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Tiki Central Forums Tiki Drinks and Food The Mai Tai, a component study in Mixology
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The Mai Tai, a component study in Mixology
Chip and Andy
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Joined: Jul 13, 2004
Posts: 2123
From: Corner table, Molokai Lounge, Mai-Kai.
Posted: 2006-07-08 8:09 pm   Permalink

Who would like to join me in a study of the Mai Tai? This is much easier to do in person, obviously. But, since the Mai Tai is a sort of Holy Grail of drinks around here lets try this online version......

Join me, if you will, on a taste test of the Mai Tai. Not the finished cocktail, but the components that make up a Mai Tai. I would like everyone to mix along at home and share with us your opinions of the tastes used in making a Mai Tai.

First, the ground rules:
We are not going to debate the origins of the Mai Tai, who made it and when are not important to this discussion.
We are not going to debate who has a better recipe or ingredient or anything else. We are examining the elements that make a Mai Tai.

Then, the specifics of this journey....

We are going to examine the individual component flavors of the Mai Tai, and we are going to use Beachbum Berry's recipe from the Grog Log which is Lime, Curacao, Orgeat, Sugar Syrup, Jamaican and Martinique Rums. Why this recipe? Because it come from a source we are all familiar with and this journey will only work if we are all using the same map.

Now, we are ready to begin. Every few days I will ring the proverbial bell and we will move on to the next ingredient. Your task in this journey is to tell us your tasting opinions of each of the ingredients, in the order called, that make up the Mai Tai. Tell us what, specifically, you used in your tasting and what you thought of that taste using descriptive adjectives like "sweet" or "bitter" or "slightly astringent." Yes, this part is hard to do without sounding like some sort of drink Snob, just know that your opinions of the taste are helping everyone and everyone else feels equally silly.

Remember, this is a journey and we are all starting from very different places with ingredients that are easier for some to obtain compared to others. One of the purposes of taking this kind of journey is to share with others what you taste, not why you are tasting what you are tasting. The specifics of the taste are what you are going to be sharing.

Ready? Set..... Go!

I will start. We can skip the Syrup part of the tastes in a Mai Tai because it is simply sugar water. Sweet.... duh!

So, let us begin with the Lime element. Your task to start is to try Lime Juice. Yes, pour yourself a shot of Lime Juice. Go ahead, it won't hurt. And, try as many different kinds of lime juice as you can find. And yes, that includes the little lime squeezy things in the produce department....

Lime Juice. I used fresh limes cut in half and then crushed using my hand held squeezer that looks like
this. I like this kind of squeezer because you get the juice AND you get some of the oils out of the peel. Those oils are the aromatic part of the juice that makes the juice smell AND taste good. I find that fresh limes have a nose that is missing from all of the bottled stuff, and that it is generally sweeter then the bottled stuff. I tried some Key-Lime juice from a bottle and it tasted really good, but it left an acidic aftertaste on the tongue. The bottled stuff tasted good, but was kind of limp and lifeless when compared to fresh.

Now, your turn. Tell us about your lime tasting....... And remember, this is for posterity so try to be honest.

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[ This Message was edited by: Chip and Andy 2006-08-07 06:44 ]


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tekoteko
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Joined: Jun 20, 2005
Posts: 299
From: The Abyss.
Posted: 2006-07-08 9:11 pm   Permalink

Alrighty then...on to my experiences with the lime tasting. I tried fresh squeezed and store bought. The fresh squeezed lime tasted...well...fresher (duh), but had a more vibrant and full flavor. I did not notice an aftertaste with the fresh squeezed juice, although I did have an involuntary wink. The store bought lime juice went down easier, but DID have an aftertaste. I didn't get an involuntary wink, but rather differently, an involuntary tongue-waggle a few seconds after swallowing. Not sure if this is of any descriptive help, but the fresh lime juice tasted GREENER...and the store bought juice tasted CLEARER...even though they were both of the same opacity. Then I made a Mai Tai. And a Buzz.

