Liber & Co Orgeat Tasting

Greg Brady and a big idol (signed by some guy named Barry Williams) helping me evaluate Liber & Co. Orgeat. Both were a gift from Mrs Mai Tai. Don’t steal it – that’s taboo!

No full review has come out of the Ultimate Mai Tai labs yet, where technicians are working feverishly on applying rigorous tests to another craft Orgeat. Stay tuned.

L’Orgeat

An interesting entrant to our Orgeat tastings this month is L’Orgeat, a shelf-stable almond liqueur. While Amaretto is often substituted for Orgeat syrup in Mai Tais and other cocktails, it isn’t a satisfactory substitute due to its high-ish ABV and a flavor profile that I think overpowers the orange, lime, and rum.

Enter L’Orgeat, an almond liqueur at 20% ABV that is designed to replace Orgeat syrup in cocktails. Their website recommends using ¾ oz of L’Orgeat along with 1 oz of Lime, 2 oz Jamaican Rum, and ¼ oz Curacao. I found this recipe to have an overpowering burnt chocolate taste, and it also wasn’t as sweet as I like it.

Much better was using L’Orgeat at ½ oz alongside the rest of the standard 1944 Mai Tai recipe ingredients. In this case, that nuttiness does add a hint of almonds and richness that can be missing when you use artificial Orgeat syrups like Torani. For those who like an Almond Milk lean in their Orgeat, however, this is pretty far afield from that. Still, I think many will enjoy the flavor profile of L’Orgeat.

Thanks to Sean Buckley for the L’Orgeat sample to try.

Trader Vic’s Orgeat

Orgeat month continues with an orgeat that’s been widely available for some time: Trader Vic’s Orgeat

The Trader Vic’s syrups have had sort of a bad reputation in the past few years amongst cocktail aficionados due to their use of Corn Syrup and preservatives, but this is widely available so I decided to give it a try at home. I purchased my 1 liter bottle for $9 at BevMo and the Trader Vic’s products are also available online.

In a Mai Tai made with Denizen Merchant’s Reserve Rum and Ferrand Dry Curacao, the Trader Vic’s Orgeat adds a hint of almond and little bit of silkiness to the mouthfeel. I am not sure it adds a lot of the cocktail but at least it doesn’t introduce any objectionable flavors to the cocktail or have any unpleasant aftertaste.

So, it budget is an issue I think the Trader Vic’s is a better option than comparable mainstream orgeat brands like Torani.

On the Rocks Cosmo and Old Fashioned

Mrs. Mai Tai and I enjoyed some On the Rocks “ready-to-drink” cocktails last weekend in Monterey. We sampled the Old Fashioned and the Jalapeño Pineapple Margarita, and enjoyed both. The Old Fashioned has Knob Creek Bourbon and is booooozy at 35% ABV. Luckily that night I was only having the 200 Ml size!

Tonight we sampled the Cosmopolitan, which Mrs. Mai Tai said was even better than the Margarita. I’m not normally a Cosmo drinker but it tastes very good and not artificial like most RTD cocktails.

The On the Rocks Mai Tai is my top recommended ready to drink Mai Tai, so it is nice to see that the quality is consistent through out the lineup.

Port Light

Finally getting around to trying this cocktail from the Grog Log and originally from the long, lost Kahiki in Ohio. It’s a slightly exotic Whiskey Sour, so quite pleasant but not very complex or daring.

1 oz Lemon Juice
½ oz Passion Fruit Syrup
¼ oz Grenadine
1½ oz Bourbon (Makers Mark)
Flash blend with 8 oz crushed ice

Syrups by BG Reynolds
Glassware by B-Rex

Coconut/Demerara Mai Tai

Just got finished watching the latest “Welcome to Rum” series on the Tiki with Ray YouTube channel. The latest episode covers rums for Mai Tais, including some tasting of rum neat and compared to the rum in a Mai Tai. Jason Craig went through a bunch of different rum options for Mai Tais, with some witty banter from Ray and guest Geneen.

A noteworthy rum blend that Jason came up with was a combination of Siesta Key Coconut rum and Plantation OFTD. Interestingly, the panel expressed that this displayed Vanilla notes, so I had to try it myself. They used 1½ oz Siesta Key Coconut and ½ oz OFTD in a 1944 Mai Tai. And you know what? It does express vanilla notes and is sweet and delicious. Give it a try.

