I’m always in the mood for a good recipe shootout/taste test, and Friday night seems like a great time for Painkillers.
I like a Painkiller from time to time, and Mrs. Mai Tai enjoys them frequently along with other coconut-forward cocktails. We both love the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum at Trader Sam’s which is basically a Painkiller.
Most recipes I’ve seen call for 4 oz of Pineapple Juice, but neither of us thought it should be that much forward with the Pineapple Juice, so we didn’t attempt that one. Instead, I made three variants with different ratios of Pineapple and Orange Juice.
All Painkillers feature the following: 1½ oz Hamilton 86 Demerara Rum 1 oz Lemon Hart 1804 Demerara Rum 1 oz Coconut Creme (Coco Real)
Version 1: left 3 oz Pineapple Juice 1 oz Orange Juice Notice the froth on top
Version 2: center 1½ oz Pineapple Juice 1½ oz Orange Juice
Version 3: right 1 oz Pineapple Juice 2 oz Orange Juice
Verdict: I was quite sure I wouldn’t like the first version with the most Pineapple Juice but it actually was my favorite. Meanwhile, Mrs. Mai Tai preferred the version with a higher amount of Orange Juice. So, I guess I’ll have both recipes on hand.
Ultimate Painkiller 1½ oz Hamilton 86 Demerara Rum 1 oz Lemon Hart 1804 Demerara Rum 1 oz Coconut Creme (Coco Real) 3 oz Pineapple Juice 1 oz Orange Juice
Mrs Mai Tai’s Painkiller 1½ oz Hamilton 86 Demerara Rum 1 oz Lemon Hart 1804 Demerara Rum 1 oz Coconut Creme (Coco Real) 1 oz Pineapple Juice 2 oz Orange Juice
Had some extra Grapefruit juice so I decided to see if replacing the Lime juice in a Mai Tai would make a difference.
1 oz Grapefruit Juice ½ oz Orgeat (Latitude 29) ¼ oz Demerara Syrup (BG Reynolds) ½ oz Orange Curacao (Clement Creole Shrubb) ½ oz Wray & Nephew Overproof ¼ oz White Martinique Rhum 2 oz Spanish-style rum blend
The crazy mix of rums is because I’ve been pouring a lot of rums from Spanish-speaking countries into an “infinity bottle” after sampling them for the Forbidden Island rum list. You know the types of rum – solera aged, added sugar, column still mostly. Not really my favorite style of rum, so I’ve been putting them in a bottle and using them as generic lightly-aged column still rum (which means, my friends, that I’m still actually drink all 100 of those rums). Additionally, I did also recently add a bit of very grassy Martinique rhum to the infinity bottle. It actually gave this rum a bit of needed kick. The Wray Overproof was added specifically for this cocktail to just amp things up a bit.
Overall, this isn’t bad at all. You can definitely taste a lack of the brightness that Lime juice normally provides, and I’m sure I’d pick correctly in a blind taste test. But it doesn’t taste bad.
The Pipeline is a new limited time cocktail this week at Trader Vic’s Emeryville . Mrs. Mai Tai and I were planning to visit Vic’s after her COVID shot on Friday but couldn’t make it since the lines were so long. So, I got some to-go cocktails from Vic’s today and enjoyed the cool but sunny and clear Bay Area weather on the drive up to Emeryville.
I joked with Julie that the “meal” option for Trader Vic’s would be their utterly decadent peanut butter spread and crackers, but that’s exactly what I did. Three orders of peanut butter and crackers is more than a meal for some and gave us enough food to order Trader Vic’s cocktails. (note: I dearly miss the Aloha Bowl that was a staple during the initial take-out period and if anyone is listening at Vic’s – please bring it back!). The peanut butter spread at Trader Vic’s so maybe our favorite thing there – besides Mai Tais.
Pipeline is made with Overproof and Spiced Rums, Pineapple Juice, Citrus, and a bit of Blue Curacao and is the signature cocktail at the Abu Dhabi Trader Vic’s. The initial taste was unexpected and a little bit of a funny taste. Definitely not made for craft cocktail connoisseurs. But second and third hit? Well, I definitely enjoyed it. I also (surprise!) had a Mai Tai that was plenty good. Mrs. Mai Tai had the Banana Batida which hits the coconut and banana notes that she loves. I tasted this and it’s great.
Finally made it over to Santa Cruz’s newest tiki bar and restaurant. Mrs. Mai Tai and I took a drive and ended up in Santa Cruz. Makai is on the wharf and in addition to online orders has two dining modes in person. We chose the take-out window and the very well-spaced picnic tables nearby. Ordering is efficient and the staff member working the window was very nice, but all alcohol is only canned/bottled. So, no Makai cocktails are available.
