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

Orgeat Works Comparison

Comparing:

  • Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 Formula Orgeat
  • Orgeat Works Macadamia Nut Syrup
  • Orgeat Works T’Orgeat Toasted Almond Syrup

Latitude 29 Orgeat has been my favorite commercial Orgeat for several years. It’s a high-quality product made with Water, Pure Cane sugar, Almonds, Orange Blossom Water, Almond essence, and Rose Water. It is fairly clear, easy to maintain and pour, and tastes wonderful. The floral elements pair well with the almond flavor.

Orgeat Works has a couple additional products and I’m always interested in trying some new Orgeat, so bought some bottles and did a comparison test.

Each Orgeat is made using the same high-quality ingredients, such as pure Cane Sugar and Orange Blossom Water. The Macadamia Nut Syrup uses Macadamia Nuts rather than Almonds, of course. Each comes in a 375 ml plastic bottle that will last for quite a while for home cocktail use.

Orgeat Works products are available online and select stores.

Cocktail Comparison

I made several cocktails with each of these Orgeat varieties and did comparison taste tests. For this comparison I made a couple different 1944 Mai Tai recipes, a Saturn, and a Blood Orange Eastern Sour. One Mai Tai was made with Denizen Merchant’s Reserve as the rum base, along with Ferrand Dry Curacao. The other Mai Tai was a lighter style using Probitas and Clement Premiere Canne rums, with Cointreau as the orange liqueur.

In each case I found the Latitude 29 Orgeat to be the best overall, tasting brighter in each cocktail and adding a rich mouthfeel. It worked very well across each of the cocktails, from the heavy juice-forward Eastern Sour to the lighter Gin-based Saturn.

But the T’Orgeat Toasted Orgeat was really great too. It has a pronounced toasted almond flavor that is unique and delightful. It is a rich taste that’s very different from many of the craft Orgeat brands that have a marzipan flavor, and I find T’Orgeat more suitable for most uses. T’Orgeat worked well across all cocktails but was best used in a Mai Tai where the Orgeat is a more central focus.

Orgeat Works Macadamia Nut Syrup has a more subtle flavor which doesn’t present itself as forward as the other two syrups.

3rd place: Orgeat Works Macadamia Nut Syrup
2nd place: Orgeat Works T’Orgeat Toasted Almond Syrup
1st place: Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 Formula Orgeat

Hamilton Rum: Beachbum Berry’s Zombie Blend

Not just for Zombies. It makes an excellent Mai Tai too!

This new rum blend is a 118 proof delight, so aromatic and flavorful. With this kind of ABV it isn’t a sipper for most people, but inside a Mai Tai it really punches through and coats your tongue. Of course, our house Mai Tai rum blend is over 100 proof, so we’re used to boozy Mai Tais. But we think anyone will find this rum to be amazing in a Mai Tai.

The Mai Tai is best prepared with Latitude 29 Orgeat from Orgeat Works, a house favorite of the Bum himself who helped develop it. It is our favorite orgeat.

Not a bad choice Mai Tai Monday.

The Zombie blend is rolling out now and is available in many states with more to come. Bottles are going fast but Ed Hamilton says this product is here to stay and that more is in the pipeline.

And, yes, it does make an excellent Zombie.

Unnamed Holiday Cocktail

Still working out the kinks on this one. I riffed on a recipe shared online but this was missing something. Going to keep trying with unsweetened cranberry juice next.

Holiday Cocktail
2 oz Cranberry cocktail
1 oz Orgeat
½ oz Vanilla Syrup
¼ oz Ginger Syrup
½ oz Pimento Dram
2 oz Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon
Spash Soda

Holiday Cocktail

Liber & Co. Orgeat

Orgeat month is ending with our last review, the craft brand Liber & Co.

This one came recommended by many Mai Tai fans. I’ve previously had and liked their Passion Fruit Syrup and Blood Orange Cordial, so I was really looking forward to this one. The milky Orgeat stays settled better than some craft Orgeat brands, and imparts a rich mouthfeel to the cocktail.

I made several cocktails with Liber’s Orgeat, including a Saturn and a standard recipe Mai Tai. I also made the Mai Tai according to the recipe on the label.

Liber Mai Tai
1 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
¾ oz Liber & Co. Orgeat
½ oz Orange Curacao
2 oz Rum
I used Ferrand Dry Curacao and Denizen Merchant’s Reserve.

