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Tiki Central Forums » » Tiki Drinks and Food » » Updates to The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide on The Atomic Grog
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Updates to The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide on The Atomic Grog
Hurricane Hayward
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Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1409
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2015-11-12 11:07 pm   Permalink

As posted on a few other threads, I've just updated The Mai-Kai guide to rums from Guyana with a head-to-head comparison of the much-ballyhooed 151 rums ...



http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2012/05/08/rums-of-the-mai-kai-legendary-lemon-hart-returns-to-the-promised-land/#151-compare

On a 1-5 scale, with 5 being perfection:
4.7 – Lemon Hart 151 “yellow label”
4.5 – Lemon Hart 151 “red label”
4.4 – Hamilton 151

It's hard to beat the old yellow label Lemon Hart, but Hamilton 151 comes close. Check the link above for the full review.


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mikehooker
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Jul 17, 2014
Posts: 915
From: Austin
Posted: 2015-11-23 12:57 pm   Permalink

I recently snagged a copy of Mr. Lemon Hart's Tropical Treats cocktail guide and was surprised to find a couple Mai Kai recipes inside. I compared them to the ancestral recipes you posted on the Atomic Grog which were both sourced from Berry's books. Only difference I noticed between those and the recipes in this 1973 publication are the proportions. The Lemon Hart drinks are exactly half the size. Has Mai Kai doubled the size of their drinks since then or was Jeff just trying to make these larger for our own enjoyment/drunkenness?






 
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lunavideogames
Grand Member (5 years)  

Joined: May 09, 2012
Posts: 1853
From: San Diego
Posted: 2015-11-23 1:14 pm   Permalink

Those look like pretty small drinks... 2 oz in a Shrunkin Skull?!? Is that a shot

 
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mikehooker
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Jul 17, 2014
Posts: 915
From: Austin
Posted: 2015-11-23 1:28 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2015-11-23 13:14, lunavideogames wrote:
Those look like pretty small drinks... 2 oz in a Shrunkin Skull?!? Is that a shot



Right?! So why did they publish it half size?


 
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Hurricane Hayward
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Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1409
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2015-11-24 11:43 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2015-11-23 13:28, mikehooker wrote:
Quote:

On 2015-11-23 13:14, lunavideogames wrote:
Those look like pretty small drinks... 2 oz in a Shrunkin Skull?!? Is that a shot



Right?! So why did they publish it half size?



Are they trying to be consistent with the rest of the recipes in the book? I have no other explanation. You'd think they would want to sell more rum, not less.

The Shrunken Skull is certainly much bigger than that, as we all know well. (And if you haven't had the drink lately, since they added Hamilton 151, do yourself a favor and revisit it. I was pleasantly surprised. The rougher Hamilton cuts through the sweetness of the drink.)

As for the Demerara Cocktail, it has returned several times for special occasions, and while not as potent as the Bum's version, its definitely bigger than that Lemon Hart recipe. Here's my tribute:
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2012/01/08/mai-kai-cocktail-review-the-demerara-cocktail-is-a-throwback-to-another-era/#tribute



Mahalo for sharing Mike!

And to answer your original question, I seriously doubt that they have doubled the size of any of the drinks over the years. In all the old photos I've seen, they look almost identical. And the glassware is virtually the same size.

I think this was taken some time in the mid to late '70s when Mariano was still there:

The drinks are remarkably similar today. Though you'll notice some vintage glassware that's no longer around, like the Deep Sea Diver glass in the upper left.

[ This Message was edited by: Hurricane Hayward 2015-11-24 12:01 ]


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Hurricane Hayward
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Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1409
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2015-11-29 10:54 am   Permalink

Mike: Upon further reflection, my educated guess is that Jeff tweaked the proportions to make them larger. I'm pretty sure he made multiple changes to drinks he found in old books to make them better. The "Mr. Lemon Hart" book is in the Sippin' Safari bibliography, so it makes sense that's his source for the Demerara Cocktail.

I'll try to verify this with him when I get a chance, but I know he made tweaks to replace defunct ingredients (like fassionola) and make some recipes more modern and easier to make, not to mention enhance "our own enjoyment/drunkenness." :>)

Also worth noting: Back in the day, recipes were kept in such secrecy that it wasn't uncommon for bartenders to give book writers and magazines a different recipe, often dumbed down or not as good as what they served in their bars. Donn Beach was known to do this, which is one of the theories about the 1950 Zombie.