 
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captnkirk
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Joined: Nov 06, 2002
Posts: 322
From: Hockessin, Delaware
Posted: 2006-07-09 10:35 am   Permalink

Great minds must think alike, I already did this exact comparison about 3 day ago.

I mixed a
Beachbum Berry's Hundred Dollar Mai I thought it was the finest Mai Tai I had ever tasted. I had used Key lime juice to make it, and I don't use Key lime juice very often. Then I mixed one with regular Meyer lime juice just to be sure it was not only the juice which made it taste so good to me. It was still pretty damn good, but I didn't like it quite as much. So I tasted the juice from the limes side by side just to be sure.



Key lime juice is sweeter, and I liked it a little better in the Mai Tais I made.
Meyer lime juice is more sour and had a more peel oils and limey taste to it.

Both Mai Tais that I mixed were awesome. This is all a personal choice like asking someone which Miss America contestant is prettier.

P.S. The fresh Key lime juice is more expensive to use, becuse you have to squeeze about four times as many lime for the same amount of juice.


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Chip and Andy
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Joined: Jul 13, 2004
Posts: 2123
From: Corner table, Molokai Lounge, Mai-Kai.
Posted: 2006-07-09 11:07 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2006-07-09 10:35, captnkirk wrote:
...Key lime juice is sweeter, and I liked it a little better in the Mai Tais I made.
Meyer lime juice is more sour and had a more peel oils and limey taste to it.

...P.S. The fresh Key lime juice is more expensive to use, because you have to squeeze about four times as many lime for the same amount of juice.



Thank you for the comparison of Key and Meyer limes, this is exactly the kind of information we are trying to share. Not everyone is going to have access to Key Limes, but if/when they are available it is worth the effort.
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freddiefreelance
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Joined: Feb 15, 2003
Posts: 2987
From: San Diego, Ca.
Posted: 2006-07-10 07:53 am   Permalink

I'd already posed a similar question in the "Ideal Mai-Tai" thread. Here's the list of different Limes I found from Professor & Horticulturalist Julian W. Sauls of Texas A & M:
Quote:
Mexican lime is also known as key lime and West Indian lime. It originated in Asia, was introduced to the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa by Arab traders and was brought to the Americas during the early sixteenth century by Spanish and Portugese explorers. It became naturalized in the West Indies, south Florida and some Caribbean countries.

The tree is somewhat small and bushy, with slender branches, having short spines (thorns). A thornless selection is somewhat more desirable but less productive. The fruit is small, rarely achieving 2 inches in size, round to oval in shape, and contains a moderate number of polyembryonic seeds. The rind is thin and yellow at full maturity, while the juice is faintly greenish yellow, highly acid and has the distinctive lime aroma.

Tahiti lime is also called Bearss lime and Persian lime. Although its exact origin is unknown, it appeared in a home planting is California about 1875 and is believed to have originated from seed of citrus fruit imported from Tahiti to San Francisco sometime after 1850. It is also believed to be of hybrid origin.

The tree is somewhat larger than Mexican lime, achieving heights of 20 feet under optimum conditions. The branches are variably thornless or armed with quarter-inch thorns--even on the same tree. The fruit is oval, about 2.75 inches long and up to 2.5 inches in diameter, but it will get even larger if left too long on the tree. It is characterized by the presence of a nipple on the blossom end of the fruit. The rind is thin, smooth and dark green at commercial maturity, becoming very light green to yellow at full maturity. The fruit is normally entirely seedless, although one or two seeds may occur when grown in close proximity to other citrus. The juice is greenish and acidic, having the distinctive lime aroma.

Giant key lime was released by ARS-USDA in 1994. It is a spontaneous autotetraploid Key lime seedling that was selected in 1973. The major difference in this lime is that its fruit are more than twice the size of common Mexican limes. Budwood is not available in Texas, so it is only reported as an item of interest for the future.