I was surprised and still not sure why, but I liked the ¾ oz Orgeat Mai Tai better than in the standard 1944 Mai Tai recipe. While Liber leans a tad more into the marzipan direction than is my preference, I do think that Liber is a good Orgeat that I can recommend. The silky liquid does a good job standing up to the other ingredients and enhancing the cocktail.

Liber & Co Orgeat Tasting

Greg Brady and a big idol (signed by some guy named Barry Williams) helping me evaluate Liber & Co. Orgeat. Both were a gift from Mrs Mai Tai. Don’t steal it – that’s taboo!

No full review has come out of the Ultimate Mai Tai labs yet, where technicians are working feverishly on applying rigorous tests to another craft Orgeat. Stay tuned.

L’Orgeat

An interesting entrant to our Orgeat tastings this month is L’Orgeat, a shelf-stable almond liqueur. While Amaretto is often substituted for Orgeat syrup in Mai Tais and other cocktails, it isn’t a satisfactory substitute due to its high-ish ABV and a flavor profile that I think overpowers the orange, lime, and rum.

Enter L’Orgeat, an almond liqueur at 20% ABV that is designed to replace Orgeat syrup in cocktails. Their website recommends using ¾ oz of L’Orgeat along with 1 oz of Lime, 2 oz Jamaican Rum, and ¼ oz Curacao. I found this recipe to have an overpowering burnt chocolate taste, and it also wasn’t as sweet as I like it.

Much better was using L’Orgeat at ½ oz alongside the rest of the standard 1944 Mai Tai recipe ingredients. In this case, that nuttiness does add a hint of almonds and richness that can be missing when you use artificial Orgeat syrups like Torani. For those who like an Almond Milk lean in their Orgeat, however, this is pretty far afield from that. Still, I think many will enjoy the flavor profile of L’Orgeat.

Thanks to Sean Buckley for the L’Orgeat sample to try.

Trader Vic’s Orgeat

Orgeat month continues with an orgeat that’s been widely available for some time: Trader Vic’s Orgeat

The Trader Vic’s syrups have had sort of a bad reputation in the past few years amongst cocktail aficionados due to their use of Corn Syrup and preservatives, but this is widely available so I decided to give it a try at home. I purchased my 1 liter bottle for $9 at BevMo and the Trader Vic’s products are also available online.

In a Mai Tai made with Denizen Merchant’s Reserve Rum and Ferrand Dry Curacao, the Trader Vic’s Orgeat adds a hint of almond and little bit of silkiness to the mouthfeel. I am not sure it adds a lot of the cocktail but at least it doesn’t introduce any objectionable flavors to the cocktail or have any unpleasant aftertaste.

So, it budget is an issue I think the Trader Vic’s is a better option than comparable mainstream orgeat brands like Torani.

Orgeat Shootout

I’m always ready to give a new Orgeat a try. I’ve been on the record recommending the Latitude 29 Orgeat for some time, and in the past I’ve also liked BG Reynolds. This time I’m comparing Latitude 29 to the craft brand Liquid Alchemist and the mainstream brand Torani. The Mai Tais were made according to the 1944 recipe with Denizen Merchants Reserve rum.

Liquid Alchemist
I really liked their Coconut Syrup, so was eager to try the Orgeat. This has a very strong Almond Milk flavor, since that’s the primary ingredient. The Orgeat also contains Sugar, Sea Salt, Santham Gum, and Sunflower Leeithin. I used this in several cocktails and it seemed fine in some cocktails, but for me I don’t love the Almond Milk-forward flavor in the Mai Tai. So this was actually my least favorite of these three, though if you love Almond Milk your milage may vary.

Torani
This is a very mainstream syrup brand, often used for a sweetening coffee. Torani’s Almond/Orgeat Syrup contains Pure Cane Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, Acacia Gum, Ester Gum, and preservatives. It has a sweet almond flavor, and while it’s nice to not see Corn Syrup there’s also no real almond either. The Mai Tai had a nice sweet flavor but definitely a with an artificial aftertaste. I’ve had worse Orgeat before, and Torani is very inexpensive. But we think that spending more on a higher quality Orgeat is worth it.

Latitude 29 Formula Orgeat
Still the reigning champion. Contains Water, Pure Cane Sugar, Almonds, Orange Blossom Water, Rose Water, and Organic Almond Essence. It’s got a wonderful Almond-forward flavor that’s just the right level of sweetness, and my Mai Tai was perfect. You can order this from www.orgeatworks.com.

Congrats to Latitude 29 for their 6th year anniversary of doing business in New Orleans. Loved my visit there a couple years ago. I had a trip to NOLA scrapped this year, but I hope to return soon.