This rum recipe comes from Greg Easter and the book Advanced Mixology: A New Apporach. Easter’s family knew Trader Vic Bergerson personally and Easter claims to have sampled a bottle of the famed original Mai Tai rum, albeit a “doctored” version. Easter says that Vic would add a small amount of “Nastoyka,” an infused liqueur, to his rum bottles to give them a special flavor. Easter includes a Mai Tai recipe using this rum that he claims was close to the original.
Producing some Nastoyka for the rum blend always felt like a PITA to me, so we thank Brenda Gadow for being a mensch and doing the work to infuse rum with raisins, hibiscus, vanilla tea, and star anise. And then to combine that Nastroyka with five rums and one liqueur.
The Wray Copy is a very flavorful rum when sampled neat, quite reminiscent of the long finish and dark fruit flavors of Appleton 17 Legend (itself an attempt to recreate the original Wray & Nephew rum). At about 50% ABV, it is boozier than the original Wray but very close to Legend.
We tried this rum in our standard Mai Tai recipe, using 1 oz of lime juice ¼ oz of Demerara Syrup. To emulate the Giffard orgeat Easter calls for we used a split of Latitude 29 and Liber Orgeat. It wasn’t a bad Mai Tai but certainly felt too sweet, and the rum definitely got lost in the blend.
There’s a Mai Tai recipe in the book that varies from the standard proportions so we tried that. This goes heavier on the orange liqueur, less on lime, and no sugar besides the orgeat. This version was considerably better, and it turned out to be quite a nice Mai Tai. Not like the incredible ones made with Legend 17, but quite formidable nonetheless.
For an additional perspective, check out the Mixing Up Tiki video: Mai Tai Showdown Featuring Appleton Estate 17, Wray & Nephew 17 Clone, and Denizen Merchant Reserve