Rangpur lime is an acidic fruit that more closely resembles mandarins than limes. Its fruit are highly acid, very seedy, with a loose, thin rind. It is primarily used as a rootstock for other citrus and as an ornamental tree.

Palestine sweet lime is not a true lime. Its fruit are pale yellow, juicy and subacid in flavor. Its primary use is as a rootstock, although there is some production in the Mediterranean, in India and in Latin America.

Limequats such as 'Eustis', 'Lakeland' and 'Tavares' are hybrids between Mexican lime and kumquat. The fruit closely resembles Mexican lime and the trees are somewhat more cold hardy than limes--though not nearly so hardy as kumquats.

Mexican lime and the limequats are sufficiently small trees that they can be readily grown in large containers in areas where cold temperatures would preclude their being grown in the ground.


This doesn't mention Kaffir, also called Thai or Wild limes, or mention the difference between the original Key limes & the current, Mexican limes being grown in parts of the keys as Key limes. It also doesn't mention that the Kaffir & original Key limes were the only truely green limes, and that the rest are really more yellow unless picked before they're ripe. One of the reasons that you don't get much juice from a lime is that they're under-ripe when picked.

I'd assume that Trader Vic was using either original Key limes or green Mexican limes, since they're the most popular limes in the US, but Bearss limes are a definite possibility since they trace their lineage to San Francisco.

There's also an Australian Lime, but that isn't related to the true limes.

Also, are you going to discuss Garnishes? There's different kinds of Mint & Pineapple to discuss after Mai-Tai Class is over.
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Swanky
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Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 4962
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2006-07-10 08:09 am   Permalink

I'll pass along this bit of knowledge that I received from Pablus, who received it from one of the top chefs in the country.

When picking limes and lemons in the produce isle, what you want to look for is complexion. Forget color and all that other stuff. Look for the citrus with the smoothest complexion. Easy with limes, a little trickier with lemons.

And if you didn't know, when picking pineapples, sniff their butts. Er, well, the bottom end. The better pineapple (generally, as I have had fantastic fresh pineapple in Mexico with no fragrance) will smell better at the bottom. Pineapple is picked ripe and does not ripen after picking. You can't let it sit around like other fruits. It just goes bad. And, if you put the top in the ground, it will grow...
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DJ HawaiianShirt
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Joined: Feb 04, 2006
Posts: 148
From: NoVA, DC
Posted: 2006-07-10 08:13 am   Permalink

Does anyone have a specific method or tool that they find can extract the most juice from any given lime? At the end of a good lime squeeze, I always feel like I'm still throwing alot of juice away.

 
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Swanky
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Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 4962
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2006-07-10 08:54 am   Permalink

I prefer the vinatge "Juice King."

I have a "Juice-O-Matic" and it's geared wrong. It takes a lot of turns to get the half lime or lemon in it, and then to squeeze it. The Juice King takes a half crank to get the citrus in and squeeze. Very fast and efficient. Nothing left but the rind and a bit of pulp.

Also take note. Once you have squeezed the citrus, you can open the juicer and start the next one. Juice will continue to pour out of the device, which may lead you to keep squeezing, thinking you are getting more juice. Nope. Once you hit bottom, go to the next half. It just takes a few seconds for the juice to come out to the cup, but be assured it is already out of the fruit.

I got my Juice King for about $8.
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KuKuAhu
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Joined: Dec 23, 2002
Posts: 567
From: Kahiki, Ohio
Posted: 2006-07-10 09:02 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2006-07-10 08:13, DJ HawaiianShirt wrote:
Does anyone have a specific method or tool that they find can extract the most juice from any given lime? At the end of a good lime squeeze, I always feel like I'm still throwing alot of juice away.



The hand squeezers like the one Chip posted will wring a lime nearly dry. This is what I want when I am only mixing a few drinks.

And an electric juicer with the rotating top and collection cup/bowl is what I'd recommend if you are squeezing a lot of citrus. Like for a pitcher of lime juice to use at a very busy party. Or when you make a batch of sour mix. These only cost about $10-15 in my neck of the woods, so you can afford to burn it up (I have yet to do this though). Also I see a lot of cool vintage versions out there too.

