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Tiki Central Forums Tiki Drinks and Food When is a Mai Tai not a Mai Tai?
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When is a Mai Tai not a Mai Tai?
arriano
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2006
Posts: 1237
From: Dog Patch - San Diego
Posted: 2007-05-11 3:56 pm   Permalink

Thought Id start off a little discussion about when does a change to a cocktail recipe lead to a different cocktail? In other words, how much of a change to a cocktail recipe should be allowed before youve created what should be considered a different cocktail?

Certainly, it may be in the eyes of the beholder. But I think most people will agree that if you make a margarita with grand marnier or with triple sec, its still a margarita. But what if you, say, make a drink that calls for peach brandy, but use apricot brandy instead? Both are derived from fruits come from the same family, but are still different fruits. Yet, Ive seen lemon juice swapped for lime juice (or vice versa) without people thinking theyve invented a new drink.

So I ask, how far can you deviate from a drink recipe, and still call it by the name of the original recipe? Do any of you have your own personal standards that you go by?


 
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GentleHangman
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Jun 23, 2006
Posts: 432
From: Stuart, Florida
Posted: 2007-05-12 06:31 am   Permalink

You know, that's a very interesting question.
When I first joined TC I posted a recipe for a "Mai Tai" that contained orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine, etc. and was thoroughly trounced and sent directly to 'Mai Tai Hell' by several member (all in good fun, of course) because what I had posted was NOT a Mai Tai. As I continued with this group and went back through the posted archives . . . I began to understand their point dealing with the sanctity(sp?) of an original or historic drink recipe. I now fully respect that concept and embrace it. Now for me at least, if a Mai Tai is made with ANYTHING other than rum, orange curacao, orgeat, simple syrup and fresh lime juice then it's simply NOT a Mai Tai. That's my opinion. If someone wants to add or subtract ingredients then they should give the drink a new name or at least precede it's name with "Version of . . . ".
Over the last several months I've read posts and discussions regarding the Mai Tais served at various well-known establishments all of whom seem to have their own variatin of the drink and it appears to be generally accepted as 'ok'.
You can pretty much enter any well-known drink name on any of the bar-tending web sites and get several different recipes for the same drink. Unless you're an expert how do you know which one is the original? And more importantly, does it matter? You're going to pick the one that appeals to you or contains ingredients that you already have or know you can get.
So, I guess the real question here is: "What's in a name?"
This I would say separates the 'Purists" from . . . . well . . . everyone else!
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johnman
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 18, 2005
Posts: 452
From: RI
Posted: 2007-05-12 07:11 am   Permalink

On some other cocktails there's sure to be a little more leeway on what ingredients are acceptable. When it comes to the Mai Tai, we're talking about the cornerstone drink for the Tiki community. Making it something special and not to be messed with.

Being from the northeastern part of the US, I've learned to tolerate some deviance in the recipe whenever I head to one of our few remaining tiki spots. There are no Tiki Ti's or Forbidden Islands around here so you must learn to adapt. I actually went to a restaurant in Coventry, RI two weeks ago named Mai Tai and expected something close when I ordered their Mai Tai. HAHAHA - Out came a red concoction served in a wine glass. My guess it was pineapple, grenadine and maybe an ounce of Bacardi. This falls outside the level of my regional tolerance so my standards are not that low. Actually to the average person around here that would be considered a Mai Tai.

When it comes to making my own or consuming one made by one of the members of the local tiki community, the expectations are set back to the purist levels. I'm happy to say PappyTheSailor and Bargoyle never disappoint when they're mixing.

Regarding swapping some ingredients for others - I'm all for it. Just don't call it simply a Mai Tai. If it still contains the majority of the major ingredients (at a minimum lime, rum and orgeat IMHO) then just call it "something"'s Mai Tai or some other variant. One of my favorite variants is the Surf Room Mai Tai. That thing contains all of the major juices (orange/pineapple/lime<-essential/lemon), 3 rums, orgeat, organge curacau and sugar syrup. So there we have a nie Mai Tai base with more stuff layered on top. And nothing that completely blows the Mai Tai taste out to left field.


