Stir up a tropical getaway in a glass by mixing up a mai tai. Although there are many variations on the classic mai tai, none can compare to the well-balanced, original recipe, which was reportedly created by Victor Jules Bergeron Jr., the founder of Trader Vic’s tiki restaurants. Skip the mai tai mix in favor of a homemade concoction that combines rum; orange liqueur; fresh squeezed citrus juice; and a complex, homemade almond syrup.
Things You'll Need
Create your own orgeat syrup, which is French almond syrup that gives a mai tai its classic flavor, by soaking sliced, raw almonds in tap water for 30 minutes.
Drain the almonds and pulse them in a food processor until the nuts are coarsely ground.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover it with distilled water and let it soak for another 4 to 5 hours, stirring it once every hour.
Strain the mixture through cheesecloth into the saucepan. Squeeze the cheesecloth to extract as much liquid as you can before discarding the almonds.
Stir sugar into the mixture, using about a sixth as much sugar as water. For example, if you use 3 1/2 cups of water to soak the ground almonds, use approximately 1/2 cup sugar. Heat the liquid and sugar over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in approximately 1 ounce each vodka and cognac, or brandy, for every 3 1/2 cups of water used to make the syrup. Add additional components to re-create the complex flavor of orgeat, such as orange blossom water, rosewater and a small amount of almond extract, which gives the syrup a slight bitterness.
Allow the mixture to cool before transferring to a clean glass jar or bottle. Store any unused portion in the refrigerator for up to a few months.
Grab a glass and fill it with ice. Use a hurricane glass, if you have one, or any other glass that you have on hand. Also fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
Combine 1 part of your almond mixture and 1 part grenadine with 6 parts of dark rum; 6 parts silver rum; 6 parts orange liqueur, such as curacao or triple sec; and 6 parts fresh lime juice in the shaker.
Mix vigorously in the shaker for approximately 20 to 30 seconds, or until the outside is very cold. Strain it into the glass and garnish with a wedge of fresh pineapple and a sprig of fresh mint, if desired.
References and ResourcesTop Secret Recipes -- Sodas, Spirits and Shakes; Todd Wilbur
The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook; Rick Rodgers
Shake, Stir, Pour: Fresh Homegrown Cocktails; Katie Loeb
Serious Eats: Mai Tai
Imbibe: Homemade Orgeat