The Mai Tai Revisited

Darcy O'Neil :: April 28, 2006 7:09 PM

For some reason I had a craving for a Mai Tai. It's a great classic drink, but the flavour is dependant on one thing, good rum. The problem with rum is finding a quality one. I usually use Havana Club 7 Anos to make them, but today I used Appleton VX. It's funny how changing one ingredient can make such a big difference. By no means is the Appleton VX a bad rum, it's just not the same as the Havana Club. The Appleton VX has a more pronounced flavour that has an edge to it. One thing I can say about rum is that I've never been able to sip it straight, like scotch. The edge is always present, and I guess that's what makes rum, rum.

I used my favorite recipe for the Mai Tai, which is:

2 oz Amber Rum (in this case Appleton VX)
½ oz Cointreau (can't get orange curacao here)
½ oz Orgeat Syrup
Juice of ½ of a lime

Shake with ice and strain into glass filled with crushed ice.

I do like looking around for different recipes though. When I went to the Appleton website and checked out their recipe for a Mai Tai, I found this:

1½ oz. Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum
½ oz. Orange Curacao or Grand Marnier
Juice of One Fresh Orange
Juice of One Fresh Lime
½ Shot of Grenadine/Clear Syrup

Combine ingredients in a stemware glass with shaved ice and shake. Float a sprig of fresh mint and garnish with a slice of lime and orange.

Obviously this is designed for the modern palette. I'm not sure why over proof rum is used, that would be one hell of a drink! Orange Curacao is good, Grand Marnier is bad, it's too sweet. Cointreau would be a good substitute for curacao or triple sec. It has orange juice, which at least they recommend fresh squeezed, but has no place in a classic Mai Tai. The stemware glass comes out of nowhere, it should be a rocks glass or an old fashion glass.

Since it seems everyone makes their Mai Tai's differently, I think I'm going to play around with the base of this drink in the future, but name the new creations by another name. In a previous post I replaced the triple sec with a vanilla liqueur (Bols Vanilla) and that worked amazingly well. I'm thinking that using Limoncello might be interesting since it follows the citrus idea, it might be a bit sweet but I usually skip the rock candy syrup anyway. Tuaca might be another possible substitute.

The only other thing I might try is to replace the rum with whisky and see what happens. I'm thinking an Irish whiskey might work, or possibly a Canadian whisky. I want to avoid those heavy smoke flavours found in scotch or the strong flavours found in bourbon, but maybe bourbon might work. Only one way to find out!

Thanks to Rick over at Kaiser Penguin for rekindling my Mai Tai ideas.


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