 
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cheekytiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 09, 2004
Posts: 1091
From: The Haole Hut, London, UK
Posted: 2007-05-12 08:22 am   Permalink

Is Don the Beachcombers recipe a Mai Tai?
The ingredients differ from Vics although the basics are the same.


 
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54 house of bamboo
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Sep 28, 2006
Posts: 292
From: Cambridge UK
Posted: 2007-05-12 09:25 am   Permalink

Interesting question, cheekytiki. I'm looking forward to the London Luau when I can (again) sample both recipes side by side at Trailer Happiness to try and answer that question! Last year's investigation did not reach a definitive conclusion...

 
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DemeraraDrinker
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Mar 28, 2007
Posts: 92
From: Kansas City
Posted: 2007-05-12 10:11 am   Permalink

I know its not a Mai Tai when I ask the waitress if it has Orgeat in it and she looks at me like I'm speaking French.
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GentleHangman
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Jun 23, 2006
Posts: 432
From: Stuart, Florida
Posted: 2007-05-12 11:42 am   Permalink

That may not be entirely her fault . . . you were . . .
orgeat (rzh)
n.
A sweet flavoring of orange and almond used in cocktails and food.
[French, from Old French, from Old Provenal orjat, from ordj, orge, barley, from Latin hordeum.]

Cheekytiki: If you are referring to the Mai Tai recipe in "Hawaii Tropical Rum Drinks & Cuisine by Don the Beachcomber" by Arnold Bitner & Phoebe Beach
which is:
1 1/2 ounces Myers's Plantation Rum
1 ounce Cuban Rum
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
1/4 Falernum
1/2 ounce Cointreau
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 dash Pernod
1 cup cracked ice
Slice squeezed lime, for garnish
Pineapple spear, for garnish
Mint sprig, for garnish

The above sounds like a vary interesting and intoxicating drink, but as far as I'm concerned it's NOT a Mai Tai.
In my opinion Don The Beachcomber should have come up with an original name for his original drink.
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[ This Message was edited by: GentleHangman 2007-05-12 12:10 ]

[ This Message was edited by: GentleHangman 2007-05-12 12:20 ]


 
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Chip and Andy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 13, 2004
Posts: 2124
From: Corner table, Molokai Lounge, Mai-Kai.
Posted: 2007-05-13 1:14 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2007-05-11 15:56, arriano wrote:
...So I ask, how far can you deviate from a drink recipe, and still call it by the name of the original recipe? Do any of you have your own personal standards that you go by?




Well, there are many drinkers here with many opinions, and all of them are wrong. And all of them are right. And the fun is in trying every new suggestion to see if it is indeed worthy of adding to your own menu of drinks.

I would offer the following:

If you change a major component of the recipe, you have changed the recipe to something new (i.e.. switch vodka for tequila).

If you change one or two minor components of the recipe like swapping lemon for lime or Cointreau for Curaco, you have changed the recipe enough to alter the name so as to avoid confusion (i.e. Pink-Slip Mai-Tai, Arriano's Mai-Tai).

If you are adding or subtracting to the recipe, the more you add the more you need to change the name. If you are adding juices to your Mai-Tai, you should call them Hawaiian or Island-Style. If you are adding lots of juices and floaters and flaming garnishes, you really need to change the name and make it something worthy of all of the extra work you are putting into the recipe.

Now, having said all of that, I offer these rules for your consideration only when dealing with 'those-who-know.'

If you invite your boss or neighbor over for drinks and they start to regale you with tales of this great drink they had in the islands that was made from fresh pineapple and etc. and more and more etc... and I think the called it a Mai-Tai, smile knowingly and go and get the hurricane glasses from the back of the bar and crack open that can of pineapple juice left over from the last luau....
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martiki
Official Mixologist

Joined: Mar 29, 2002
Posts: 3058
From: http://www.smugglerscovesf.com
Posted: 2007-05-13 6:07 pm   Permalink

Ask Trader Vic's:

Mai Tai with Bourbon: Honi Honi
Mai Tai with light rum: Menehune Juice
Mai Tai with more rum and a cucumber: Suffering Bastard
Mai Tai with Vodka: Vodka Mai Tai


 
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DJ HawaiianShirt
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 04, 2006
Posts: 148
From: NoVA, DC
Posted: 2007-05-14 03:47 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2007-05-12 10:11, DemeraraDrinker wrote:
I know its not a Mai Tai when I ask the waitress if it has Orgeat in it and she looks at me like I'm speaking French.





