Tia Mia

Skipper Nate at Trader Sam’s suggested this, and after two fabulous Mai Tais how could I say no?

The Tia Mia is basically a Mai Tai where 1 oz of rum is replaced by Mezcal. This agave spirit hasn’t been my favorite (I’ve only recently warmed to Tequila), since its signature “smoky” taste isn’t really my thing. Certainly in this format, where the Mezcal is tempered by some Jamaican rum and the sweeteners, it is more palatable. But I probably wouldn’t choose this normally, since with ratio the Mezcal was still very much up front.

Spicy/smoky is not really my thing, but if you like Mezcal then give the Tia Mia a try.

French 75: Gin or Cognac?

There was an online discussion started recently by Maxton Kennedy, current bar manager at Forbidden Island and previously from The Kon-Tiki in Oakland and Tiki Tolteca in New Orleans. Notably, Maxton also previously had a stint at the French 75 Bar in NOLA.

Maxton’s premise was that many are making the French 75 incorrectly, since most published recipes use Gin rather than the French spirit, Cognac. It does seem like if the cocktail is a French origin, then the pair of Cognac and Champagne would make sense. 

This idea intrigued me and so without getting into the politics we made these side by side. I also did a poll on my Instagram stories, which split 60/40 in favor of Gin.

French 75
½ oz Lemon Juice
½ oz Simple Syrup
1 oz Gin or Cognac
Top with 1 oz Champagne

I tried both and to me the Gin version with Beefeater Gin tasted better than the one with Ferrand Cognac. Perhaps different spirits in each category would have given a different result, but among these two the floral notes from the Gin seemed to work better with the Champagne.

Though, honestly, straight Champagne tasted better than either.

Hot Mai Tai

Inspired by the Hot Mai Tai recipe developed years ago by Giuseppe González, this is something that I tried and liked more than I expected. The lack of Lime juice places additional focus on the Orgeat and Orange Curacao, and for this cocktail the ratio below seems to be optimal.

The whipped topping calls for the addition of Macadamia Nut Liqueur, though Amaretto isn’t a bad option. How much to add will be your choice, but I did at least half an ounce of liqueur to go into a ¼ cup of cream.

Some recipes of this type call for the use of an Irish Coffee glass, but I thought this iconic two-faced glass goblet would be more appropriate. This means that the volume of liquid is higher than in some recipes you might find.

Hot Mai Tai
⅔ oz Orgeat
1 oz Orange Curacao
2 oz Aged Jamaican Rum (Appleton Reserve)
Dry shake and then pour into glass mug. Top with hot water.
Top with whipped cream with Macadamia Nut Liqueur
Add a few drops of Orange Bitters on top of the cream

Recipe: Molasses Mai Tai

I made some fresh Molasses Syrup to replace the one that was in the back of my fridge for a couple years. I enjoy a few cocktails that use this ingredient, most notably the Pampanito cocktail at Smuggler’s Cove (the recipe is in the book, too). Molasses adds a certain bite to the cocktail that seems appropriate during winter.

I am lazy when it comes to making syrups but this one is pretty easy.

Molasses Syrup:
2 cups Granulated Sugar
2 Tbsp. Mild Molasses
1 cup Hot Water
Combine all ingredients and stir until sugar is fully dissolved. Let cool, then bottle.

The Molasses Mai Tai was a riff I tried a couple years ago that I figured would be great, and it turned out better than I expected. This is inspired by the Pampanito, which originally used the same Appleton Reserve 8 rum called for here.

Molasses Mai Tai by Kevin Crossman
1 oz Lime Juice
½ oz Orgeat
¼ oz Molasses Syrup
½ oz Orange Curacao
2 oz Aged Jamaican Rum (Appleton Reserve 8)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with crushed ice. Shake and dump into double rocks glass and garnish with Mint Sprig and reserved Lime shell.

House without a Key Mai Tai

This was one of my favorites on our previous trips to O’ahu, and sometimes I like to make it at home.

The recipe is notable in the use of different proportions of the 1944 Mai Tai recipe template, but also the use of a dark rum float most commonly seen in Island-style Mai Tais.

