The Original Tiki Cocktail: Mai Tai

Summer is just about here and while not all of us will be going on a tropical vacation this summer, we can bring part of the paradise experience home by making our own tiki cocktails. The most popular tiki drink undoubtedly is the Mai Tai. There are many variations for this cocktail but I’m going to tell you how to make the original recipe.

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The invention of the Mai Tai is debated because both Ernest Beaumont-Gantt (a.k.a. “Donn Beach,” the father of tiki culture) and Trader Vic founder Victor Bergeron claim to be responsible for its creation. The Mai Tai recipes that both men created are similar but slightly different, with the recipe created by Donn Beach including Pernod and Angostura bitters. This is the traditional recipe made by Victor Bergeron:

  • 1 ounce dark Jamaican rum
  • 1 ounce white rum
  • 1/2 ounce orange Curacao
  • 1/4 ounce Orgeat syrup
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • Juice from one fresh lime (about 3/4 ounce)

Fill a shaker with ice cubes and all of the ingredients except the dark rum and shake well. Strain into a glass filled with ice and float the dark rum on top. Garnish with a pineapple wedge, cherry, and mint sprig.

So even if you aren’t going on a trip to Hawaii or Polynesia, you can make a Mai Tai and have your own little tropical get away at home. Although there are many variations of the Mai Tai, this is the customary recipe. Try one and let me know what you think. Cheers!

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Summer Cocktails: Mint Julep and Mojito

With the weather warming up and summer right behind the corner, cold cocktails with fresh mint leaves are the perfect choice for hot summer days or warm evenings. Two of the most popular cocktails that use fresh mint leaves are the mint julep and mojito. Both drinks use mint leaves to provide a unique and refreshing flavor. Mint juleps are typically a cocktail associated with southern states, specifically Kentucky. The mojito on the other hand is a traditional Cuban cocktail.

Mint juleps have a long history with the southern states dating back to the eighteenth century. More recently, the mint julep has become associated with horse racing and is the official drink of the Churchill Downs and Kentucky Derby. And with the Kentucky Oaks & Derby coming up (May 3 and 4), here’s the traditional mint julep recipe so you can make your own and watch the races:

  • 3 ounces Bourbon whiskey
  • 1 ounce simple syrup (or granulated sugar, to taste)
  • 4-6 sprigs mint leaves

Put the mint leaves, simple syrup or sugar, and a small amount of bourbon into a glass and muddle the mint leaves to release the mint’s essential oil and flavor. Add crushed ice and the rest of the bourbon. Mix everything together and garnish with a mint sprig. It is traditionally served in a silver julep cup or more commonly a tall glass.

Mint Julep

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The mojito has a rich history Cuba and was one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite drinks. The mojito, or at least a similar drink, is believed to have been first concocted by members of Francis Drake’s crew as a remedy for scurvy. While most of us don’t have to worry about staving off scurvy nowadays, the mojito is a great drink to help cool off on hot summer days. The traditional mojito recipe is:

  • 2 ounces white rum
  • ¾ ounce fresh lime juice OR ½ lime cut into 4 wedges
  • 1 ounce simple syrup OR 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ ounce chilled club soda
  • 8 mint leaves

Muddle mint leaves, sugar or simple syrup, and lime juice or 3 of the lime wedges. Add ice, rum, and club soda, and then stir. Garnish with mint sprig and/or a lime wedge.

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Both of these drinks are a great choice to cool off on a hot summer day, the mint julep with more of a classic American taste and the mojito with a nice tropical flavor. Try both of these refreshing drinks and decide which one you like better. Leave me a comment and let me know which drink you prefer to cool off with. Cheers!

Tropical cocktails: Margaritas and Daiquiris

Daiquiris and margaritas are classic tropical cocktails. Both cocktails have a similar taste and they both have Latin American roots. The daiquiri originated in Cuba and the margarita came from Mexico. Both have a similar citrusy taste to them. The main difference between the two is that daiquiris use rum and margaritas use tequila. Both drinks can be served either on the rocks or blended with ice but the traditional way to serve both cocktails is on the rocks.

 

The original recipe for a daiquiri is:

2 1/2 ounces white rum

1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice

4 teaspoons superfine sugar

Ice

1 lime wheel, for garnish

 

In a cocktail shaker, add rum, lime juice and sugar. Add the ice and shake until chilled, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with the lime wheel and serve.

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A margarita is made with similar ingredients but uses tequila in place of rum and uses Cointreau or triple sec instead of sugar. The traditional recipe for a margarita is:

1 1/2 ounces blanco tequila

1 ounce Cointreau or triple sec

3/4 ounce fresh lime juice

Ice

 

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the tequila, Cointreau and fresh lime juice and shake well. Strain the drink into a chilled glass.

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Both of these drinks can be made with variations and use other ingredients to give them other fruit flavors but these are the traditional recipes. Now that you know how easy it is to make daiquiris and margaritas, make them and compare to see which one you like better. Cheers!

 

Rogue Hazelnut Spice Rum

002If you have read my blog before, you might have noticed that I am a fan of Rogue ales and I’ve written a couple posts about Rogue, one post on Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale and another on Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar. One day I was looking on the Rogue website and noticed that they also make spirits, so after I saw that, I was on a mission to get a bottle. Rogue makes a couple different varieties of whiskey, gin, and rum.

I read the descriptions of all the spirits they make and thought the Hazelnut Spice Rum and Oregon Single Malt Whiskey sounded the most interesting so I went to a store that is basically a Costco dedicated to alcohol, Total Wine & More. This store has any and every type and brand of alcohol that you could want. I decided to save the whiskey for a later date and opened up the Hazelnut Spice Rum.

According to their website, Rogue Hazelnut Spice Rum is made with 10 ingredients: 100% pure Hawaiian cane sugar, toasted Oregon hazelnuts, orange peel, vanilla bean, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, Champagne yeast, and free range coastal water. When making their handcrafted rum, Rogue double distills each batch in order to extract and remove lower grade alcohols. They then use a charcoal filtering process similar to Jack Daniel’s. The rum is then mellowed in Oak barrels.

The nose of this rum has a unique toasted hazelnut aroma. The flavor starts off with sweet notes of brown sugar and opens up to a strong toasted hazelnut taste that is accompanied by hints of cinnamon and clove. It has a finish that almost resembles bourbon with notes of oak and vanilla. Overall, this is a good, complex, and unique bottle of rum. It’s not like Captain Morgan or your average spiced rum. If you’re looking to try something different, you should definitely pick up a bottle of Rogue Hazelnut Spice Rum, if you can find it.