This is an Irish Whiskey variant of the Eastern Sour. Like the Mai Tai recipe variants we discussed a couple weeks ago, Trader Vic’s created the Sour template and then substitutes different types of spirits to give the cocktail a new name, often related to a new Trader Vic’s location.
Eastern Sour: Bourbon
London Sour: Scotch
Munich Sour: German Brandy (sometimes Cognac)
Toronto Sour: Canadian Whisky
Tokyo Sour: Japanese Whisky? Recipes are unclear.
Jalisco Sour: Tequila
Dublin Sour Recipe from Trader Vic’s (2023) 2 oz. Irish Whiskey Squeeze ¼ Fresh cut Lemon Squeeze ¼ Fresh cut Orange (save spent shells) 1 oz. Lemon Juice 1 oz. Orange Juice Dash (¼ oz) Orgeat Dash Rock Candy Syrup Shake with cracked ice and pour in your new St. Patrick’s Day Glass and top with spent shells for garnish.
Sharp-eyed readers will note this recipe differs from the classic recipe from the 1972 Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide. That book called for the “juice of half an orange and half a lemon.” That basically means 2½ oz of orange juice and just about 1½ oz of lemon juice. Trader Vic’s says they use the smaller amount because an entire half orange and half lemon are too large for the glass.
Using Jameson, the whiskey is really lost in this cocktail, even with just the 1½ oz of OJ I squeezed from my small-ish orange. Bolder spirits such as Scotch or Bourbon are a better match for all that juice, and I also recommend upping the Orgeat to ½ oz.
In any case, raise a Dublin Sour on Saint Patrick’s Day and toast: “A good friend is like a four leaf clover, hard to find and lucky to have”
I’d been thinking of doing a comparison test anyway, but was inspired by this week’s episode of the Tiki with Ray show on YouTube featuring the topic of “My Favorite Mai Tai” and a discussion of Menehune Juice.
Menehune Juice is a Mai Tai variant developed by Trader Vic’s in the early 1970s and is essentially a replacement of the aged Jamaican-forward rum with a Light Puerto Rican Rum. Other variants from this time period include the Pinky Gonzales (sub Tequila) and Honi Honi (sub Bourbon). The Menehune craze of the 1960s allowed Vic to put the Menehune Juice on the menu and you even got to take one home with you.
For this test, I compared the 1944 Mai Tai, Trader Vic’s Mai Tai, and Menehune Juice as they are prepared by Trader Vic’s restaurants today. Notably, the latter two use Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Concentrate as a substitute for the Orgeat, Rock Candy, and Orange Curacao. That Concentrate is used in Trader Vic’s restaurants and is occasionally sold off the Trader Vic’s website (I bought mine as part of the Trader’s Treasures membership). For the 1944 I’m using the present day recipe that calls for ¾ oz of Orange Curacao (I used DeKuyper).
I was surprised how much I liked the Menehune Juice, which I found light and refreshing but still “rummy” in a good way. I do enjoy the Mai Tais made with the Concentrate. But, no surprise that my personal preference was for the more complex body and taste of the 1944. Mrs. Mai Tai said she preferred the Trader Vic’s Mai Tai and then the Menehune Juice, so it seems true that there’s a cocktail for everyone at Trader Vic’s.
1944 Mai Tai (Trader Vic’s present day) ¾ oz Lime Juice ¼ oz Rock Candy Syrup ½ oz Orgeat ¾ oz Orange Curacao 2 oz Trader Vic’s Royal Amber Rum Shake with crushed ice and pour into Mai Tai glass Squeeze ¼ of a lime, then garnish with spent lime shell and mint sprig
Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Typically labeled “Our signature Mai Tai has been modified to perfection” on menus. ½ oz Lemon Juice ¾ oz Mai Tai Concentrate 2 oz Trader Vic’s Royal Amber Rum Shake with crushed ice and pour into Mai Tai glass Squeeze ¼ of a lime, then garnish with spent lime shell, fruit stick, and mint sprig
Menehune Juice Same as Trader Vic’s Mai Tai but sub 2 oz Trader Vic’s Light Rum in place of the Royal Amber.
