The time has come my friends to talk about, in my opinion, a very under appreciated cocktail. The cocktail that can either be summer in a glass or a winter warmer, what is this delight I hear you ask … the one and only, the Mai Tai.
My taste for rum started many years ago while living in Scotland, and it was my wonderful godfather who really made me appreciate the simple rum and coke. I will never forget his face when visiting one weekend I asked if he had any a dark rum lurking in the cupboard … well of course he did! He took me by the hand, into the kitchen and proceeded to show me just how to pour the perfect rum and coke. His top tip was using lots of fresh lime and to always run the last wedge of lime around the glass before throwing it on top of the ice. This was now officially my favourite drink! But as someone who loves trying new cocktails, I was always underwhelmed by the rum offerings in most bars, with a strawberry daiquiri or mojito usually being the only rum based drinks on the menu. That was until I asked a barman for a rum based cocktail that actually tasted of rum! I was sold on the description alone, a cocktail with more than one rum, a splash of citrus and a little pineapple for balance and it did not disappoint!
A Mai Tai perfectly combines the Caribbean feel of spiced rum punches, with the more robust taste of a short cocktail, like an old fashioned. Even better, if you are making them at home then you are able to really customise it to your own taste preference as there are so many slight variations you can try. And I’m here to share a few options. I’ll start with the recipe I use at home, I like to use a healthy measure of spiced rum, slightly more dark rum, a splash of Cointreau, a squeeze of fresh lime and a little pineapple juice for some body. I will put the full recipe at the bottom if you fancy giving it a go yourself! This combination will give you a cocktail that really packs a punch.
If you aren’t so fussed on the heavier, woody flavour of dark rum you can add in white rum, you might think surely that will make the cocktail stronger. But, if you decide to do this you will lessen the amount of spiced and dark rum you use to make room for the white rum. White rum is usually sweeter in flavour, as it has been aged for a shorter period of time. So, by using white rum you are going to get a much sweeter cocktail, probably more reminiscent of a Mai Tai you might get while sitting on a beach. If you are reading this and thinking no thanks I can’t stand pineapple never fear, you can also make this gem of a drink with orange juice. If you go for this option I’d recommend adding a little amaretto to your mix just to balance the orange juice and Cointreau flavours.
When you’ve got your perfect flavour combination mastered, you can then have some fun with how you serve your Mai Tai. For this there are endless possibilities. If you have a well stocked bar cupboard, a cocktail cherry and dried pineapple looks gorgeous and gives that holiday vibe. But, if you are like me and don’t tend to have dried fruit lying around, a couple of wedges of lime and a sprig of mint look just as good. Ice is also something that can really switch up your cocktail. I’m a traditionalist and so I always go for three or four decent sized ice cubes to serve my drink over, but Mai Tai’s also work really well over crushed ice. Lastly, to layer or not to layer? For aesthetics, pouring your dark rum measure on the cocktail once it has been strained into the glass and right before serving, will give you a really pretty drink and if you are serving this cocktail to others it’s sure to impress!
To make your Mai Tai you will need:
- A cocktail shaker
- A cocktail jigger
- A short cocktail glass
- Spiced rum (40ml)
- Dark rum (50ml)
- Cointreau (10ml)
- Pineapple juice (50ml)
- Fresh lime juice (15ml)
- Ice cubes
- Mint sprig for garnish
- Lime slices or for garnish
- Add spiced rum, cointreau, pineapple juice, lime juice into cocktail shaker with 3 ice cubes. Shake until you can no longer hear the ice rattling.
- Fill your cocktail glass with 3 or 4 ice cubes. Run a lime wedge around the rim of the glass.
- Pour cocktail over ice and add a couple of slices or wedges of lime for garnish and a mint sprig if you are feeling particularly fancy!
- Measure dark rum using jigger. Carefully and slowly pour dark rum over top of cocktail so it floats on top.