Hmm, I dunno about that... While I may trust bartenders(and that's rare. sometimes it's some college student with a "Top 100 cocktails" booklet in his back pocket), I in no way trust the waiting staff to know anything about cocktails. While they may know terms like "neat", "on the rocks", and "twist", there are *so* many spirits, syrups, and varietals out there that I'll usually go straight to a bar to order something/ask questions.

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The Gnomon
Grand Member (7 years)  

Joined: May 01, 2007
Posts: 1289
From: MD-DC-VA
Posted: 2007-05-14 09:21 am   Permalink

Don't this sound familiar?

Quote:

I was at the service bar in my Oakland restaurant. I took down a bottle of 17-year-old rum. It was J. Wray Nephew from Jamaica; surprisingly golden in color, medium bodied, but with the rich pungent flavor particular to the Jamaican blends. The flavor of this great rum wasn't meant to be overpowered with heavy additions of fruit juices and flavorings. I took a fresh lime, added some orange curacao from Holland, a dash of Rock Candy Syrup, and a dollop of French Orgeat, for its subtle almond flavor. A generous amount of shaved ice and vigorous shaking by hand produced the marriage I was after. Half the lime shell went in for color ... I stuck in a branch of fresh mint and gave two of them to Ham and Carrie Guild, friends from Tahiti, who were there that night. Carrie took one sip and said, "Mai Tai - Roa Ae". In Tahitian this means "Out of This World - The Best". Well, that was that. I named the drink "Mai Tai".



Before long those silly folks at J. Wray seemed to undergo a bit of quality lack of control, which prompted Jules (as I like to call him) to act in desperation. The Trader's people pick up the tale...

Quote:

The rum which motivated the creation of the Mai Tai was a fine, golden, medium-bodied Jamaican from Kingston. Trader Vic added fresh lime juice, flavored and sweetened it with Orange Curacao from Holland and French Orgeat with its subtle flavor of almond. The drink chilled nicely with a considerable amount of shaved ice so a large 15-ounce glass was selected to compliment the cooling and generous quality of the Mai Tai.

The success of the Mai Tai and its acceptance soon caused the 17-year-old rum to become unavailable, so it was substituted with the same fine rum with 15 years aging which maintained the outstanding quality.

[...]

During the early 1950's Trader Vic took the Mai Tai to Honolulu while creating drinks for the Matson Line Hotels. He introduced ten exotic drinks in the Royal Hawaiian's bar. The Mai Tai caught on and within 30 days everyone had forgotten the other nine. The supply of 15-year-old rum was becoming less than dependable so several other Caribbean products were tested for the same high qualities of flavor. Red Heart and Coruba were selected to be used in equal quantities along with the original 15-year-old to stretch the supply and maintain the character of the Mai Tai.

A few years earlier the supply of quality French Orgeat had also become uncertain so Henry Smith, who produced vitamins for the Galen Company in Oakland, collaborated with Trader Vic to produce and bottle his own Orgeat.

The mid 1950's signaled the end of a dependable supply of the 15-year-old J. Wray Nephew Rum. This fact as well as problems with consistent quality in the other Jamaican London Dock Rums caused Trader Vic to make private arrangements, in the interest of high quality, to blend and bottle a Jamaican rum under his own label and control. Consistent quality was maintained in both a 15- and 8-year aging. This rum, though excellent, didn't exactly match the end flavor of the original 17-year old product. This desired nutty and snappy flavor was added by the use of a Martinique rum. During this period Trader Vic had also changed the original Orange Curacao to one produced by Bols which was more to his liking. The popularity of the Mai Tai demanded that production on the bars be streamlined. Each individual bar was instructed to pre-mix the Curacao, Orgeat and Rock Candy Syrup in appropriate amounts.



