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.

Blue Curacao: Giffard vs. Senior

So many thanks to local tikiphile Cathie Wartelle for donating some of her Senior Blue Curacao for another shootout comparison with our reigning champion Giffard Curacao Bleu.

Last week we compared Giffard to the much cheaper Drillaud, and so this week it’s a more even playing field since the Senior is priced similarly (or in many places even higher). Once again, we did this in our Blue Hawai-Tai cocktail – though this time I did switch up the rums. We have Rum-Bar White Overproof and Denizen Aged White Rum for standing in this week.

In the glass: I found the Giffard to be a deeper shade of blue, and heavier and more complex on the tongue. The Senior is pleasant but just lacks a bit of depth – though it is 31% ABV compared to 25% for the Giffard. 

In the cocktail: The Senior Blue Curacao mixes well in the cocktail, and for sure helps this cocktail go down easy. The sweetness of Senior is similar to the Giffard, but once again the Giffard just has a little extra complexity in the cocktail that is a notable difference.

The verdict: unlike last time, price differences aren’t a factor, so Giffard is still our winner. If you’re at a liquor store and you had to choose between some $7 low-end Blue Curacao and Senior, should you feel bad going upscale? Absolutely not. The Senior Blue Curacao is a good liqueur. But pound for pound, the Giffard is better in our opinion.

Blue Hawai-Tai by Kevin Crossman
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz White Overproof Jamaican Rum
½ oz Aged White Rum
½ oz Orgeat
½ oz Simple Syrup
½ oz Blue Curacao

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with crushed ice. 

Top 10 Mai Tais of 2019

This was my summary post for my Top 10 Mai Tais of 2019.

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I had a lot of great Mai Tais in 2019 and it was difficult to pick the top 10. I easily had dozens more worthy of inclusion. 10. Molasses Mai Tai at Fred & Ginger's Exotic Cocktail Bar and Lounge This is the only home tiki bar on the list. The Mai Tai was made with Molasses Syrup and the rum was Appleton Reserve. Rich and delicious. 9. 1944 Mai Tai with Appleton 12 at Trader Vic's Emeryville I like the scratch 1944 Mai Tai at Trader Vic's and it's even better when you sub a higher quality rum. Appleton 12 is my go-to single rum sub. 8. Mai Tai at Club 33 This was a good Mai Tai, but an amazing venue. It's not often you have a three Mai Tai lunch at a park where booze isn't served. 7. Mai Tai at Forbidden Island Made special by Brian Rechenmacher. It's always nice when the bartenders get to know your preferences. 6. Mai Tai at Lono A high-quality Mai Tai with Rhum JM, Appleton Signature, Smith & Cross, Coruba, and Lemon Hart 151. 5. Halekulani Mai Tai The best Mai Tai in Waikiki is a tweak to the 1944 recipe with more lime, orgeat, sugar, and Lemon Hart 151 as a float. A great Mai Tai with a simple twist. 4. Mai Tai with Appleton 12 at Skull & Crown Trading Company The S&C Mai Tai comes with rhum agricole and is very good. But this one made just with Appleton 12 was even better. My favorite Mai Tai in Hawaii. 3. National Mai Tai Day Mai Tai at Smuggler's Cove This special event featured Appleton/Wray rums, so this is 2 parts Appleton Reserve, 1 part Appleton 12, and 1 part Wray Overproof. 2. Mai Tai with Appleton 12 at Rhumba The standard Mai Tai comes with rhum from Martinique and was great, but by now you should know I preferred it just with Appleton 12. One of my top 3 Mai Tais of all time. 1. The Ultimate Mai Tai at The Kon-Tiki The Mai Tais at Kon-Tiki have gotten better over the year. But this one was the best, which isn't a surprise since it features my own rum blend: Appleton 12, Smith & Cross, Plantation Xaymaca, and Plantation OFTD. I can't thank the Kon-Tiki team enough for doing the special menu on the night I completed the rum list. This has been my best Mai Tai in a commercial bar, ever! Cheers to 2019!

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