So it's also possible that The Mai-Kai gave the Lemon Hart book publisher a scaled back recipe on purpose, though that doesn't really hide the secret that much. Come to think of it, I've seen smaller versions of the Mara Amu published as well.

Also, regarding the Shrunken Skull, they might have given the book the version without the 151 floater that Donn originally served. All the Mai-Kai menus I've seen include the little shot glass next to the mug. I'll have to ask Jeff about this as well. It's likely that he knew this, having already frequented The Mai-Kai when he published the Shrunken Skull recipe (without credit) in Grog Log. It's possible Jeff got this recipe from the Mr. Lemon Hart book and surmised that it was Donn's version.


 
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Hurricane Hayward
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Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1409
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2015-12-29 2:11 pm   Permalink

We had a great time at last night's 59th anniversary party in The Molokai. It didn't hurt that most drinks and appetizers were 59% off all night. Mahalo to Dave, Kern, Pia and everyone at The Mai-Kai for the great hospitality.


We started with the Zombie and Mai Tai and didn't look back. All the drinks and food were on-point all night. I posted more photos on The Mai-Kai and "What are you drinking?" threads.

Noted lowbrow and tattoo artist Pooch joined me for more than a few. Mrs. Hurricane and I hung out with lots of friendly ohana.


An added bonus, the new mugs from Tiki Diablo are already available in the gift shop ...


The Week in Tiki is taking up most of my blogging time, but I promise lots of updates to The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide in the coming months. I've been busy with research and have quite a bit of news to report.

The Hukilau's Tiki Kiliki dropped by recently to help with the research ...


Okole maluna!
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Events, music, art, cocktails, culture

The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide | The Tiki Times


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AceExplorer
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Apr 03, 2008
Posts: 2198
From: Deep in the Jacksonville Florida jungle.
Posted: 2015-12-29 2:15 pm   Permalink

Nice bar, Jim, with interesting lighting! You need an area where you post signed photos of prominent visitors.

 
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Hurricane Hayward
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Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1409
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2016-01-09 09:36 am   Permalink

On Thursday, I had the chance to take a tour of the back service bar and got another look at the historic rum collection ...












 
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mikehooker
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Jul 17, 2014
Posts: 915
From: Austin
Posted: 2016-01-09 1:50 pm   Permalink

Super cool. So what do you have to do to get a taste of some of those??

 
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Hurricane Hayward
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Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1409
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2016-01-09 10:13 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2016-01-09 13:50, mikehooker wrote:
Super cool. So what do you have to do to get a taste of some of those??



Most of the old stuff is most likely undrinkable, unfortunately. I recall a Beachbum Berry blog from eight or so years ago where he wrote about getting his first tour back there. He talked them into letting him sample a few old bottles, but they had either become tasteless or turned to sludge. I've heard that the only chance of an old bottle surviving for decades is keeping it unopened.

FYI, here's a photo of the same bar from 1962 (scanned from Sippin' Safari). That's head bartender Mariano Licudine at right and manager Robert Van Dorpe at left.


On a related topic: Swanky has launched a great-looking website that previews his upcoming book ...
http://www.maikaihistory.com

Some great photos of rare mugs: http://www.maikaihistory.com/?page_id=462

[ This Message was edited by: Hurricane Hayward 2016-01-09 22:28 ]


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Swanky
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Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5276
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2016-01-10 06:43 am   Permalink

Btw, that's James Donn In the center of the picture. Head of Gulfstream Park.

 
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CincyTikiCraig
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Joined: Mar 31, 2009
Posts: 417
From: Cincinnati, Ohio USA
Posted: 2016-02-24 7:35 pm   Permalink

Hayward,

Awhile back you teased us with a hint that you had gleaned some new insight into something special regarding the Mai Kai's lime juice. Can you divulge any more for us?


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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1409
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2016-03-15 9:05 pm   Permalink

CincyTikiCraig, I promise some inside info on the juices, including lime, in the near future.

In the meantime, here are some new recipes to check out ....

First up, The Mai-Kai's entry in The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival on Friday, Feb. 26 ...



Full recap of the event, including photos and reviews of all the cocktails:
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2016/02/21/top-tiki-mixologists-take-their-talents-to-south-beach-wine-food-festival-for-cocktail-showdown/



Recipe for The Mai-Kai’s Pupule Punch:
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2016/02/21/top-tiki-mixologists-take-their-talents-to-south-beach-wine-food-festival-for-cocktail-showdown/#pupule-punch

Next, a new tribute recipe for the Martinique Milk Punch, an oft-ignored drink that recently underwent a transformation ...



http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2011/12/18/mai-kai-cocktail-review-got-milk-punch-martinique-rum-adds-zing-to-this-classic/

This classic that dates back to the original 1956 menu has rocketed up the ratings, jumping from No. 41 to No. 33 (and from 2 1/2 to 3 stars) in The Atomic Grog ratings. All thanks to Hamilton 86 rum from Guyana replacing a undistinguished Martinique rum.