Even the Originator was forced to alter ("adjust") the recipe (in 1951, 1956, and 1964), yet it still remained a Mai Tai. Most of us probably wonder wistfully about the 1944 Mai Tai, but many of us make our own orgeat, we make our own rock candy syrup, we meticulaously hand select our limes and mint sprigs, we tote around our private stock of Appleton Estate and other Carribbean rums, and we forge on trying to replicate the alchemy that is worthy of the expression, "Maita'i roa!"

One might postulate that the 1944 Mai Tai was the only true Mai Tai. If someone else had messed with the recipe, the changes might be more difficult to accept. But considering the fact the the Trader himself had to "adjust" the recipe three times over the course of 20 years, it's clear that the concoction is open to some practical variances, especially, when driven by the availability of ingredients.

I believe in his first adjustment, Jules dropped De Kuyper in favor of Bols Orange Curacao. I don't know about then, but I find that the Bols Curacao of today is much better than today's De Kuyper. That change alone I would consider to be an "improvement" over the 1944.

With so many Mai Tai fanatics, is it possible that some of us might have improved upon it ourselves? If we have, it will likely be in the areas of the choice of rum, the recipe of the orgeat, the recipe of the rock candy syrup, the quantities of each, and perhaps, the ideal number of shakes in the shaved ice.

Does anyone wonder why the formula calls for rock candy syrup rather than simple syrup? They are related and a lot of people treat them as if they were the same, but they're not. Simple syrup is merely a saturated solution, whereas rock candy syrup is supersaturated. The more supersaturated the rock candy syrup is, the more unstable it is. The batches I make are so unstable, you just have to look at them funny and rock candy crystals begin forming. Both the Curacao and the orgeat are largely saturated syrup solutions. If you, say, wanted to supersaturate the Curacao and the orgeat for some magical reason, without ruining either in the process, mixing them with a supersaturated syrup would be the way to go. Enough said.

As for "variations" on the Mai Tai, I don't think they have to be called Mai Tai in any way, nor should they be. I have a handful fo such creations. They're definitely Mai Tai progeny, direct descendants, but they have their own names.

What is NOT a Mai Tai? Just about every "Mai Tai" I order wherever I go. If you want something done right these days...



[ This Message was edited by: The Gnomon 2007-05-14 09:24 ]


 
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GentleHangman
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Jun 23, 2006
Posts: 432
From: Stuart, Florida
Posted: 2007-05-14 1:43 pm   Permalink

All of the above is true and correct however, for all the "adjustments" made by the TV people through the years the formula basically remained the same:
quality rum(s)
Orange Curacao
Orgeat syrup
Rock Candy syrup
juice of one fresh lime

Nothing was added or subtracted; brand names of the various ingredients may have changed or been "adjusted", but not the essential ingredients themselves . . . so the "Mai Tai" remained a "Mai Tai".

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kingdomwinds
Member

Joined: May 20, 2007
Posts: 9
Posted: 2007-05-21 7:25 pm   Permalink

How would a mai tai taste if rockcandy syrup was not mixed in?

 
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GentleHangman
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Jun 23, 2006
Posts: 432
From: Stuart, Florida
Posted: 2007-05-22 02:34 am   Permalink

I've made Mai Tai's with TV's Rock Candy Syrup, and with plain Simple Syrup and since the amount is only 1/4 oz I honestly can't tell the difference. To my palate, the faint vanilla flavor is lost - not the case however with the same amount of Orgeat. And, if you eliminate the Rock Candy/Simple Syrup and increase the Orgeat, you have a very different tasting drink as the almond flavor becomes more prominent. I will say however, I prefer to make my own "Rock Candy Syrup" using natural cane sugar rather than use TV's version.
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I bet you feel more like you do now now than you did when you came in.

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kingdomwinds
Member

Joined: May 20, 2007
Posts: 9
Posted: 2007-05-22 07:05 am   Permalink

I got most of the ingredients for a mai tai but I cannot find orgeat syrup in my area. The liquor store back at home has it but I don't leave campus till tomorrow. I can't wait to make my first mai tai.

[ This Message was edited by: kingdomwinds 2007-05-22 07:06 ]


 
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