When it comes to drinking, I have two obsessions. The first is Bourbon, the second is the tiki drink.
Arguably, the granddaddy of all Tiki Drinks is the Mai Tai. I’ve done a lot of research into this topic and have done a lot of travel to some of the most famous tiki bars in the United States (and one in Europe) as ‘research’ for this post.
First, I generally find that Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s books / iphone app are the most “correct” and “authentic” resources you will find. The Mixel app is also a great resource. Finally, the Wikipedia article on the drink is quite good, but I have some important details to add.
If you want a good, quick history of the drink, I recommend “Food: Fact or Fiction,” season 4, episode 19. I’ll spare you most historic details for this blog post, but the first Mai Tai was created by Trader Vic in 1944 for his restaurant in Oakland. (Donn Beach, or Don the Beachcomber has also stated that the drink stemmed from one of his drinks he created in 1933, but there’s a lot of variance there.) This recipe is based upon Trader Vic’s original. This is as close as you can get without spending $50,000 on a bottle of rum. Without further ado…
- “The juice of 1 lime” – This comes out to about 1 oz, but the important part is you should use one freshly squeezed lime.
- ½ oz orange Curaçao – the other colors could work also—the taste is the same–but the final drink won’t have the correct appearance. And we’re going for authenticity here!
- ¼ oz orgeat syrup – ideally homemade, but I personally use Liber & Co’s syrup. One small bottle will make you just under 40 Mai Tais.
- ¼ oz sugar syrup
- 1 oz dark Jamaican rum – I recommend Appleton Rare, but Appleton Signature (or Reserve) will do.
- 1 oz aged Martinique rhum (I use Clement Rhum Vieux Agricole VSOP.)
You will also need:
- 1 mint sprig. (For garnish)
- An old fashioned glass. (Note: It is also possible to purchase the original Trader Vic’s glass. )
- Plenty of crushed ice. (You can crush ice manually, but I use an old Oyster / Imperial Model 552 that I bought off of eBay. It’s better than the shitty Chinese crushers you’ll get on Amazon today.)
- An Ice Shaker. I like Boston shakers but whatever you like will work.
Cut the lime in half and squeeze both halves into your ice shaker. Save the better looking spent lime shell for garnish. Put all of the ingredients and the crushed ice into a shaker and then pour unstrained into a double old fashioned glass. Sink your spent lime shell into the drink. Garnish with a mint sprig, and enjoy!