Mai Tai

Mai Tai and Tropical Flowers - original watercolor by The Cocktail Artist
We couldn't let summer slip by without having a Tiki cocktail. Tiki cocktails typically contain quite a few ingredients - often masking the taste of the alcohol. Not only does this make a cocktail a bit dangerous, but it's not really suited to our preference. We like to taste the liquor in our drinks - which is what keeps us from drinking more than we should. Tiki cocktails typically contain rum (often several different rums in the same drink), and the long list of ingredients gives you plenty of room to experiment with flavors and ratios.

We decided to do a variation of the classic Tiki cocktail - the Mai Tai, which is named for the Tahitian word for "good". We have a good bottle of Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum, and some Denros overproof white rum, and that’s where we started. As it says right there in it's name, Denros Strong Rum is strong (80 proof). So even though we've kept the total amount of alcohol in this cocktail to 2 1/2 ounces it does pack a bit of a punch. Lime juice and orgeat syrup are also part of a classic Mai Tai. Even thought we typically make our own syrups, we took a short cut and used pre-made orgeat syrup. There is a good recipe in the New York Times if you want to give it a try, but we figured there was enough else going on in this drink that we would be fine with the BG Reynolds Small Batch Orgeat Syrup that was available at our local liquor store.

Our recipe includes a bit of fresh orange juice, something we also do with our Whiskey Sour. We also used a bit of True grenadine. This is NOT the sticky sweet pink stuff you find in the grocery store - it's somewhat tart and made from pomegranate juice. To add a bit of spice we put a few dashes of Creole bitters in our Mai Tai - bringing the list of ingredients to eight items (not including garnish). This may sound like a bit much, but the end result was worth it. There is a rich layer of flavor in this cocktail, it's not overly sweet, and the alcohol comes through. 

Another part of the fun with Tiki cocktails is the garnish. We used what we had on hand - mint sprigs,  lime wedges and orange twists. Edible flowers make a beautiful garnish, but we didn't have anything edible in our garden. We did have some New Guinea impatiens (not edible) that we used as a tropical garnish on the coaster. 

So here's our Mai Tai. It's technically Caribbean (not Polynesian), since we're using rums from Jamaica and St. Lucia, and our artwork was done in St. Barthelemy.  We're not going to be sticklers about geography here, we're just going to sit on the patio, enjoy a cocktail, and ignore the big mess we just made in the kitchen!


Mai Tai

1 ounce Appleton Estate Reserve Jamaican rum
1 ounce Denros Strong Overproof light rum
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce orgeat syrup
1/2 ounce True grenadine
2 dashes of Creole bitters

Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake well and strain into a Collins or Tiki glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig, and orange twist and/or and edible orchid.

St. Barth Beach Scene - original watercolor by the Cocktail Artist

Beach Cabanas - original pencil sketch with watercolor by the Cocktail Artist

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