“There will forever be debates about the tastiest and most proper combination of rum varieties to use in a Mai Tai, but as with any craft cocktail, rules can be bent and taste is always relative. Therein lies the magic at our fingertips. I like the rugged earthiness that rhum agricole brings to the table, and it balances well here with this smooth, five-year rum by Plantation. I skipped the often-added demerara syrup in favor of a touch more orgeat, then cut down on the curaçao to combat the sweetness. To add more depth, I tip my hat to my home state with the addition of Jamaican No. 2 Bitters from Milwaukee's Bittercube. The bright citrus and hibiscus coupled with warm ginger and allspice make a killer addition to any tiki cocktail. Finally, I buck tradition (uh, again?) with a float of Gosling's 151, simply because I like the visual contrast and a Mai Tai that packs a punch. Cheers!”
-Briana Rupel | Resident Bartender
- ¾ oz lime juice, freshly squeezed
- ¾ oz homemade orgeat syrup
- 1 oz Plantation five-year rum
- 1 oz Neisson Agricole Blanc Rhum
- ¼ oz Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao
- 2 dashes Bittercube Jamaican No. 2 Bitters
- ½ oz Gosling's Black Seal 151, reserved for float
- Add all except Gosling's to shaker. Mime shake (without ice) to amalgamate without diluting.
- Pour into large rocks glass, then fill with crushed ice.
- Use a bar spoon to float Gosling's on top.
- Garnish with a bountiful mint bouquet, smacked to release oils and avoid a straw. The mint aroma and rum float will do their best work when sippers put the glass to their lips.
(sub-recipe courtesy of Kevin Beary, beverage director of Three Dots and A Dash/The Bamboo Room, Chicago)
Perhaps the most essential ingredient to this viscous, nutty syrup is patience, something I didn't have a lot of during my first attempt at whipping up my own batch. Trust me, without a willingness to wait, your yield will be low, and your syrup chunky and flavorless. Orange blossom or rosewater is traditional, but not necessary.
Both are overwhelmingly perfumey, so I suggest adding a drop at a time and testing until desired result is reached, or skip it altogether like Kevin Beary and the crew at Three Dots. Beary's recipe is adaptable to your volume needs. -Briana Rupel
- Take skinless, blanched almonds, and soak them in tap water for 24 hours in the fridge.
- Strain the water off the almonds and add equal parts (by weight) of fresh water.
- Blend that and the almonds together until it turns into a paste and strain through a sieve.
- Keep the resulting almond milk, and sweeten it one-to-one with white sugar.*
*Beary highly recommends white sugar instead of less refined sugars because the darker molasses tones tend to cover up the beautiful almond flavor.