Orgeat in 8 … the Mai Tai

by KeithP on April 8, 2010

So this is the official start of Orgeat in 8 and I decided to lead off the first two days with what I think are two classic drinks utilizing orgeat as a key ingredient – the Japanese Cocktail and the Mai Tai.

As noted previously in the intro to Orgeat in 8 the purpose of this little adventure has less to do with reinventing the wheel in terms of great historical insights (although where relevant we’ll chat about such things as they can often help to bring to light something fun about said drink) and more to do with me learning more about orgeat, continuing to advance my understanding of ingredient proportions and interaction amongst the various participants and sharing such little nuggets as might be useful.

With this in mind I couldn’t think of a better way to start out our exploration into orgeat then by highlighting one of the most recognizable tiki-style drinks… the Mai Tai. My main focus was on exploring what the different versions, permutations and creations of this recipe are versus theSpeakista weighing into the great Trader Vic vs. Don the Beachcomber debate.  For my purposes I tried to cast a wide net in terms finding these different versions of the recipe, scrapped any that looked like the garbage swill served to unsuspecting tourists who get off a cruise ship in the Islands, and then centered on more reputable sources.  In relation to what is considered to be the original Trader Vic recipe (at least I assume this to be the original recipe) shown below the majority of what I found were close approximations of this original, with a few interesting differences.  Matt (aka Rum Dood), Tiare at A Mountain of Crushed Ice and the Esquire Magazine drinks database all have (essentially) the same recipe with the main difference being the type(s) of rum used.  Darcy adds in a small amount of grenadine and a dark rum float (don’t tell Tiare about these additions) and the CocktailDB also adds in grenadine but includes falernum as well (again, don’t tell Tiare).  So a little blending is in order (no pun intended) … using essentially the Dood’s and Tiare’s general recipe but a slight tweak in the rum’s used as I do not have a Martinician Rhum (as of yet).

Oh yeah, the Trader Vic recipe below … we will see if we can’t revisit this one when we get to the Tiki-5 in a few weeks.

“Trader Vic’s” Original Mai Tai
Assumed Trader Vic’s Original Recipe

•    2 oz of 17-year old J. Wray & Nephew Rum
•    juice from one fresh lime
•    1/2 oz Holland DeKuyper Orange Curacao
•    1/4 oz Rock Candy Syrup
•    1/2 oz French Garnier Orgeat Syrup

The Mai Tai (Orgeat in 8 version)
Recipe adapted from Rum Dood and A Mountain of Crushed Ice

•    1 oz Jamaican rum (Appleton Extra)
•   1 oz dark rum (Cruzan Aged Rum)
•    3/4 oz fresh lime juice
•    1/2 oz orange curacao (Senior Orange Curacao)
•    1/2 oz orgeat (Trader Tiki brand)
•    1/4 oz simple syrup (rich 2:1 demerara sugar syrup)
Garnish: mint sprig and lime shell
Glass: rocks glass
Tools: mixing glass and tin (shaker), Hawthorn strainer and fine mesh tea strainer

Assembly: Combine all ingredients in the shaker, add ice, shake well for at least 30 seconds until well chilled and double strain into a serving glass fill with crushed ice.  Garnish with mint and lime shell.

The verdict: First thought … refreshing.  Second thought … beach, sun, surf … relaxing.  It is interesting when a drink can evoke thoughts beyond the ingredients, taste etc and this drink does so.  The aroma is high on the mint – ok maybe I packed a little too much in the garnish – followed by a nice mellow citrus smell.  The taste is most definitely relaxing, but more then that this drink once again highlights how a well crafted, well proportioned drink should taste. Balanced.  First to the taste buds is the nice mixture of aged, dark rums.  Together they highlight the vanilla and light sweetness that is a fine aged rum.  The orange curacao blends with the lime juice to form a nice supporting structure to the rum, not too citrusy and not too subtle.  The orgeat is subtle in the background … this ingredient, while the focus of our attention in this little project is truly a supporting character and not the lead actor.  There is slight faint taste of almonds that lingers for brief moment and gives way to sweetness. The natural sweetness of the orgeat seems to bring out more of the rum character.  Well worth the effort and solid start to the project.

I’ll be interested to see if the other drinks make orgeat more of a staring player or keep him in the background, content to highlight others in the mix.

theSpeakista’s Rating: 3 3/4 stars (out of 5)

Up next … the Japanese cocktail.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

DJ HawaiianShirt April 9, 2010 at 3:04 pm

I approve of your Mai Tai as a simple interpretation! Though I would think about applying Rhum Agricole next time… as most recipes call for. I totally understand about how a drink can invoke something… as for your description above, I find that this drink strangely does the same thing:

KeithP April 9, 2010 at 9:24 pm

agreed on the Rhum Agricole application — tried but simply didn’t have (should have had though). Sorta defaulted to the Esquire version (in part) which called for dark rum. my bad … a quick cheat i guess.

i like your link/post … will give it a try.

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Tiare April 10, 2010 at 5:42 pm

The Mai Tai looks nice! but i don`t have any Cruzan Aged Rum so i would use a demerara (of course)and then it would be one of “my Mai Tais” again..;-)

But no way i would add any grenadine! OR falernum..

I don`t think i`ve added you to my blogroll yet, so i`ll do that.



KeithP April 11, 2010 at 9:05 am

Thank you Tiare. I’m such a novice rum type, that despite having a pretty modest rum selection of 15 bottles, I can’t believe I don’t have a demerara to use (other then the Lemon Hart overproof and the El Dorado 3 year … but didn’t use the 3 yr in this mai tai as i wanted dark rums). One more thing to add to my growing list of spirits to get + i’m assuming this would make the collection a little more well rounded.

Going to make a run at doing 5 tiki drinks in 5 days (a very modest attempt at becoming Tiki-ised) in a week.

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Blake Stlaurent May 11, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I came across this site from Bing and found this entry quite delicious!

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olle September 19, 2010 at 12:49 pm

hello, hreat blog you have

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