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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
Loki-Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 05, 2007
Posts: 449
From: Like...The Valley
Posted: 2016-12-09 08:15 am   Permalink

Quote:

I scored some fresh white grapefruit recently and decided to make the Tribute to the Mai Kai K.O. Cooler (July 2015 edition). In addition to the white grapefruit juice I used Havana Club Anejo Blanco (Bacardi), O.V.D. demerara and Hamilton 151.

Wow! What a drink. Very impressed and it has become one of my favorites with this rum / juice combination.


The K.O. Cooler is a favorite of mine too. I've said it before but it deserves repeating. HH is doing a great service, if you haven't read his stuff, do yourself a favor and check it out, and HH...THANK YOU!!!


 
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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1292
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2016-12-17 12:18 pm   Permalink

Mahalo everyone for the kind words. I promise more interesting updates and recipes to come!

New update on the blog: Anyone attending the the 60th anniversary events on Dec. 28 is in for a treat. The "lost cocktails" menu was just announced ...



Here are direct links to our reviews and recipes:

Last Rites
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2011/10/29/mai-kai-cocktail-review-the-classic-last-rites-returns-from-the-grave/

Impatient Virgin
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2012/09/28/lost-cocktails-of-the-mai-kai-uncovering-the-influential-impatient-virgin/

Demerara Float
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2012/09/07/lost-cocktails-of-the-mai-kai-the-classic-demerara-float-rises-again/

Also added is info on the recent Broward County proclamation of "Mai-Kai Day" ...
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2016/12/01/the-mai-kai-turns-60-with-special-history-presentations-celebration/
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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1292
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2016-12-21 10:36 am   Permalink

I've been hinting at something big to reveal, so here we go. Research is still ongoing, but I thought it would be cool to get the word out before the 60th anniversary …

BREAKING COCKTAIL NEWS: Three secret mixes that date back to Don the Beachcomber and Mariano Licudine have returned to The Mai-Kai's bars

In September, managing owner Dave Levy revealed that three of The Mai-Kai's old secret mixes, which were originally created by mixologist Mariano Licudine in the early days of the restaurant based on similar Don the Beachcomber mixes, are back in operation and being featured in multiple cocktails.

Just a bit of background for those who may not know the arcane history of Tiki cocktails: In the 1930s, when Donn Beach (aka Don the Beachcomber) created the template for faux Polynesian tropical cocktails that we all know and love, he put a great deal of effort into keeping the recipes secret. This included putting ingredients in unmarked bottles so his bartenders couldn't take his recipes and use them elsewhere. Licudine worked for Beach as far back as 1939 in Hollywood, Calif., so when he came to The Mai-Kai in 1956 from the Don the Beachcomber in Chicago, he employed a similar system. Remarkably, it's still followed to this day in The Mai-Kai's back bars, which are hidden from view just as Donn Beach did ...


Bartenders working in The Mai-Kai's back service bar in January 2016. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

One of Beach's other innovations, among many, was to feature esoteric syrups and mixes in his cocktails. The recipes to these blends of flavors were typically only known by Beach and a few key barmen. He went as far as to have them made off-site by a third party to avoid having anyone crack the code. They typically had cryptic names such as Don's Mix or Don's Spices #2. We can thank Beachbum Berry for revealing those in Sippin Safari in 2007. The biggest revelation was Don's Mix, a key ingredient in the legendary Zombie. The real original recipe remained secret for more than 70 years until Berry was able to determine that it included Don'x Mix, a blend of 2 parts grapefruit juice and 1 part Don's Spices #4. Beach had ingeniously double-coded that mix, but Berry was able to determine that #4 was actually cinnamon syrup. The rest is history, and the original Zombie featuring Don's Mix is now served at bars across the globe.

Don's Spices #2, is also a popular mix, combining equal parts vanilla syrup and pimento liqueur, as published in Sippin' Safari. In trying to figure out The Mai-Kai's recipes over the years, I came to the conclusion that some variation of Don's Spices #2 (a sweeter version of pimento dram) is probably used in such iconic drinks as the Black Magic, Special Planters Punch, Yeoman's Grog, and Deep Sea Diver. I also assumed that Don'x Mix was employed in the Zombie and other classic drinks. But this assumption was debunked by general manager Kern Mattei back in June 2015 and I've been updating the many drinks that I assumed featured cinnamon. Most are done, but a few (Black Magic, Mutiny, The Hukilau, Kona Coffee Grog, Hot Buttered Rum) remain and will be updated in due time. It's unclear if Licudine ever used cinnamon or his own version of Don's Mix, so we don't know the history. But Levy is known to not like cinnamon syrup, and it has been banished during his tenure, which began in 1989 when his stepfather Bob Thornton passed the torch.


