Dollar Mai Tai and turned the knob all the way to eleven once before:

$300 Mai Tai

1 oz Appleton Estate 21 Year Old Rum
1 oz Clement XO Rhum Agricole
.5 oz Clement Creole Shrubb
.5 oz Orgeat
.75 oz Lime Juice
1 tsp Simple Syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker, shake with ice, strain into a glass filled with crushed ice.  Garnish with sprigs of mint and a wedge of lime, and a hundred dollar bill

I know it might seem a bit crazy to put such expensive rums into a cocktail, but when you consider that the original Mai Tai called specifically for Wray & Nephew 17 Year Old Rum, and that today that rum goes for about $60,000US, you’d have to say that the $300 Mai Tai is a real bargain, right?

Question of the Day:

What’s your go-to, Money Drink that no one can say “no” to and keeps people coming back for more?

{ 5 comments }

Paul Etter December 23, 2009 at 1:57 pm

I was playing around with black strap trying to come up with a suitably dark and scary tiki drink inspired by Martin Denny’s “Similau” and wound up with a cocktail I’m calling the Stone God. So far, I haven’t found anyone who’s asked for their proverbial “money” back. Dim the lights, throw on some exotica and conjure up a Stone God.

Of course, this is just the $10 job. You could certainly up the ante by using Appleton Reserve, 12 Yr, 21 Yr or Master Blender’s Legacy.

Stone God
1.5 oz Appleton V/X
0.5 oz Cruzan Black Strap
0.5 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz lime juice
0.5 oz Rothman & Winter Apricot Orchard Liqueur
0.25 oz homemade ginger syrup
0.25 oz Velvet Falernum
Dash of bitters

Shake with cracked ice and serve in a double old fashioned (or a Moai mug if you have one) and garnish with a sprig of mint and a sugar cane swizzle.

Ruben January 4, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Paul, the Stone God sounds incredibly tasty and a good way to use the bottle of apricot brandy that usually never leaves my spirit collection to be mixed into a drink! Thank you for that! I have no Cruzan Black Strap though here in Germany, guess i’ll substitute the whole rum bundle by 2 oz of Appleton Extra.

If it’s as good as it sounds, I’ll serve it to our guests at the bar :)

Paul Etter January 4, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Ruben, to approximate the black strap, you might try adding in just a drop or two of mild unsulphered molasses. The hint of molasses is one of the underlying flavors that really makes this drink interesting. That, and the ginger syrup. That’s easy enough to make by thinly slicing a 2-inch long peice of ginger and placing it in a saucepan with 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Bring it to a boil while stirring to disolve the sugar. Lower the heat, cover the saucepan and let it simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat with the lid on and allow to sit for two hours before straining and bottling. I hope you like it!

scomorokh January 9, 2010 at 3:54 am

I am a big Mai Tai fan too. One of my best Mai Tai that I ever made –

30 ml Angostura 1824 (heavy amber rum from Trinidad, approx. 100 USD per 0,7 l bottle in my country)
30 ml Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos (great aged cuban rum, approx. 30 USD per bottle)
30 ml fresh lime juice
15 ml orgeat (I use Monin)
15 ml orange curacao (I use BOLS Dry Orange Liqueur)
5 ml homemade rock candy syrup (refined sugar, unrefined demerara cane sugar Billingtons, tsp. muscavado unrefined cane sugar and some drops of natural vanilla extract)

all ingredients about 200 USD.

it is awesome drink with very complex and aromatic taste and flavors.

That you think about Angostura rum (Trinadad and Tobago)? Do you taste it?

TRNichols March 9, 2010 at 11:02 am

On a hot day this drink will make you feel cool.I call it Tommys WTF.

Fill tall glass with crushed ice:Add 1/3 White rum,1/3 O.j and 1/3 Pink grapefruit juice,then add 1/4 oz. Campari,you’ll be surprised!Bottoms up.

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