April 30, 2009

"Anyone who says I didn't create the Mai Tai is a dirty rotten stinker."

Thus sayeth Victor "Trader Vic" Bergeron. The Mai Tai is a classic, though sadly, much mistreated drink. The first problem with it was the base rum that Vic favored, a seventeen year old J. Wray and Nephew Jamaican, saw it's worldwide supply exhausted within a year of the 1944 debut of this drink. Then it saw it's orgeat switched from an imported brand to an easier to procure one. After that, it's seen one modification after another. Hell, even I modified it tonight (but I only try to change you because I love you, alcohol), and in the great scheme of things, my change isn't too egregious of one. So here's tonight's version of the drink!
Mai Tai

2 oz Pyrat XO rum
1/2 oz orange curacao
1/2 oz orgeat syrup
1/2 oz lime juice
1/4 oz Wray and Nephew White Overproof rum
1/8 oz simple syrup

Shake all ingredients well with tons of crushed ice and pour into your favorite Tiki mug (if you don't have a favorite Tiki mug, you really should get one. If you're pressed for time, though, you can use a Collins glass)
The name of this drink comes from the exclamation, in Tahitian, of the first people to taste Vic's concoction, Ham and Carrie Guld. On Carrie's first sip, she exclaimed (according to Trader Vic lore) "It's mai tai! It's mai tai roa áe!" She explained that it means "out of this world! The best!" And lo, the name stuck. And it should...it's a damned good drink. The original didn't use the overproof rum, and instead of simple syrup used 1/8 oz of "rock candy syrup" which is just simple syrup with some vanilla extract added to the mix. I opted to use the Wray and Nephew overproof to add a vanilla note, plus a little extra booze...the Pyrat is good, but it can underwhelm a bit in some mixes (though it's awesome to drink straight with a little lime). Contrast this to the Mai Tai served at your local TGI McTchotchke's GoodTime FoodDrinkery and you'll find there's a world of difference: the difference between expedience and craft. This little tipple, if consumed in the dog days of summer, just around sunset after a fun-filled day of yardwork, may just be the thing that saves your sanity and sends you, if only for a few minutes, "out of this world."
Mai Tai


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