Recipe: Cherry Pie Tai

This Mai Tai riff from Nathan Robinson was a delicious twist on an old favorite. It’s especially nice if you’re looking for something else to use with Cherry Heering liqueur. I love the combination of blended Demerara rum and a bit of Rhum Agricole from Martinique. Delicious, give it a try.

My only gripe is the name. Shouldn’t it be “Cherry Pai Tai”?

Cherry Pie Tai by Nathan Robinson
¾ oz Lemon Juice
½ oz Orgeat
¾ oz Cherry Heering liqueur
1½ oz Demerara Rum (pref Hamilton 86)
½ oz Rhum Agricole Blanc (pref JM Rhum Blanc)
Shake with nice and garnish with a cherry

The Sinking Ship Room is Bakersfield’s Amazing Basement Tiki Bar

Mrs Mai Tai and I were excited to visit The Sinking Ship Room again, the basement sister venue from the folks behind Tiki-Ko. Access is through a separate door on the street and you cannot pass from bar to bar without going outside. The hours currently are more limited for The Sinking Ship, which is a larger and more elaborately themed space than Tiki-Ko upstairs.

After our visit to Tiki-Ko earlier, we arrived at The Sinking Ship right at opening at 7 pm on a Saturday and quickly got our drinks. I ordered the standard-issue Mai Tai that was really great with a blend of Jamaican and Martinique rums and some pleasant nutty flavors from the orgeat. The mood music was in full effect and allowed us to admire all the nick nacks, tikis, and nautical decor inside. There’s a mix of tables and lounge tables, with a large booth available by reservation.

Mai Tai with Rhum J.M Terrior Volcanique

I was feeling like I wanted to try another cocktail and scanned the shelves to see if there was an interesting rum to have in a Mai Tai. I spotted a bottle of Rhum J.M Terrior Volcanique and thought this aged agricole rhum might do well. Terrior Volcanique is aged in barrels with a double char process that results in a smoky and spicy rum. I haven’t loved this rhum neat in a glass but it was absolutely fantastic in a Mai Tai even at only 43% ABV. Like really, really amazing. Easily the best so far this year and a lock for placement on the year-end Top 10 list.

The Sinking Ship Room is an amazing space that every tikiphile needs to support and visit. The outstanding and immersive decor pairs so well with the Tiki-Ko crew’s unpretentious and friendly service orientation.

Mai Tai Presentation for Three Rum Club

Had a great time yesterday for a private seminar for the Three Rum Club, a group of home tiki bar bar owners who are affiliated with Tiki Tom’s in Walnut Creek. The Three Rum Club crowd was a great audience, asked good questions, and even laughed at the punchlines.

The presentation was Appreciating Rum Through the Lens of the Mai Tai, a rum-focused seminar on how the rums in the Mai Tai changed over the years. We covered the different rum styles used by Trader Vic’s over the years, when Rhum Agricole was first used, and how rum blends have been a key component in a Mai Tai for decades.

The welcome cocktail was a special Three Rum Mai Tai that I put together and got to prepare behind the bar at Tiki Tom’s. The three rums included 1 oz of Worthy Park Estate 12 yr and ½ oz each of Worthy Park 109 and Kuleana Hawaiian Rum Agricole. The bold Jamaica rums combined well with the Hawaiian rum that imparts vegetal notes and was really delicious. We have to thank Darrin, Steffani, and the entire team at Tiki Tom’s for their assistance and always appreciated hospitality.

Thanks to Sherri for the logistical help and for the photos.

Christmas Suffering Bastard

Not the most traditional Christmas cocktail, but with the new green glaze I think the Suffering Bastard Mug is a perfect vessel. In order to prepare the cocktail we need to make some decisions about the ingredients.

The Trader Vic’s Suffering Bastard is very different from Joe Scialom’s original from the World War II era, and is basically a larger and boozier Mai Tai.

This is the recipe from Trader Vic’s 1972 Bartenders Guide Revised and from 1974’s Rum Cookery and Drinkery. Noteworthy that it specifically calls for an aged Rhum Agriole. But what’s missing? The lime, for one.

Suffering Bastard (1970s)
3 oz Trader Vic’s Mai Mix
1 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum
2 oz Rhum St. James
Shake with ice and garnish with spent lime shell, mint, fruit stick, and cucumber

The same books list the Mai Tai as using 2 oz each of Mai Tai Mix and Trader Vic’s Mai Tai rum, so we must assume the lime is incorporated into the Mai Tai mix. As for the blend of Orange Curacao and Orgeat, I thought I’d try the ratio used for the 1958 Mai Tai from the Trader Vic’s in Havana, 12 parts Curacao to 7 parts Orgeat, and make 2 oz of this mix to go with the 1 oz of lime. I don’t have any Rhum St. James but substituted Clement VSOP Rhum that’s also from Martinique. Plus Trader Vic’s Light Rum from Puerto Rico.

