At recent cocktail get-together, my friend Chris Hayes and I were discussing a favorite subject of ours: how not to make an Old Fashioned. Chris (who surprised me a while back with his knowledge of the proper way to make this beverage) admitted that he once visited a chain restaurant in the area that served him bourbon and muddled orange juice over ice, topped off with tonic water in a draft glass. Sounds like I’d give that drink a different name altogether: “The Bourbon Hiding Behind Too Much Citrus Disappointment.”
The Old Fashioned is by no means the only drink that can be easily fumbled by improper proportions of spirits used, or more importantly, the over-use of any secondary mixing agents. The Martini, with too-much Vermouth, might become a winey “Martouth.” Similarly, a Jack Rose with too much lemon might wilt Jack’s rose altogether and create a “Sour Jack.” Indeed, these fine little things are among the most important aspects of properly mixing cocktails.
Hence, the prolific “Beachbum Berry,” a mixologist who specializes in tropical drinks (or even just straight, good rum if he’s feeling too lazy to have to shake up one of his famous classics) was kind enough to bestow upon bum-kind his own very special “Hundred Dollar Mai Tai” Recipe.
Granted, if you use $100 dollars for your ingredients, expect to mix a drink that tastes like a $100 dollar drink. However, if the name of this recipe has you cringing at the thought of exorbitant spending, Berry provides a little counter-logic to sway your opinion: “A fifth of rum contains 25.5 ounces, which amortizes out to 25 drinks. So divide that C-note by 25 and you’re actually paying a mere $4 per Mai Tai — about half of what you’d pay if you went to the mall and ordered one at P.J. McGillicuddy’s Food ‘N’ Funnery.” To have a look at Berry’s complete $100 list, follow the link below to his blog:
Beachbum Berry then tells us what to do with the ingredients he amasses: “To make one $100 Mai Tai, crush enough ice to fill a double old-fashioned glass, and put the crushed ice in your cocktail shaker. Next, pour in one ounce of Saint james, one ounce of Appleton, 1/2 ounce of Curacao, and one-fourth of an ounce each of orgeat and rock candy syrup. Then, pour in one ounce of fresh-squeezed lime juice (we know, the Grog Log specifies 1 1/2 ounces, but for some reason, with these rums, one ounce feels right — more and the lime dominates, less and the result is too sweet). Now, drop in a lime shell and shake everything like hell for around ten seconds. Finally, pour it all into your double old-fashioned glass, add more crushed ice to fill, and garnish with a sprig of mint.” For a bit of extra credit, Robert Hess also did a great rendition of this beverage on his Small Screen Network program “The Cocktail Spirit.”
Originally made with a 17-year-old rum imported by J. Wray & Nephew, the bum cites Trader Vic in reminding us that “The flavor of this great rum wasn’t meant to be overpowered with heavy additions of fruit juices and flavorings.” Nonetheless, in years since its conception the otherwise excellent tropical cocktail has been trans-mutated into what Berry calls “crayon-colored liquid candy. A proper Mai Tai has a deep amber hue, because it’s the liquor that should dominate the drink, not the sweeteners.” This just goes to show that even a typically sweet-and-fruity tropical drink can go badly wrong if not mixed properly. An experienced drinker will look forward to the subtle blending of the right liquors; on the other hand, if you just want to taste coconuts and citrus, try ordering a virgin next time.
Tags: Mai Tai