Bacardi 8

On vacation and needed some booze. Second time picking up some aged Bacardi, this time going for the 8 year aged Bacardi Ocho.

I like the aged Bacardi. Light rum with some age on it isn’t bad at all.

Hula’s Island Grill, Monterey

Mrs Mai Tai and I had a great lunch at Hula’s Island Grill in their newly expanded back patio. We have enjoyed our visits to the Hula’s locations here in Monterey but also in Santa Cruz and at the Hula’s Modern in Phoenix and Scottsdale.

The back patio has a nice tropical vibe and I enjoyed my Trader Vic’s fish sandwich while Julie loved her Tofu Jungle Bowl. Service was very friendly and super efficient.

Cocktails at Hula’s can be hit or miss but I really enjoyed my Pele’s Punch (first picture). This normally comes with Firewater Bitters and since they are VERY spicy I asked for Angostura Bitters instead. It was a delicious punch with some great Blood Orange flavors. Mrs Mai Tai had her requisite Pink Bikini Martini and loved it as always.

Hulas has two cocktail sections and it is nice to see them trying to elevate the cocktails with their Premium Cocktails menu. For our second round Julie had the POG Punch, which she liked okay and which I thought was pretty good. More tart than sweet but overall quality was right up there. I also tried the Reverend Stiggins, a Mojito riff using the Plantation Fancy Stiggins Pineapple Rum. When I was here a couple years ago I thought there was too much mint. This time it was balanced quite well. The soda adds a lightness that made this cocktail super refreshing.



We had a great time at Hula’s.

This was tiki bar number 15 for me in 2020. Compare to 2018 when tiki bar 15 was April 21, and last year when tiki bar 15 was March 21. This year has really sucked for visiting tiki bars.

Home Bartender: Blue-Hawai-Tai

The Blue Hawaii and the Mai Tai had a baby, and it’s delicious.

Blue Hawai-Tai by Kevin Crossman
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz White Overproof Jamaican Rum (Rum-Bar Overproof)
½ oz Aged White Rum (Probitas)
½ oz Orgeat (Liquid Alchemist)
½ oz Simple Syrup
½ oz Blue Curacao (Giffard)

Orgeat Shootout

I’m always ready to give a new Orgeat a try. I’ve been on the record recommending the Latitude 29 Orgeat for some time, and in the past I’ve also liked BG Reynolds. This time I’m comparing Latitude 29 to the craft brand Liquid Alchemist and the mainstream brand Torani. The Mai Tais were made according to the 1944 recipe with Denizen Merchants Reserve rum.

Liquid Alchemist
I really liked their Coconut Syrup, so was eager to try the Orgeat. This has a very strong Almond Milk flavor, since that’s the primary ingredient. The Orgeat also contains Sugar, Sea Salt, Santham Gum, and Sunflower Leeithin. I used this in several cocktails and it seemed fine in some cocktails, but for me I don’t love the Almond Milk-forward flavor in the Mai Tai. So this was actually my least favorite of these three, though if you love Almond Milk your milage may vary.

Torani
This is a very mainstream syrup brand, often used for a sweetening coffee. Torani’s Almond/Orgeat Syrup contains Pure Cane Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, Acacia Gum, Ester Gum, and preservatives. It has a sweet almond flavor, and while it’s nice to not see Corn Syrup there’s also no real almond either. The Mai Tai had a nice sweet flavor but definitely a with an artificial aftertaste. I’ve had worse Orgeat before, and Torani is very inexpensive. But we think that spending more on a higher quality Orgeat is worth it.

Latitude 29 Formula Orgeat
Still the reigning champion. Contains Water, Pure Cane Sugar, Almonds, Orange Blossom Water, Rose Water, and Organic Almond Essence. It’s got a wonderful Almond-forward flavor that’s just the right level of sweetness, and my Mai Tai was perfect. You can order this from www.orgeatworks.com.

Congrats to Latitude 29 for their 6th year anniversary of doing business in New Orleans. Loved my visit there a couple years ago. I had a trip to NOLA scrapped this year, but I hope to return soon.