House without a Key Mai Tai, Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki
1¼ oz Lime Juice
⅓ oz Orgeat
⅓ oz Rock Candy Syrup
⅓ oz Orange Curacao (Cointreau)
¾ oz Bacardi Select/Black Rum
¾ oz Bacardi Gold Rum
Float ½ oz Lemon Hart 151 Rum

Comparing the two photos, it definitely looked better on the beach in Waikiki than it did in my kitchen. But it tasted just fine at home.

Three Dots and a Dash (modified)

I decided to use some of this year’s most highly anticipated new rum releases and put them into a cocktail together. I love the Worthy Park 109, which is a Dark Jamaican rum that to me approaches the flavor profile of a Demerara rum. And the aged Clairin expression from Saint Benevolence is an amazing alternative for cocktails calling for an aged rum from Martinique. 

So, I chose a cocktail where the new rums would drop right in. The Three Dots and a Dash is a popular Don the Beachcomber cocktail, the recipe for which was unearthed a few years ago by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. Thanks, Bum!

Three Dots and a Dash (modified)
½ oz Lime Juice
½ oz Orange Juice
½ oz Honey Syrup
¼ oz Falernum
¼ oz Pimento Dram
1½ oz Saint Benevolence Aged Clairin
½ oz Worthy Park 109 Jamaica Rum
1 dash Angostura Bitters
6 oz Crushed Ice
Flash blend and garnish with three cherries (three dots) and a pineapple (and a dash)

Perfect Disco Banana at Home

Finally cracked it. After numerous attempts at making the beloved Disco Banana at home, I finally made one that compares at least a tiny bit to the cocktail made fresh at Zombie Village or The Kon-Tiki Room.

The secret?

I got a tip from the drink’s creator Jeanie Grant to freeze the crushed ice, and use more than you’d typically use due to the higher proof rum. And sure enough, the crushed ice that was left in the freezer was certainly dryer than ice directly from the ice crusher.

Disco Banana by Jeanie Grant
⅓ Banana
¾ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Cinnamon Syrup
¼ oz Demerara Syrup
¼ oz Creme de Banana
¾ oz Unaged Agricole Rhum
¾ oz Unaged Jamaican Overproof Rum
Blend with ice
Garnish with grated cinnamon and a banana chip

Happy Halloween: The Doctors Are In

Doctor Colada and Doctor Mai Tai attended a Halloween party and brought “shots” to heal all the “sick” people in attendance. Some very, very sick people. Thankfully, the shots seemed to be well received with no ill-effects.

Here’s the single-serving version of the batch that was used for the shots.

Blue Mai Tai
1 oz Lime Juice
½ oz Orgeat (“heavy pour”)
½ oz Blue Curacao
½ oz Rum Fire – White Overproof Jamaican Rum
1 oz Probitas – Aged White Rum

Golden Fez Shock the Monkey Lowball Glass

I purchased this very nice glass from our friends at House of Tabu. When you order you also get some additional goodies including a recipe card from Tiki Lindy, a pin, and a sticker. Very nice.

I don’t have a ton of these smaller “lowball” glasses, so this seemed like the opportune time to toe-dip into House of Tabu’s “Order of the Golden Fez” brand (or maybe it is a cult, I’m not sure). The glasses are still available, along with a pre-sale for the new issue of Exotica Moderne where I have an article about local favorites The Kon-Tiki in Oakland.

The Mai Tai was made with a freshly prepared bottle of Ultimate Mai Tai rum blend. That’s equal parts Appleton 12, Plantation Xaymaca, Smith & Cross, and Plantation OFTD. Rich, boozy, and delicious.

The orgeat comes from our buddy Tony Dunnigan who lives in San Jose. Tony’s homemade orgeat is pretty easy to make even if you’re lazy like I am. But I was happy to trade a couple rum samples for some of Tony’s orgeat. I noticed Tony has a couple Order of the Golden Fez mugs, so I guess he’s part of the secret society, too. Oops, maybe I have said too much.

Orgeat by Tony Dunnigan
2 cups Unsweetened Almond Milk
4 cups Granulated Sugar
Heat in saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolves
Add 1 “light” teaspoon of Orange Blossom Water
Add 2 tablespoons of Almond Extract
Add ⅓ Cup Cognac
Continue to stir, then bottle