An 1958 ad featuring Mariano Licudine

As keeper of The Mai-Kai's secret recipes, Levy is also by proxy the keeper of Don the Beachcomber's secret mixes. Or at least the Thornton-Licudine version of them. So it was very exciting news to hear of the return of not one but three apparently long-dormant mixes. Levy said that missing ingredients were recently acquired, and an expert was retained, to help him bring back versions of the mixes that may not be 100% true to the originals, but taste very similar. According to Levy, only he and his source know exactly what's in these exotic mixes.

According to Berry in Sippin' Safari (due for its 10th anniversary re-release next year), Donn's mixes were made secretly by the long-defunct Astra Company in California. Tim "Swanky" Glazner, author of Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant, has revealed that The Mai-Kai used the same source. Levy told me that The Mai-Kai's secret mixes have only been changed twice. Once, I assume, was when the Astra Company went out of business. The other, presumably, is this recent update. It's unclear how long these mixes have been sidelined. I don't recall any of the drinks that I'll soon reveal tasting the way they do now at any point over the past 10 years.


Unmarked bottles in The Mai-Kai's back service bar spotted in January 2016. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

So enough buildup and suspense. Please welcome back secret mixes #4, #5 and #7 to The Mai-Kai. So what's in them, and what drinks feature them, you may ask. Not so fast. First, a little background about each, and details on what I know so far. Research is still ongoing, so you'll have to be patient. Also, it's worth noting that we're not claiming to have cracked any codes. Mssrs. Levy and Mattei are happy to throw me a few clues, answer a few questions and (if I'm lucky) confirm which drinks are affected. It's up to me to attempt to recreate the flavors.

#4 - No relation to Don's Spices #4, of course. It does have lineage that can be traced back to Donn Beach. It's also mentioned in Swanky's book on pages 14, 28, 138 and 141. I've confirmed its presence in just one cocktail so far, so we're hoping to determine if it's in any others before I can make an accurate guess on what it may include. But I think I may have a good lead.

#5 - This is a mysterious one. I don't think I've seen any references to a Don the Beachcomber mix by this name. It's used in only two cocktails at The Mai-Kai, both on the sweet side but with different flavor profiles. I need to do some more research on this as well.

#7 - This is the one that will be of most interest. It's featured in five strong and one mild cocktail, and I've nailed down an approximation of the flavor profile. I'm in the process of updating all the recipes and hope to post all the updates by the 28th, in time for the 60th anniversary. I believe this can be traced directly back to Don the Beachcomber since he used something called #7 in his version of at least two of the same drinks. It's referred to on pages 14, 16, 31 and 138 of Swanky's book, plus page 166 of Sippin' Safari. It's unclear, however, how close the current #7 is to either Don's mix or Licudine's previous versions. Levy tells us his flavor expert came as close as he could, but it's not exactly the same as it used to be. When I told him what was in my attempt at a tribute, he pooh-poohed. But Mattei later told me that while my version is different, the flavor should come close.

First up, Bora Bora, aka Don the Beachcomber's Donga Punch ...


The Bora Bora in The Molokai bar in October 2016, shortly after receiving an upgrade with the inclusion of Mariano’s Mix #7. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2011/08/31/mai-kai-cocktail-review-bora-bora-is-not-for-the-timid/

There's now a third version of the tribute recipe featuring #7 ...



http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2011/08/31/mai-kai-cocktail-review-bora-bora-is-not-for-the-timid/#tribute

It includes details on how to make the mix, plus tasting notes and all the previous recipes for reference. There's no guarantee #7 will stay in service, but it certainly gives Bora Bora an extra kick of flavor.

Stay tuned for updates on the other drinks now featuring this classic ingredient returning from the grave to spice up our beloved cocktails.

[ This Message was edited by: Hurricane Hayward 2016-12-21 23:45 ]


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mikehooker
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Jul 17, 2014
Posts: 794
From: Austin
Posted: 2016-12-21 3:00 pm   Permalink

Amazing work as usual. I may have had the Bora Bora at my wedding but I don't recall it (I was primarily consuming Swizzles for like 8 hours that day before deciding to explore the menu further) and it's not one I've attempted at home. Looking forward to trying the new recipe.

Any idea the life of Fee Bros Falernum? I stopped using my bottle maybe a year or so ago when I started making my own. It doesn't look like it's turned.


 
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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1292
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2016-12-21 4:12 pm   Permalink

Mahalo Mike!

Not sure about the shelf life of Fees falernum but it's pretty long. I've had bottles last a good 6-8 months, though it's usually better when it's fresher. We recently did a falernum taste-off. I'll have to post the results. I know people knock it, but I think it came out on top.

Quote:

On 2016-12-21 15:00, mikehooker wrote:
Amazing work as usual. I may have had the Bora Bora at my wedding but I don't recall it (I was primarily consuming Swizzles for like 8 hours that day before deciding to explore the menu further) and it's not one I've attempted at home. Looking forward to trying the new recipe.

Any idea the life of Fee Bros Falernum? I stopped using my bottle maybe a year or so ago when I started making my own. It doesn't look like it's turned.



