Originally published November 2020
Big News for Mai Tai fans: there’s a new Mai Tai Mix now available.
The product is Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 Wiki Wiki Mai Tai Mix and comes from the same folks behind our favorite Orgeat.
Press Release from Orgeat Works:
Very exciting news at Orgeat Works HQ! After two years of exhaustive formulation and collaboration with the Bum. We are proud to introduce Beach Bum Berry’s Latitude 29 Wiki Wiki Mai Tai Mix!!!! The mission brief: To imbue your run of the mill dry white rum with the qualities of the classic aged rums used in our beloved Mai Tai. Like the name says, Wiki means Quick!
2 oz. rum, ¾ oz. Wiki Wiki Mai Tai Mix and and ounce of fresh lime and you’re good to go!
We spoke with Orgeat Works founder Adam Kolesar about the product. The thing that every craft cocktail aficionado is likely to notice first is that this Mai Tai Mix doesn’t say “add your favorite aged rum” but instead specifies an unaged light rum. Kolesar gave us a breakdown of the product positioning.
“The reason for specifying an unremarkable “easily obtained” dry white rum was to reflect the primary mission of the Wiki Wiki aspect of the Mai Tai mix. The Bum and I thought it would be great to have a flavorful syrup that would imbue a pedestrian rum with the flavor profile of something more complex. An example might be coming home from work, thinking a Mai Tai would be a great soother, and discovering you’re out of Ferrand Dry Curacao or your favorite Martinique rhum.
The product certainly doesn’t purport to be the ultimate Mai Tai as everyone we know has a carefully curated spec. It is meant to be a quality hack when you’re short handed, on vacation (where you can typically find a dry white rum and a lime), or when you want a hassle free cocktail.
Another goal of the product is to allow folks to make a decent “Mock Tai” if that’s their groove.”
Orgeat Works provided a sample bottle for review purposes and so we gave the Mix a spin with Cruzan Light Rum. The mix does a good job imbuing the cocktail with bright orange notes that compliment the lime juice and make for a satisfying cocktail. Not as good as we’d make from scratch of course, but that’s besides the point. These guys know what a good Mai Tai is supposed to taste like, so the Wiki Wiki Mai Tai Mix does a good job getting you there even with light rum.
Kolesar closed by noting that “the end user is certainly free to experiment with more complex rums and strike a more elaborate balance. It was important to the Bum and I to build a product that would work decently with the likes of the ubiquitous Bacardi Light as our baseline.” The Wiki Wiki Mai Tai Mix is quite good for travel scenarios where you can bring this and get some lime and rum at your destination.
Experimentation and Tasting Notes
Orgeat Works provided a review sample of the Wiki Wiki Mai Tai mix, and we thought we shouldn’t have all the fun so I put out the word about providing some samples to others to try. Like Johnny Appleseed, I drove samples to Campbell, San Jose, Fremont, and San Mateo. Soon, Mai Tais were sprouting!
In addition, I made a bunch of Mai Tais with different rums. The results were a little surprising.
#4: Wiki Wiki Mai Tai with Cruzan Light Rum
This cocktail was the least satisfying. The light rum did not provide the requisite “heft” for a cocktail that is best experienced with a bold, heavy rum. Still, not bad.
#3: Wiki Wiki Mai Tai with Appleton 12 Rum
Shockingly, my favorite Mai Tai rum wasn’t nearly as good as I expected. Something about the flavor profile of the aged Jamaican rum just didn’t mesh with the mix.
#2: Wiki Wiki Mai Tai with Real McCoy 5 / Bacardi 4
Much better was this half/half blend of two medium aged rums, Real McCoy from Barbados and Bacardi from Puerto Rico. Just enough age and flavor from the rum to compliment the Mai Tai mix.
#1: Wiki Wiki Mai Tai with Trader Vic’s Royal Amber Rum
Royal Amber is the rum that Trader Vic’s uses in the restaurants to pair with their Mai Tai Concentrate, and the results were equally solid with the Latitude 29 mix. The rum is from Puerto Rico and lightly aged, but colored. So in a way it is not too far off from the product’s intended rum pairing. This one had a great mouthfeel and best overall flavor balance.
Feedback from the locals matched my own view: this is a quality mix but white rum is probably not the winning formula. Everyone did praise this as ending up with a good cocktail, though nothing close to scratch. But, as one of our reviewers noted it seems like this is a product designed for more casual cocktail drinkers and not hard care craft cocktail junkies.
Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 Wiki Wiki Mai Tai Mix is now available, and the product it most closely resembles is the Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Concentrate. Rarely available for sale at retail, the Mai Tai Concentrate has been available for a few months from the Trader Vic’s website as a result of new market opportunities in the time of COVID.
As with the Wiki Wiki mix, you bring Lime juice and Rum to the party, though Trader Vic’s does recommend 1 oz. of Gold Rum and 1 oz. of Dark Rum rather than light rum recommended by Latitude 29. The Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Concentrate has been in heavy use at Trader Vic’s restaurants for years, so it’s familiar to many customers.
There are three main points of comparison between the Trader Vic’s and Latitude 29 Mai Tai mixes.
Ingredients favor Latitude 29
The Latitude 29 Mai Tai Mix contains Water, Pure Cane Sugar, Almonds, Curacao Orange Peel, Carmel Sugar Syrup, Orange Blossom Water, Organic Almond Essence, and Rose Water. There are no preservatives.
The Trader Vic’s Concentrate contains High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Natural Flavor, Carmel Color, and Potassium Sorbate (a preservative).
Without question, Latitude 29 contains higher quality, more natural ingredients.
Price favors Trader Vic’s
The Mai Tai Concentrate is just $10 for 1 liter bottle, while the Latitude 29 is $18 for a smaller 375 ml bottle. Both Trader Vic’s and Orgeat Works are pricey on shipping.
Taste is Close
One of our local reviewers compared the two mixes with Real McCoy 3, a lightly aged Barbados Rum. They said that Trader Vic’s taste popped a bit more than the more subtle Latitude 29 flavor, so a slight edge to the Concentrate.
My own comparison test found that both products taste similar. There’s more of an orange flavor from Latitude 29, and more of an almond sweetness to Trader Vic’s. Basically a draw.
What’s the Market for the Wiki Wiki Mai Tai Mix?
One of our local reviewers expressed confusion over the market for the Wiki Wiki Mai Tai Mix, noting that if you were able to order it you’d be able to order some excellent Orgeat varieties from Orgeat Works — which would seem to render the idea of a Mai Tai Mix useless. This reviewer noted that the problem most “lazy” home bartenders have is obtaining and using Orgeat and Fresh Lime. On this point I tend to agree, though Orgeat Works’ Adam Kolesar noted that vacation scenarios might provide a suitable use for this product.
If you’re bringing Rum and fresh Lime to the party, it’s not too hard to get Orgeat and Orange Curacao. A Mai Tai Mix that can include the Lime component would be even more suitable to vacations and “lazy bartender” scenarios, but none of the “just add rum” Mai Tai mixes are particularly good.
Still, Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 Wiki Wiki Mai Tai Mix is a strong entrant into the market. We wish the distribution for the Orgeat Works products was more widely available, as we’ve enjoyed their Latitude 29 Falernum and Latitude 29 Orgeat in the past. Having the Latitude 29 Mai Tai Mix in beverage warehouse-style retail locations would present an opportunity for cocktail newbies to have a good experience making Mai Tais at home.
A review sample of Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 Wiki Wiki Mai Tai Mix was provided by Orgeat Works. Thanks to Julio, Alex, Sean, Brent, and Melissa for comments and contributions to this article.