I used Trader Vic’s products throughout, except subbed Latitude 29 orgeat and Liber Demerara for the Rock Candy in the 1944 recipe.
John’s Grill is one of our go-to places in the City, located downtown where we usually park and also because we like the atmosphere and food and cocktails. We totally enjoyed our dinner on Saturday. The place was pretty full but we were able to easily get a reservation earlier that same day.
There aren’t 63 cocktails on their menu but we did enjoy the Gimlet and the Cosmo.
There’s no doubt that Faith Hingey‘s Instagram account @barfaith introduced me to a number of cocktail concepts and recipes when I started to deep dive into cocktails, but her posts the last couple years have been less frequent. Well, it turns out Faith has been working on a book. Classic Cocktails Done Well: Tried-and-True Recipes for the Home Bartender is out now with a modestly priced hardcover format, as well as an eBook version.
I really appreciate the layout of the book into spirits-focused sections, starting with Gin and then Whiskey, Brandy, Rum, and Other Spirits. Faith includes recipe adjustments and other tips for many of the recipes, so this is more than just a list of recipes and photos. There’s also an excellent index in the back, breaking down the cocktails into use cases by occasion (brunch, date night). And a crisp section up front with commentary about spirits and other ingredients, equipment, and techniques. Where other cocktails books can be quite prescriptive about equipment such as shakers, you’ll find no judgment here. The focus is on the home bartender.
The commentary and suggestions are truly helpful, and include key tips and helpful reminders about these classic cocktails. The selection of classic cocktails seems to be pretty good in my estimation, though I don’t consider myself an expert. Pictured is the Junior cocktail with Rye, Lime, Benedictine, and Bitters. Boozy but delicious.
But, there is an elephant in the room that we’d be remiss in addressing here at UMT HQ. This is a book of classic cocktails and for the rum section it is hard to argue that the Mai Tai doesn’t belong along with the Daiquiri and Mojito as an all-time favorite. But the Mai Tai isn’t included in the book because of the exclusion of cocktails with “specialty ingredients that may be less accessible or versatile for regular use across a wide variety of drinks,” meaning orgeat I presume.
I think the criteria is reasonable and orgeat is most certainly not an everyday kitchen ingredient. That said, I find it hard to believe the average home cocktail hobbyist would find orgeat harder to find than some included liqueurs and spirts such as Benedictine and Yellow Chartreuse. But, we do acknowledge that orgeat isn’t really in any other (non-tropical) classic aside from the Japanese Cocktail. Maybe we can hope for a sequel focusing on tropical cocktails, a category that I know Faith is particularly fond of.
If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer for the next budding home bartender, Classic Cocktails Done Well is made to order and perfectly balanced.
Some shots of the interview with Otto Von Stroheim on the Tiki with Ray show, filmed live at Forbidden Island. The interview is now live on Ray’s YouTube channel, and is a breezy history of Otto’s role in our community and some stories about Tiki News, Tiki Oasis, and more. Ray is a good interviewer, and Otto knows how to be a good interviewee. Check it out.
It’s really great that Forbidden Island can host these kind of events, alongside the usual regular Tuesday night Ohana gathering shenanigans.
Recorded July 1, 2022 at Tiki Kon, we’ve combined the professionally recorded audio with the slides so that you can experience it at home. There are a couple bonus slides during the Q&A.
Everyone is familiar with the iconic Hawaiian Mai Tai that features pineapple juice and a dark rum float. This version of the Mai Tai is quite different from the original 1944 Mai Tai created at Trader Vic’s. When did the Mai Tai in Hawaii become the “Hawaiian Mai Tai?” It wasn’t in 1953 when Trader Vic brought the Mai Tai to Hawaii and is later than you might think. Learn more about this iconic cocktail and how it evolved over the years based on contemporaneous reports and published recipes.
The iconic Mai Tai at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki was introduced by Trader Vic Bergeron in 1953. During the 1950s the reputation for this cocktail built such a following that it was described as the “top tourist tantalizer” in 1959. But the Mai Tai you get today at the Royal Hawaiian differs considerably, since it uses the Pineapple Juice and Orange Juice commonly seen in Island-style Mai Tais.
