Mai Tai


One of the hallmarks of Tiki culture in the 50’s and 60’s was the cocktail done polynesian style and of those none was so famous as the Mai Tai.  The name is a corruption of the tahitian word Maita’i which means really good and from the couple of these I’ve made so far the name is well earned.

A search of the net revealed no less than eleven versions of this drink.  This is not surprising, once you get more than three ingredients into a beverage there is going to be a lot of flex in the production.  One night someone runs out of lime juice and all of a sudden you have to scramble for something similar, bam new formula.


My own recipe comes partly from necessity and partly from laziness.

1 oz white rum (for this run I used baccardi)
1.5 oz blue Curacao
0.5 oz Orgeat Syrup
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Spiced Rum (Captain Morgan)

Shake everything but the spiced rum in a shaker over ice and strain into a glass.  Float the Spiced rum on top, garnish with maraschino cherry.

Most of the original formulas call for orange Curacao but blue is the same product with a flashier color.  Orgeat (pronounced or-ZHA) is an almond syrup with some other things like orange flower water in it.

What the various versions of this drink have in common is Rum and sweetness.  The few with the closest claim to the original use two kinds of rum and the effect here is certainly worthwhile.  It has inspired me to find a dark un-spiced rum as well as to finally pick up that bottle of Demerara rum I’ve been pondering.

In sweetness the variations waffle back and forth.  Orgeat isn’t a common kitchen ingredient and unless you’re running a coffee cart or tiki bar it’s the kind of syrup that just hangs around because you don’t use it for non-tiki related cocktails that often.  If you can’t find Orgeat look for Torani Almond.  I have it on good authority that they’re the same thing, they just changed the label because they got tired of people asking what Orgeat was.  Many of the other formulas call for simple syrup, rock candy syrup, amaretto or even Falernum.  I haven’t had a chance to try Falernum yet but it’s showed up in a half dozen things I’ve been reading lately so it’s worth the time to hunt some down.  What they all have in common is sweetness and a cherry/almond flavor which is the hallmark of the tiki in this case.

What many of the other variations have in common is citrus.  Lime juice is a given, that’s going to cut your alcohol taste and let the rum flavors shine.  Some people cut down on the syrups and change out for grapefruit and lemon juice.  The dirty way to get around a lot of that is sweet and sour mix, which is really just lemon, lime and simple syrup.

In that same citrus category is the Curacao.  Variations calling for cointreau, triple sec and even orange rum are all known but the intent is the same.  There needs to be the essence of orange peel in the mix and one of these is the way to get that.  Curacao and Triple sec are essentially the same animal.  The peel of the bitter lahara orange steeped in some kind of alcohol and distilled.  With Curacao it’s a brandy base for triple sec it’s usually a neutral spirit.

My standard drink of choice at unknown bars right now is the kamikazi.  There’s really very little to screw up and you can always count on vodka and triple-sec.  I’m beginning to wonder if I haven’t been cheating myself by not going with a rum and triple-sec concoction instead.

If I had this drink to do over I for sure would use better rum.  I think my next version will use cointreau instead of curacao since I have some left and it’s a better product than the cheap curacao I can find locally.  Also I want to get my hands on some real maraschino cherries.  I’ll tell you why in another post.

AM Drinking: Business Time

If you’re ever having one of those mornings where you stayed up way too late, slept way too little and still have to get up and do things that aren’t “work” or operating heavy and dangerous machinery you know the wonders of not having drunk enough the night before.

I create this category for the people who are perpetually at 5 o’clock and see no issue with the thought of making a lovely drink before the sun has rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

business time

This morning we showcase a lovely little beverage that rolls up a number of morning flavors.  It isn’t much to look at, but it helps to get through the sunday doldrums when it’s not warm enough for mojitos but not cold enough for hot cider.

6 oz Milk (2%)
4 oz Coole Swan (irish cream)
1.5 oz Below Deck Coffee Rum
1 oz 360 Double Chocolate Vodka
1 oz Bols Creme de Cacao

I used a good sized Working Glass Tumbler for this one as there was no way my old fashioned was going to hold this much and it would make my collins look a bit weak.  These things will get a full post at some point as a quick and dirty shaker but that’s for another day.

The alcohol presented here isn’t strong enough to curdle the milk so you don’t get the chewy nasty sensation you might otherwise.  This is a strong drink for taking long lovely pulls on over eggs and toast.  I’m not a coffee drinker so the double chocolate and Cacao are pulling double duty tamping down the very very strong coffee flavors from the below deck.  The rum is my favorite base for anything, with brandy a close second, and here you have both caffeine and alcohol in one shot which is really the best of both worlds.

This lives in the same category as the buttery nipple, the white russian and many other cream or milk based drinks.  Entirely opposite of the fruit based drinks one normally sees, this is not a sipping beverage and carries very little in the way of subtlety.  Just watch out because the Coole swan sneaks up on you.

Mudder’s Milk: Part the First

180px-Jaynes_hatA little background about the series of posts I’m going to be doing on this topic.  While this is a drink creation it isn’t the kind of thing one might normally find in a bar or even in a restaurant I’m hoping it will eventually be something unique and tasty.

For starters those who don’t know what Mudder’s Milk references need to go out and buy a copy of the firefly box set.  The show is 10 years old, only had half a season and it still blows the doors off of most stuff on TV today.

The crew lands on a moon where the primary export is mud used to make ceramics and most of the inhabitants are indentured servants, basically slaves.  The bar in the worker village serves a (presumably) disgusting “beer” called Mudder’s Milk.  As Jayne describes it “All the protein, vitamins and carbs of your grandma’s best turkey dinner, plus fifteen percent alcohol.”

They go on to describe it as liquid bread used to keep the workers healthy and knock them out to prevent revolt.

I had the good fortune to meet a woman who spent time with one of the local pirate groups.  There are apparently several, and similar to the SCA they do a bit of period recreation and more than a bit of camping, hanging out and drinking.  She served as both ships cook and alchemist, meaning that she made up the menus and bought all of the alcohol for their little crew.  We traded ideas back and forth about mixed drinks, alcohol quality, camping equipment and ease of transport.  After a few drinks and quite a bit of conversation the question became if anyone had developed a drinkable version of Mudder’s Milk or if someone had made a cocktail of the same name.

Casual research didn’t turn up much:
Item 1 was an attempt to do justice to the quote mechanically, but a combination of cider, Guinness, milk, rye and vodka not to mention the whey powder and multi-vitamins was beyond gross sounding.

Item 2 Similar idea but easier execution.  Still, soy milk and brewers yeast are not in my list of best drink ingredients.  Nor is the combination of soy and grain alcohol really much of a crowd pleaser.

Item 3 Actually comes from a reference to the same drink as an item in World of Warcarft.  I was more pleased with the results here but it’s really just a white Russian with milk and bailey’s.   Nothing original here.

Item 4 Is actually a site for home brewers giving options for making your own beer.  I’m not much of a beer drinker, or any kind of brewer so I can’t say much about these except that the highest one caps out just above 10% ABV which isn’t anything like the 15% claimed in the show.

So lacking anything unique, tasty, complete or appropriate it behooved me as a budding bartender to correct this mistake and make something both good to drink and in keeping with as much of the quote as I felt necessary.