This is the 31st tribute recipe, and 95th recipe overall for drinks on the current and past menus.

Okole maluna!


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Hurricane Hayward
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Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1409
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2016-03-16 9:55 pm   Permalink

I promised a blockbuster announcement many months ago, so without further ado ...

The Mai-Kai DOES NOT USE CINNAMON SYRUP in any of its cocktails. Manager Kern Mattei revealed this to me shortly after The Hukilau last June, and I've been holding off on posting any updates until I had a chance to revise all the reviews and recipes. But it's been dragging on too long so I thought I'd get the news online now so everyone can discuss this mysterious development while I post updated tribute recipes a few at a time.

First, the quick backstory: I had heard this rumor several years ago, but I dismissed it. I had spent years sampling the cocktails and comparing them to the Don the Beachcomber originals, most of which featured Don’s Spices #4 (aka cinnamon simple syrup). They seemingly tasted the same. It wasn't unusual to hear folks mention it, or to see posts here on TC that referred to cinnamon in the cocktails at The Mai-Kai.



Then, last year at The Hukilau, Kern rolled out a special cocktail for Rhum Barbancourt featuring cinnamon syrup. This, I figured, would debunk those rumors. The 1862 Rhum Punch was an excellent cocktail that showcased Rhum Barbancourt 5 Star, and also featured lime, grapefruit and Kahlua. Check out the recipe here:
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2015/06/30/the-week-in-tiki-june-15-28-2015-summer-events-in-full-swing-with-the-hukilau-ohana-luau-at-the-lake-more/#1862-rhum-punch

I use past tense in referring to the drink because The Mai-Kai quickly stopped serving it a week after The Hukilau. When I questioned Kern, he said they "ran out" of cinnamon syrup. "What do you mean?" I asked. "Don't you use it in a bunch of other drinks?" His reply: "Oh, no. I just made a batch at home for the Barbancourt drink. We don't have any cinnamon syrup in the bar."

Of course, I panicked. Immediately I knew that 11 of my tribute recipes were essentially incorrect, so I had to scramble. I started re-tasting all of the cocktails and set about re-examining the recipes to figure out how we could have missed this. Were we all hoodwinked?

First up, I'm posting some of the more simple recipes that were easy to adjust. The 1/8 ounce of cinnamon syrup that I had slipped into the Shark Bite was easy to replace with extra simple syrup. This one was my own doing. I had never seen a Shark's Tooth recipe with cinnamon. It just was such a great drink, and the tiny bit of extra spice worked so well in the tribute that I just went with it, to a small amount of fanfare.

Here's the updated recipe with more notes on the cinnamon saga:
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2011/08/17/mai-kai-cocktail-review-what-makes-the-shark-bite-so-jawesome/#tribute



Note that as these recipes are revised, I'm leaving the previous version on the page for reference. I know many folks will want to continue to add cinnamon when they make the drinks at home. It certainly doesn't hurt.

Next up is the Bora Bora, which does have a large dose of Don's Mix (2 parts grapefruit juice to 1 part cinnamon syrup) in its Donga Punch ancestor recipe (from Sippin' Safari). The mind does play tricks on you when you assume what you're tasting is one thing and it's actually not. However, by replacing Don's Mix with a combination of grapefruit juice and simple syrup, then adding a few extra dashes of bitters, the revised tribute recipe was pretty darn close to the original:
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2011/08/31/mai-kai-cocktail-review-bora-bora-is-not-for-the-timid/#tribute

The lesson to be learned: Reverse engineering tropical drinks is not an exact science. Many factors, including ancestor recipes, can conspire to deceive the taste buds. Several drinks merely feature a cinnamon stick garnish, not actual syrup, causing the nose to interfere with the taste buds. In others, I might have been fooled by the combination of honey and allspice liqueur.



I'll try to post updated reviews and recipes every week or so as I work though the rest of the cocktails that include cinnamon syrup in the tribute recipes. I invite everyone to make both versions at home and compare them for yourself. Feel free to post your comments here and chime in on The Mai-Kai's mysterious phantom cinnamon syrup.

Okola maluna!


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