B.J.'s Favorite Mai Tai
The Mai Tai is a delicious rum concoction most likely invented by Trader Vic Bergeron sometime in 1944. As the story goes, Trader Vic was looking for a delicious way to serve some excellent Jamaican rum to a pair of guests from Tahiti. The rum was good all on its own, so he didn't want to overpower it with lots of ingredients. He mixed it with some lime juice, orange curacao, rock candy syrup and a dash of french orgeat (an almond syrup). After one sip his guests exclaimed, "Maita'i roa!". In Tahitian this means "Out of This World - The Best". The Mai Tai was born!
Fruit juice, other than a little lime, was never part of the original recipe, but as the Mai Tai went Hawaiian, allegedly brought to the islands in the 50's by the Trader himself, various permutations based on pineapple and orange juice became popular. The Trader's original recipe is truly delicious, but when on the Big Island, I favor a recipe with a little pineapple juice.
The Marriott Hotel Mai Tai
The Marriott Hotel Mai Tai is the best I've tasted yet, being a little less sweet than the others, thanks to a generous amount of lemon juice. One evening my wife surprised me by getting the recipe from the bartender. Now I can sip a little of that tropical flavor, even when I'm off-island. The recipe below is my interpretation of this classic drink based on the Marriott's recipe.
1 oz Light Rum
1 oz Dark Rum
1/4 oz Orange Curacao
1/4 oz Orgeat Syrup
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Fresh Meyer Lemon Juice
I like to premix all the ingredients except for the rum ahead of time. This is especially useful if entertaining others. Mix the Orange Curacao, Orgeat, Pineapple and Lemon juices in the right proportions for the number of Mai Tai's you're making.
Fill an old-fashioned glass with crushed ice (or ice cubes, if you prefer). Pour in the light rum and the mix of other ingredients you created above, then float the dark rum on top. Garnish with a wedge of lime and a pineapple slice. If you like your mai tai a little sweeter, add an extra half ounce of pineapple juice. If two ounces of rum is a bit strong, try using 3/4 ounce of each rum instead.
Drinking your Mai Tai
There are almost as many ways to drink a Mai Tai as there are to make one. When mixed as above, your Mai Tai will have the colorful layered look of a Hawaiian sunset. I like to drink it as is and experience each layer. First a very strong layer of almost pure dark rum, then a fruity, refreshing and less alchoholic layer, and finish with tropical mix of juices and light rum. But feel free to stir it all up, it's delicious no matter how you drink it!