1956 Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai
The earliest known recipe for the Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai comes via a letter written to a customer by Trader Vic himself. This is still substantially similar to the original 1944 recipe, though with different proportion of sweeteners and notably using both a Dark Jamaican rum and also a light rum. It is light and refreshing and a good dark Jamaican rum does punch through in this recipe. Try Worthy Park 109.
1956 Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai Juice of One Lime Dash of Rock Candy Syrup Dash of Curacao Dash of Orgeat 1½ ounces Trader Vic’s Puerto Rican Rum ¾ ounce Myers’s Plantation Punch Rum Stir and decorate with fresh mint
1972 Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai – Classic Recipe
The use of Pineapple Juice became common in Mai Tais in Hawaii starting in the 1960s, but The Royal Hawaiian seems to be a late convert. There’s a published recipe from their sister hotel The Moana Surfrider in 1968 that’s substantially similar to the 1956 version. However, there must have been pressure to include Pineapple Juice from many tourists.
This recipe comes from Drinks of Hawaii, 2nd Ed. 1972, by Paul B. Dick. The entry describes this is “now being used by the Sheraton” implying a recent change. The recipe included in the book did not specify an exact amount of Pineapple or Orange Juice except to say that they should be used in equal parts. The recipe is notable in that it describes using 3 ounces of rum, including two flavorful dark rums. But a rum float is not specified.
This recipe was later used in many books by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, who designated 1 oz each for the Pineapple and Orange Juice. This seems like the correct choice, keeping the balance with the other ingredients.
1972 Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai ½ oz Lime Juice ¼ oz Lemon Juice 1 oz Orange Juice 1 oz unsweetened Pineapple Juice ¼ oz Sugar Syrup ¼ oz Orgeat ¼ oz Orange Curacao 1 oz Demerara Rum 1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum 1 oz Light Rum
2010s Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai: Headscratcher
This devolved “secret recipe” was published on the Royal Hawaiian’s website, and includes some curious ingredients. The use of almond-flavored Amaretto liqueur in place of Orgeat syrup is sadly not uncommon in Mai Tais. Amaretto is fine elsewhere but doesn’t add the right flavors or body to the cocktail like Orgeat does. The use of Cherry Vanilla Puree, even in a small amount, is also a noteworthy head-scratcher.
2010s Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai Build in shaker with ice: 1 oz Bacardi Rum 1 tsp Cherry Vanilla Puree ½ oz Amaretto di Saronno ½ oz Cointreau 1 oz Fresh Govinda Orange Juice 2 oz Fresh Govinda Pineapple Juice ½ oz Whaler’s Dark Rum Float
2022 Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai Returns to Normalcy
In mid-2022, the Royal Hawaiian updated their website to include this updated “secret recipe” and thankfully it’s much more of a standard Island Mai Tai. It is nice to see Orgeat coming back, though I don’t find Old Lahaina rum to be particularly good. Nonetheless, I did very much enjoy the cocktail in June 2022 when I sat looking out at Diamond Head.
2022 Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai 2 oz Pineapple Juice 1 oz Orange Juice ½ oz Orgeat ½ oz Orange Curacao 1 oz Old Lahaina Light Rum 1 oz Old Lahaina Dark Rum (float) Shake all ingredients except the Dark Rum with ice. Pour in a large “bucket” glass. Float the Dark Rum, garnish with a parasol with cherry, pineapple and lime wedge.
Such a fun day in Emeryville yesterday at Trader Vic’s. Lines for cocktails and food were very well managed and plenty of outdoor seating.
My seminar on the Hawaiian Mai Tai went pretty well. A great turnout even in room doing cocktails and rum tasting and (after the door to the outside was closed) which was a little warm. Thanks to those who attended, for being engaged, and laughing at my jokes. The meme got a big laugh. Slides are available here on the site.
I was pleased to be a judge for the cocktail competition. Some great cocktail entries. Congrats to Marisa Miller for winning, and be sure to check out her Kunia Cooler cocktail during September at Vic’s.
So much going on. Wish there was time to socialize with more people but it was nice to see so many familiar faces. Thanks to @westcoastmseve for getting me onto the program.
And now for the actual Mai Tai Day on Tuesday Aug 30th. Cheers!