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Go Back   Rum Lovers @ the Ministry of Rum > Cocktails and Food > Mixers, Water, Ice and Glasses
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Mixers, Water, Ice and Glasses

All of the ingredients in a cocktail contribute to the experience.

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Old 02-25-2012, 02:43 AM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio USA
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Default My Mai Tai

I'm just settling in for the evening and made a couple of Mai Tais, which is hands down my favorite cocktail. Nearly everyone has heard of the Mai Tai, but very few people have actually had one, and fewer still have ever had a real Mai Tai. I use the recipe that Jeff "Beachbum" Berry uncovered some years ago, which is based on "Trader" Vic Bergeron's own recipe, customized with my choice of rums and Curaçao:

1oz La Favorite Rhum Agricole Vieux
1oz Appleton Estate Reserve Jamaican Rum
.5oz Gran Gala Triple Orange Liqueur
.5oz Teisseire Orgeat Syrup
.75oz Fresh Lime Juice

Shake with crushed ice, pour into double old fashioned glass with the ice in the shaker. Top up with fresh crushed ice. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

The Gran Gala adds just the right orange note, and the brandy in the liqueur gives the cocktail just the right viscosity. It's interesting to note that the French brand of orgeat that Trader Vic originally used in Mai Tai in 1944, Garnier, contained brandy as an ingredient, so Gran Gala with it's brandy base is historically correct to use in the Mai Tai (as well as tasting fantastic) . Other orange liqueurs that I've tried in the Mai Tai don't work as well; I've found Grand Marnier to be too rich and too strongly flavored, and Senior Curaçao comes off as too bright and too thin in the Mai Tai. I won't even bother to mention the cheap stuff (DeKuyper, Bols et. al.). Marie Brizard makes two orange liqueurs that I suspect might work in this drink, but the brand is difficult to locate and is rather pricey too boot.

I've tried nearly every brand of orgeat on the market, as well as quite a few homemade ones. Tesseire is far and away the best that I've found for the Mai Tai as well as other Exotic Rum Drinks (aka, Tiki cocktails). It has all of the requisite flavors that good orgeat should have without being overly sweet or cloying, and it has a very clean finish as well. Some of the commercial orgeat syrups on the market have an overtly artificial, even chemical taste which can ruin a well crafted cocktail.

As to the rums, well, they speak for themselves. The Mai Tai is a rum cocktail and as such great rum should be the main note in the drink. LFV is my go-to Agricole, it's very flavorful, well aged, exceptionally smooth but with a wonderful spiciness, and is well priced considering it's full liter bottle size and age. Appleton Reserve is a very good Jamaican rum, not quite on par with Appleton's 12 year, but far better than the younger, thinner and less flavorful Appleton V/X. It's the best price to quality ratio Jamaican rum for mixing IMHO. These two rums work in tandem to replicate the flavors that Trader Vic found in the Wray & Nephew 17 year old rum (then the W&N 15YO after the 17YO was depleted) when he first made the Mai Tai in 1944. In fact, once Vic had completely exhausted the supply of old W&N rums thanks to the instant world wide success of his Mai Tai, he started using a mix of aged Agricole & Jamaican rums to make his famous cocktail with.

I would be curious to read about what rums & liqueurs other members are using to mix their Mai Tais. Any other fans of this great classic cocktail on the MOR forums?

Maita'i roa a'e!


Last edited by CraigH; 02-27-2012 at 12:29 AM.
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Old 02-25-2012, 05:38 AM   #2
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I did enjoy the Jamaica-Agricole combination, and sometimes still do, but now I prefer strong jamaican rums (2oz) with strong esters and ripe fruits on the palate.

Here,again, is the ranking of Mai Tai Rums from a friends blog:

All Mai Tais have been made with Marie Brizard Orange Curacao, Meneau Orgeat and selfmade Demerara Syrup.

The two I enjoyed the most lately have been with Berry's Own Selection Jamaica 1990 17yo (Hampden) and the LPS Long Pond 17 Years Old (53%), from Long Ponds Pot Still. These 2 are almost impossible to beat and do not need an Agricole added.

Edit: The Appleton Extra / Clement VSOP Mai Tai only got 6.5 points, which is also my point of view. I find Appleton rums to have a refined flavour profile, but when it comes to a Mai Tai it doesn't fit very well. It is too soft and has not enough fruit and esters to have the full jamaican flavour for your Mai Tai.
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Old 02-26-2012, 12:46 AM   #3
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Thanks for your reply. Colour me jealous, each of those two rums must make one hell of a Mai Tai! I've never seen the LPS Long Pond 17 Years in person, I've only read about it and I understand that it's superb. A local retailer had a small supply of the Berry's 1990 briefly, but I didn't act quickly enough before it was sold out. In any event, both are out of my budget for regular mixing. I understand that Ed Hamilton might have an aged pot still Jamaican rum coming to the market as part of his new collection. If true, I will be eagerly awaiting its arrival for use in a Mai Tai. Also, thank you for confirming my suspicion that Marie Brizard's Curaçao works in a Mai Tai. It's hard to find here in the States, and unfortunately much of the Brizard line that's sold here is not imported from France, but rather is made under contract by Jim Beam in Bardstown, Kentucky. The quality suffers for it too.


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Old 02-26-2012, 03:15 AM   #4
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Hi Craig,

The LPS is a second release (the first came in the exact same bottle and same label but is 11 years aged), which has just been released like around 2 weeks ago and is only available in germany :/ It sells for under 40€, which makes it a bargain.

As you can see Smith & Cross so far is the highest rated rum, which doesn't come from an idependent bottler and is regulary available. We are kind of blessed with Cadenhead's, Berry's, Rattray, Velier, Samaroli, Silver Seal and so on here.

As for my personel go to agricole for mixing (if I do enjoy a Mai Tai with Agricole added): J.Bally Vieux (3 Ans). Powerful, soft, nutty.
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Old 02-26-2012, 12:17 PM   #5
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Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 187

Marie Brizard Orange Curacao is my go-to liqueur for Mai Tais as well.

Craig, my bottle says it's imported by Marie Brizard in Bardstown, KY, and that it was produced in France. I checked all my other Brizard liqueurs and some have different importers, but they all state they were produced in France.
David J. Montgomery
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