I’ve been mostly on the wagon for the past two weeks after coming back from Bakersfield with a pretty bad flu. But felt well enough to try a few things tonight. The Blue Curacao was being used for a comparison test we’ll cover in the upcoming days.
But I had a little bit left over, so made myself a quick and dirty unmeasured cocktail. And you know it ain’t too shabby.
National Cocktail Day Cocktail 2 glugs of Giffard Blue Curacao 2 glugs of Probitas Rum 1 scant pour of Lemon Juice 2 Dashes Orange Bitters Stir with ice
The orange bitters actually did improve this a little and there’s nothing wrong with a half-half pour of my favorite Blue Curacao and my favorite “white” rum.
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”
There were some discussions of this cocktail online this week and so I took at run at it. I tweaked the original recipe by lowering the Green Chartreuse a little and definitely going for a heavy pour of John D. Taylor Falernnum that is not as bold as the Falernum syrup used in the original version of the cocktail.
¾ oz Lime Juice ¾ oz John D. Taylor Falernum (heavy pour) ½ oz Green Chartreuse 1 oz Wray & Nephew Overproof Jamaica Rum Shake with ice cubes and strain
This was just right for me. Enough of the Chartreuse to taste, but not enough to overwhelm. But it works very nicely with the bold Wray & Nephew rum.
A little remix that I gave half a thought to and tried. I subbed half the simple syrup for Ogreat in a Planters Punch to … okay results. It tasted like a Planters Punch, and the funky Jamaican rums at 45-46% ABV gave this a nice punch. But it needs something else or maybe different proportions to be excellent.
1 oz Lime Juice
½ oz Simple Syrup
½ oz Orgeat (Latitude 29)
1½ oz Hampden Estate Single Jamaican Rum
1½ oz Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
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.
The highlight of my lunch at Hula Hoops was the Buz-Tai, a Mai Tai variant developed by local raconteur Buz Deadwax. This boozy cocktail has developed a cult following due to the name, the potent nature of the drink, and Buz’s reputation as a cocktail connoisseur.
I’m not sure that Hula Hoops is making it exactly to the original specs, notably omitting the mint called for as a garnish, but also using the 151 float to served flaming. I can’t say that Hula Hoops is doing it wrong because any cocktail served flaming is a fan favorite.
I noticed that Hula Hoops prepares this with Real McCoy 5 and 3 from Barbados, which to me are upgrades from the original light and Spanish style rums called for. As described by Buz in his original recipe, the 151 rum float will eventually topple and “recharge” the cocktail. I do enjoy the new flavor combination that comes when the burnt sugar flavors of this style of Demerara rum is incorporated into the cocktail when you’re about halfway done.
Hula Hoops uses Small Hand Foods Orgeat, which regular readers will know is not my favorite. But when used in combination with the other ingredients I didn’t get any of the flavors I usually associate with this orgeat, and in fact the cocktail’s balanced flavors of sour, sweet, and spice completely worked for me.
Shockingly, I liked this more than the Mai Tai at Smuggler’s Cove the week before and even better than the Ultimate Mai Tai at Tiki Tom’s. It was just that good, at least on this day at that time. We thank bartender Maria for making an awesome Buz Tai. Check it out next time you’re at Hula Hoops.
Buz-Tai by Buz Deadwax ¾ oz Fresh Lime Juice 1 oz High-quality Orgeat ¼ oz to ⅓ oz Allspice Dram (to taste) 1 oz Dry Curaçao 1 oz Blended Jamaican Rum (Appleton Signature) 1 oz Light rum 1 oz Aged Column Still Rum (“Spanish style”) Shake with crushed ice and pour into double-rocks glass. Garnish with mint sprig. Pour ½ oz 151 Demerara Rum into spent lime shell and place on top of the cocktail.
This cocktail was recently featured on the Cocktail College podcast and so I thought I’d make one at home. An interesting aspect of this cocktail is that it called for an Aged Martinique Rhum, and I’ve heard specifically that this should be a sugar cane juice-based Agricole Rhum, not a Grand Arôme from Molasses. But the guest on Cocktail College seemed to not dial this in and even suggested an unaged Agricole might be better.