Christmas Suffering Bastard
1 oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Orgeat (Latitude 29)
1¼ oz Orange Curacao (Ferrand)
1 oz Trader Vic’s Light Rum
2 oz Rhum St. James (sub Clement)
Shake with ice and garnish with spent lime shell, mint, fruit stick, and cucumber (if you have one)

This was very satisfying. You certainly get a bit of that aged and grassy taste from the Clement, but it is balanced well by the subtle sweetness of the Mai Tai mix blend. The use of the light rum softens the edges of the Martinique rhum and keep this as the boozy cocktail it was meant to be.

Mele Kalikimaka

Jammyland: Best Mai Tai in Las Vegas?

We’d been told by numerous people that the the best Mai Tai in Vegas is at Jammyland, a craft cocktail bar and restaurant located in the Arts District and featuring a Jamaica/Reggae theme. We finally made time to check it out on our trip, visiting at opening on Saturday.

We didn’t do food, apart from the delightful Fat Boy ice cream sandwich dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut flakes. It’s really good. Music was a very bass heavy set of mostly reggae leaning songs. Pretty loud inside, not really to my taste. There’s a large patio outside that’s not shaded but I’m sure is a blast after dark.

The Mai Tai here is pretty good, a 50/50 blend of Appleton 12 Jamaica Rum and Clement VSOP. I normally like this combo, though Jammyland’s struck me as too heavy on grassy Rhum Agricole notes (though your mileage might vary). Orgeat is house-made. I was told some premium Mai Tais may make an appearance in the future, and for sure would be worth seeking out.

The craft cocktail menu is pretty large and nicely varied. I also tried the refreshing Anaconda Punch featuring Appleton Signature Jamaica rum, Drake’s Spiced Rum, fresh pineapple and lime, mango/hibiscus syrup, and Ango. I liked this light and subtle cocktail that leans more into the mango than hibiscus. Mrs. Mai Tai had the Hocus Pocus with Tequila, watermelon and lime, rosé cordial, and lavender bitters that we both felt was really great.

Anaconda Punch

There is a large spirits collection at Jammyland, though direct sunlight is a concern of mine. The service here was quite friendly and efficient. There are a few art pieces and some fine mural work outside, but the rest of the inside is “warehouse aesthetic” in a mostly good way. Not really transportive, but fits in very well with the eclectic Arts District neighborhood. Check out Jammyland on your next Vegas visit.

Martinique Mai Tai at Pagan Idol

Pagan Idol was a quick stop on our way to dinner, so we just shared a Mai Tai. Unlike the version at sister bar Zombie Village, this flavorful Mai Tai leaned into the Martinique rhum as the most forward flavor. Thus, more of those grassy notes that this style of rhum is famous for. Not my personal preference but it might be right for you and in either case it is nice to see each place doing their thing.

One thing that’s a lot better at Pagan Idol is that back bar is visible and you can scan the myriad bottles of rum. And what did my little eye spy? Not one, but two (!) bottles of the famed Foursquare 2004 Exceptional Cask Series rum. This is one of my all-time favorite rums and in my opinion the best of all the ECS releases. If you sometimes find Barbados rum to be mild or timid you won’t feel that way anymore after tasting the rich buttery notes in Foursquare 2004. Very rare to find on shelves in bars, so head on down to Pagan Idol to give it a try.

National Daiquiri Day at The Kon-Tiki

I’m doing Kon-Tiki’s Rum Expedition list of 100 rums again, and decided to Daiq it up last night for National Daiquiri Day.

I tried three rums in this format, all light/clear and I believe all unaged.

Copalli White – this pot/column blend from Belize is made from sugar cane juice but is very approachable. Not as much character in this one compared to the other two, but it is very serviceable in this format.

Père Labat Blanc 59 – a high proof rhum had more oomph and the traditional Martinique grassy notes were somewhat tempered in this format. I liked this, not just for the 59% ABV but because of the terroir of the island of origin.

KōHana Hawaiian Agricole Rum KEA – by far by favorite from this list. I absolutely love Kea for the savory qualities, even at only 40% ABV. Not grassy like the Martinique, instead this flavor bomb had a really lovely and long finish in the daiquiri.