Do a Google image search for "electric citrus juicer" to see the type I'm refering to.

But again, for most applications, you need the one Chip image linked. And if they offer one for limes and one for lemons, buy the lemon version. They tend to be larger and work for both fruits. Sometimes the lime version is too small even for a large lime.



Ahu

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[ This Message was edited by: KuKuAhu 2006-07-10 09:05 ]


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KuKuAhu
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Joined: Dec 23, 2002
Posts: 567
From: Kahiki, Ohio
Posted: 2006-07-10 09:09 am   Permalink

And to continue the thread, I prefer a "Persian" type of lime above all else. I find key limes to be not juicy enough and ever so slightly bitter. And I think the Persian oil content as mentioned above is a huge plus.

I have encountered some rather "piney" limes before which always confounds me. Last time I bought limes in Hawaii they all had a strange pine taste to the oil. I stopped shaking the shells with the mai tais and it improved the flavor considerably.



Ahu

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[ This Message was edited by: KuKuAhu 2006-07-10 09:11 ]


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GatorRob
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Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1770
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2006-07-10 09:24 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2006-07-10 09:09, KuKuAhu wrote:
I stopped shaking the shells with the mai tais and it improved the flavor considerably.


Oh, that's an interesting point. I never shake the shell, only add it to the drink afterwards. Not sure why or why not. I'll have to try both ways.


 
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Swanky
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Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 4962
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2006-07-10 09:28 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2006-07-10 09:09, KuKuAhu wrote:
... I stopped shaking the shells with the mai tais and it improved the flavor considerably.



Ahu

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[ This Message was edited by: KuKuAhu 2006-07-10 09:11 ]


This is a good point I had not thought of. If you are making the drink like Trader Vic's makes it and dropping the half lime shell in the mix, you may be adding flavors into the drink that just the juice will not account for. Maybe the best way to try the lime juices is to squeeze them and drop the rind in with a bit of water, shake and sip.
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KuKuAhu
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Joined: Dec 23, 2002
Posts: 567
From: Kahiki, Ohio
Posted: 2006-07-10 10:12 am   Permalink

Just to be clear, I always shake the shells with mai tais. I find a mai tai not done this way is not quite as fully scented. That almost floral lime scent is missing without it.


But.. those limes in Poipu were odd tasting, and it was all in the oils.

I tend to drop the shells of all the citrus I use in the drinks I mix. Within reason of course. One half shell is sufficient for each drink, and if a drink contains both lime and lemon shells, I'll only serve the dominant one in the cocktail (unless specified by a recipe).

Orange oil is especially nice. Small oranges work very well for leaving on a cocktail. Or even quarters of a spent shell.




Ahu


 
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thejab
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2986
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2006-07-10 11:00 am   Permalink

Besides the lime's complexion method mentioned by Swanky, to find the juiciest limes, simply compare their weight with your hands. After picking up a few and comparing their weight the heavier ones (due to having more juice) become pretty obvious.

I use the Rival Juice-O-Mat for juicing citrus. It opens fully with the lever moved back 180 degrees, and so it takes one stroke to squeeze a lime. This is the way they are supposed to work. It sounds like yours is broken Swanky, but that Juice King looks like a good one.

I've never tasted different limes side-by-side so this is an interesting comparison. I rarely see key limes around here. I buy most of my limes by the bag from Trader Joe's. They are grown in Mexico but I don't think they are Mexican (or key) limes. They are very dark, smooth, and shiny green which makes me think they are Persian limes, and they are often quite juicy when other limes in the supermarket can be dry and woody.


 
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Unga Bunga
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Joined: Jun 06, 2003
Posts: 5792
From: CaliTikifornia
Posted: 2006-07-10 11:09 am   Permalink

How come we didn't have this course in high school?
Great thread Chip.


 
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