Having made the cocktail I can say that an aged Agricole for sure works better to compliment the spicy notes from the Falernum and Allspice Dram. The cocktail I made turned out really great and only served to remind me that I ought to order this more when out at bars.
Three Dots and a Dash by Don the Beachcomber ½ oz Lime Juice ½ oz Orange Juice ½ oz Honey Mix ¼ oz Falernum ¼ oz Allspice Dram / Pimento Liqueur ½ oz Demerara Rum 1½ oz Aged Martinique Rhum 1 dash Angostura Bitters Flash blend with 6 oz crushed ice. Garnish with three cherries (dots) and a pineapple front (dash).
Spirts: Falernum: John D. Taylor (heavy pour) Allspice Dram: Hamilton Demerara Rum: Skipper Rum Aged Martinique Rhum: Clement VSOP
This Chris Day cocktail is still on the menu at The Kon-Tiki and Mrs. Mai Tai considered it during our visit on Thursday. She went in a different direction but for Friday’s end-of-the-week cocktail I figured this would hit the spot.
Donnie’s Element by Chris Day ½ oz Coffee Liqueur (Mr. Black) ½ oz Banana Liqueur (Giffard Banane du Bresil) 1½ oz Coconut Creme 1½ oz Spiced Rum 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters Whip shake and pour over crushed or pebble ice. Garnish with Grated Cinnamon
We previously covered Donnie’s Element and it still holds up. So creamy and layered, and a good use a spiced rum if you have some (we combined two half-filled bottles of Captain Morgan and Sailor Jerry). I also tried this with Appleton Signature and the cocktail with the spiced rum simply tasted better.
Did a little exploring through some classic cocktail recipes from Faith Hingey‘s book Classic Cocktails Done Welllast night. After trying a Gold Rush (always a favorite) and a Sazerac (just okay) I finished with the Champs-Élysées. Unfortunately the Green Chartreuse seemed a little overpowering, so that I couldn’t even really taste the Cognac.
Champs-Élysées ½ oz Lemon Juice ¼ oz Simple Syrup ½ oz Green Chartreuse 2 oz Cognac 1 dash Angostura Bitters Stir with ice and strain
I was so lucky to find this 375 ml bottle of Chartreuse before it became allocated and impossible to find.
Among the spirits distilled from sugar cane juice, I generally prefer the Clairins from Haiti. They contain vegetal notes similar to Rhum Agricole from Martinique but they often lean towards olive or brine notes and not grassy notes. Clairins are batch / pot distilled and have a heavy body.
I’ve been a staunch proponent of the Saint Benevolence Rum Clairin for several years, which is an unaged expression at 50 ABV that’s full bodied and delicious. But for the Mai Tai tonight I decided to use Saint Benevolence’s expression aged “for a minimum of one year” and pair it in equal parts with a standout aged Haitian rhum, Barbancourt Réserve Spéciale 8. Barbancourt is a rhum from sugar cane juice but distilled in a column still, so it’s considerably lighter than clairins typicaly are.
Barbancourt is Haiti’s most recognizable distillery and brand, and is widely available in major liquor stores, Total Wine, etc. Whereas Saint Benevolence is an American brand that imports the spirits. The aged expression isn’t as commonly available but you can still pick it up at places like Bitters & Bottles.
Using aged rums brings this cocktail closer to the Mai Tai’s aged rum origin, and boy do these two rums pair well together. The heavy body of the Saint Benevolence is a perfect match for the Barbancourt’s oaky notes. One of the best Mai Tais I’ve made at home in a while.
The Mai Tai is a standard 1944 recipe using these ingredients.
1 oz Lime Juice ½ oz Orgeat (Latitude 29) ¼ oz Demerara Syrup (Liber & Co.) ½ oz Orange Curacao (Clement Creole Shrubb) 1 oz Rhum Barbancourt Réserve Spéciale 8 1 oz Saint Benevolence Rum Clairin Aged in New American Oak Shake with crushed ice