I had the Spam Musubi and it was truly fantastic. Freshly grilled and topped with sauce, this was the best I’ve ever had. I also enjoyed the Ahi Sliders which were also very good. Julie said her Corn Chowder was very good also. I’ve heard that cocktails are not the strong-suit at this restaurant, but the food most certainly seems to be a strength.
Makai is also currently offering table service for outside seating in their covered parklet out front and also around back in the sun. I was told the full menu is available from this mode, including cocktails. It is a bummer that cocktails aren’t available from the to-go window, but we did lessen our seating time and personal interaction with this mode and so that was the right decision for us right now.
We’re looking forward to returning when infection rates go down.
This is a very tasty Mai Tai riff from Nathan Robinson (@maitaioneon) who is constantly posting interesting recipes. This one uses Blood Orange Juice, timely since they are in season. Give it a try if you have the ingredients.
MIA CRAVATTA 1 oz Light rum 1 oz Rhum agricole blanc .5 oz Campari .5 oz Orgeat 1 oz Blood orange juice .5 oz Lime juice Shake with ice. Recipe by Nathan Robinson, based on Alex Sansone
I didn’t have Campari so I used Aperol instead (which is fine since I like it sweeter anyway). For the rums I used Denizen 3 and Clement Premiere Canne.
We have Blood Oranges so I made two cocktails that featured this deep red juice. These were tonight’s Valentine’s Day cocktails, along with Pan-Asian take-out from a place Mrs. Mai Tai recommended.
First is a Painkiller, using Blood Orange Juice in place. I guess this is maybe more purple but it still seems like a nice way to increase the visual interest.
The second cocktail is a Mai Tai variant published by Brian Maxwell on the Shaker with Spirits blog call the Mai Bloody Valentine. It’s a very good Mai Tai riff that looks great and tasted just as good.
Mai Bloody Valentine by Brian Maxwell 1 oz Aged Jamaican Rum (Appleton 8) 1 oz Aged Multi Island Rum (Denizen 8) ½ oz Orgeat ½ oz Ginger Syrup ¾ oz Lime Juice 1 oz Blood Orange Juice 1 dash Angostura Bitters Shake with Crushed ice.
There was a debate online this week about how to label a cocktail made with Rum, Lime, and Sugar. Could it be called a “Daiquiri” even if it wasn’t made with the Cuban Rum that it was originally conceived with?
There is no question the classic Daiquiri is made with lighter rums in the style common in Cuba. But in most restaurants and bars you’d be lucky to get a Daiquiri served up rather than on the rocks or blended, so being picky about the specific country of origin for the rum seems like maybe not the most important detail. I think that there are plenty of “white” rums that are unaged or lightly aged that are fabulous in a Daiquiri.
But I also think that aged rums can also be lovely in this cocktail. This extra large one was made with Chairman’s Reserve and Appleton Estate Reserve 8 rums, both of which are a blend of column and pot still distillates and both with more age than the typical “iight” rum. It is delicious and still light enough to feel too heavy.
What do you call this? There isn’t really a label, except “Daiquiri with Chairman’s Reserve and Appleton 8”. Or maybe just call it a Caribbean Daiquiri.
A much better cocktail and garnish than the same cocktail I tried making last week. This classic tropical cocktail is great if you have oranges but you really need to pair it with a bold rum. This time I used 2 ounces of the Hamilton Navy Strength 114 Proof rum, which is a mix of Demerara and Jamaican rums.
Sidewinder’s Fang 1½ oz Lime Juice 1½ oz Orange Juice 1½ oz Passion Fruit Syrup (Liquid Alchemist) 1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum 1 oz Demerara Rum 3 oz Club Soda Shake with ice, then float the club soda. Garnish with orange peel snake.
Someone on Facebook described my “Ultimate Mai Tai” recipe as being “assertive.” I totally took the comment in the way it was intended, which is to say that the Ultimate Mai Tai rum blend for sure isn’t for mellow drinking. This is rum-forward, and contains a large component of high-ester Jamaican rum. Bold and rich, intended to be savored.
So, in a way, “assertive” is actually quite the compliment.
Ultimate Mai Tai by Kevin Crossman 1 oz Lime Juice ½ oz Orgeat (Latitude 29) ¼ oz Demerara Syrup (BG Reynolds) ½ oz Orange Curacao (Ferrand Dry Curacao) ½ oz Appleton 12 Rum ½ oz Smith & Cross Rum ½ oz Plantation OFTD Rum ½ oz Plantation Xaymaca Rum
For those who find this rum blend too boozy and too heavy, there are thankfully so many great options. Appleton 12 just by itself is our recommendation for a single-rum Mai Tai, which provides a more approachable yet still quite satisfying rum-forward Mai Tai.
If you have a favorite rum, try it in a Mai Tai and let us know what how it worked. We’re always looking to try new rums in a Mai Tai.