Whisky Rye Tai

Darcy O'Neil :: February 12, 2007 8:43 PM

Mixology MondayHave you ever sat around and wondered what things taste like if you substitute one ingredient? I do all the time, and most low end bartenders substitute stuff without thinking, like that Mai Tai you had made with banana liqueur and pineapple juice. But I’m talking about a calculated attempt at a substitution that would still make a good cocktail, but be contrary to the original drink. Jimmy, over at Jimmy’s Cocktail Hour who came up with the whisk(e)y topic for this Mixology Monday, gave me an opportunity to try subbing in a whisky for a tropical drink.  So what does a classic Mai Tai taste like when you take the rum out and substitute a 10 year old 100% rye whisky?

If you’ve been following along at The Art of Drink you will know that I’ve recently been tasting my way through my growing rum collection. In the middle of winter it seems like a reasonable way to pass the time. But when you spend a week or so looking at rum, you feel like making a tropical or tiki drink. So, when it came time for Mixology Monday I thought that I could just substitute some whisky for rum in a classic Mai Tai and see what happens.

First, I had to decide what whisky to use. Well, since I have lots of Canadian whisky, that narrowed it down a bit. Then I decided that using rye would be a good choice since it seems to be all the rage at the moment. That left me with three choices, all from Alberta Distillers. The first choice was Alberta Premium (5 Year) rye whisky, which is a good whisky, but too light in flavour for this mixology experiment. Second was the Alberta Premium 25 Year Old edition, which is an absolutely amazing whisky, but probably way to smooth for this drink. That left me with a bottle of Tangle Ridge, which is a 10 year old whisky that is aged in a double casked process, so it should provide lots of flavour for this “Rye Tai”.

For the rest of the drink I used my standard restaurant recipe, which is a 2oz drink. I have rules to follow at work, so I just stay within them. The recipes is as follows:

Rye TaiRye Tai

1½ oz Tangle Ridge Rye
½ oz Cointreau
½ oz Orgeat
½ oz Lime Juice (Fresh)

Combine all ingredients into a shaker. Shake and strain into rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Using a Canadian rye whisky makes this drink very smooth, but it still has that subtle rye bite. It’s not the same as the tongue fire that rum can produce, especially the higher proof stuff, but this is still a good drink. Maybe a little too smooth. The lime plays nicely, as does the orgeat and Cointreau, everything seems to fit and if you served one of these to somebody who never had a real Mai Tai, they would find this drink very drinkable. This drink is a lot like a gentle whisky sour with some added depth of flavour and without the foam and viscosity of the egg white. The flavour that stands out the most is the orgeat. Overall a good drink if you want to switch things up a bit.

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