Skip to main content

The Mai Tai - an opinionated review.

It seems, that the Mai Tai got quite a revival these days. I seen it on quite a lot of menus - unfortunately in the most despicable recipes and ingredients lists.

Let’s first of all state, what the Mai Tai isn’t: the Mai Tai isn’t your typical tiki drink. For sure - it started in a Tiki restaurant - and it has been the creation of one of the two most iconic Tiki fathers - it was either way Don the Beachcomber or Vic “Trader Vic’s” Bergeron.

And while nobody seems to know, who really have been the first who named their cocktail “Mai Tai” - only Trader Vic provided the iconic recipe, which has been copied, simplified and abused.

Look, the Beachcomber recipe is the typical Tiki drink - which is far too strong, uses far too many ingredients - you get the point. No - this isn’t a rant about Tiki drinks...

Trader Vic’s Mai Tai is a combination of great aged funky rum, quality orange liqueur, orgeat and fresh lime - and maybe a hint of hyper concentrated sugar syrup. That’s it. It is a bit like a daisy or a fancy sour. You can taste the rum - the orange liqueur and orgeat syrup (which is a fancy almond syrup) are just supporting the rum aromas. It is an amazing concoction.

However - if you strip away the greatness - not much is left. Far too many bars are using two different rums - non of them particularly good quality products.

So how ddid the confusion with the two different rums started? Well - it started all in Trader Vic’s - the original rum: Wray Nephews 17 years old has been never intended to be a mass product - and soon the stocks were depleted. Next in line has been Wray Nephews 15 years old - which has been though also depleted with the success of the cocktail (and the Trader Vic’s bar restaurant chain).
After that, somebody seemed to have had the idea, to mix a Rhum Agricole with a dark Jamaican rum, to achieve the same aromas of the original cocktail. My experience for sure denies to believe for one second, that this worked. Further there were a lot of bars, which didn’t even had simple Rhum Agricole.
Additionally there has been (in other bars) the misconception about ingredients: a pineapple piece has been the original garnish in a Mai Tai from the humble beginning - but bartenders seemed to confuse the garnish with an additional ingredient: pineapple juice. Don’t even ask me, who had the idea to add simply stupid ingredients like grenadine...

Long story short - the best way to return the credit to the Mai Tai, is using one great rum. For the moment we are using at Noir Appleton 21 years old (as the 18 years old is no longer available). And it is a great Mai Tai - for sure not cheap, but incredible complex and classy.  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to use citric acid - and why you might not want to use it anyway!

To be honest, I shied away of this topic, because I think, people can misinterpret this - big time.


I don't want to be part of the problem - I want to be part of the solution! But when Chris, over at A Bar Above discussed this subject- I literally could not resist to join into "the discussion".

Here is the video:





I - however take a bit slower approach than Chris.
What is citric acid?
Chemical Compound
Citric acid is a weak organic acid with the formula C6H8O7. It is a natural preservative/conservative and is also used to add an acidic or sour taste to foods and drinks.
Wikipedia Formula: C6H8O7
Molar Mass: 192.124 g/mol
Melting Point: 153C
Density: 1.66 g/cm3
Boiling point: 175C
Soluble in: Water
Why is it controversial?
In my "mixology world" it is controversial, as citric acid is the stuff, which makes the nightmarish sour mix [preferably in powder form] sour. Yeah - citric acid is the main ingredient in one of the most controversial [and in the modern craft bartending wor…

The Best Alcohol-free Drink - Ipanema

Usually I call them [out of laziness] mocktails - but really I never liked this denomination.
As "mocktails" are usually long drinks, it is even twice wrong, to connect them to a cocktail [which is technically a short drink with alcohol]. 
Apart of this, I am not a big believer in mocktails. Sodas can be fantastic [home made grapefruit soda is fantastic, or homemade ginger ale, ginger beer or any other odd ingredient sodas]. Juices - fine. Lemonades - yes, refreshing and good. And iced teas - can be absolutely amazing. Hence you don't need sickly sweet syrupy juice mixtures.
But yes - there are few good ones.
Most of them a mimicking drinks with alcohol. You can make a pretty good alcohol-free Planters Punch, Hurricane or Mojito, if you are using Caribbean Syrup. Or you can use a juniper syrup for some alcohol-free gin drinks.
A drink which I got to know long time ago, very early in my career, is a bit a different beast [well - you cannot call an alcohol-free drink a bea…

Is Jack Daniel's a Bourbon Whiskey?

So Jack Daniels want to make us believe, that it is not a bourbon - but it meets all standards of a bourbon - only it is better?!

Half of it is true: Jack Daniels meets all qualification points for a bourbon. And yes it is true, that they add one more step - the charcoal mellowing. However this doesn't make it not a bourbon.

Well - point is, that the question is not really adequate. The answers to the rather vague question: "Is Jack Daniels a Bourbon?" is driven by semantics and interpretations.

What you could ask is: Can Jack Daniels rightly be called bourbon?
And the answer is: yes, it can. It meets all points to be even a Straight Bourbon [however please note the differentiation to Kentucky Straight Bourbon - as this is again a regional denomination, which Jack Daniels obviously doesn't meet].
The video is explaining exactly the laws. Before Jack Daniels also stated very proud, that they are sour mash. This was a bit... misleading, as most American Straight Whisk…