 
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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1292
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2016-12-23 11:04 pm   Permalink

Moving right along to the next cocktail updated to feature Mariano's Mix # 7 ... the Zombie



http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2011/11/01/mai-kai-cocktail-review-the-theory-of-evolution-of-the-zombie/#update

The update includes some more background on Donn Beach and Mariano Licudine, including some info gleaned from Swanky's "Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant." The book refers to something known as "Don’s Spices #7" as being "crucial to the Zombie and other signature cocktails." Could The Mai-Kai's Zombie now be even closer to Beach's original?

The updated recipe (v.3.0) is actually now the fourth version of the tribute ...



http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2011/11/01/mai-kai-cocktail-review-the-theory-of-evolution-of-the-zombie/#tribute

In addition to #7, there were quite a few other tweaks: Lime juice was increased and lemon juice was eliminated. Passion fruit syrup was reduced and Pernod was dropped since #7 now provides both sweet and anise flavors. Gold rum was replaced with white rum, and the 151 rum was increased from 1/2 to 3/4 ounce.

The extra flavor turns this already outstanding cocktail up another notch.


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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1292
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2016-12-24 10:23 am   Permalink

As of Dec. 24, the special presentations on Dec. 28 are sold out. To get on the waiting list in the event of a cancellation, email pia@maikai.com. If you miss out, you can still attend the book signing afterward and enjoy the lost cocktails in The Molokai. Early happy hour starts at 3:30. Mele Kalikimaka!

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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1292
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2017-01-14 11:36 pm   Permalink

The long-overdue recap of the 60th anniversary festivities and related imbibing ...



On Tuesday night (Dec. 27), some special guests arrived ...


Sven Kirsten and Christie "Tiki Kiliki" White

We made sure to take advantage of the new photo op created by Will Anders ...

Click here for more on Hiroa Nui:
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2016/12/28/new-giant-carved-tiki-added-to-the-mai-kais-outdoor-garden-in-time-for-60th-anniversary/

On Wednesday, we were back at The Mai-Kai bright and early for the 60th Anniversary Symposia Series & Customer Celebration Party. The first thing on our agenda, naturally, was the lost cocktails menu ...

Front:


Back:


We sampled the Impatient Virgin while waiting for Sven's symposium ...


Tiki Kiliki introduced Sven, who gave us a fascinating look at the iconic cannibal carvings:


I then had the honor of introducing Tim "Swanky" Glazner ...


Swanky spent some time explaining the intricate connection between The Molokai bar and the 1962 film "Mutiny on the Bounty," which isn't included in his book ...


Mahalo to Nik Satterfield for the excellent A/V support ...


It was then time to try the other lost cocktails, the Demerara Float and Last Rites ...


Along with surf guitarist Skinny Jimmy Stingray, who has great taste in T-shirts ...


Our evening concluded with dinner and the debut of the 2017 show from the Polynesian Islander Revue ...






As Rose Marie performed all night in The Molokai ...


Hiroa Nui seemed to be pleased ...


Lots more photos posted on the main Mai-Kai thread ...
http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=10334&forum=2&start=last&368

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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1292
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2017-01-14 11:56 pm   Permalink

Next up, a re-examination of the lost cocktails ...

The Demerara Float was exactly as we remembered it from Swanky's book release party in September, so no need to elaborate. Here's the full back-story, reviews and recipes:
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2012/09/07/lost-cocktails-of-the-mai-kai-the-classic-demerara-float-rises-again/

The Impatient Virgin, which hasn't been served since The Hukilau 2013, also stuck close to the same recipe. It's worth noting that this classic cocktail was served strained into a martini glass this time around, which is similar to its original configuration. So I revisited the tribute recipe to confirm its accuracy ...


http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2012/09/28/lost-cocktails-of-the-mai-kai-uncovering-the-influential-impatient-virgin/

The one surprise of the trio was Last Rites, which also made its last official appearance in June 2013. I had the opportunity to taste it again in 2014, but there was a distinctive difference this time around. A burst of rich molasses flavor that had me perplexed. Other people I asked tasted the same flavor, which we originally thought was a molasses syrup. But there was no historical precedent for that particular ingredient, so I was left scratching my head until I talked to owner Dave Levy. He revealed the secret: Not a syrup, but a rum: Of course, it's Cruzan Blackstrap. He said they added this distinctive spirit to spice up the rum blend, and indeed it does that. I like both versions, which are now both featured as tribute recipes ...


http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2011/10/29/mai-kai-cocktail-review-the-classic-last-rites-returns-from-the-grave/

Okole maluna!


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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1292
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2017-01-15 12:04 am   Permalink

Following the 60th anniversary party, there were a few more nights of revelry as 2016 wound to a close. On Friday, Skinny Jimmy welcomed Sven and I (plus our significant others) to his Tikified rehearsal space ...



Which, of course, included some Tiki mixology ...



And guitar-slinging ...



Then, on New Year's Eve, we were back at The Mai-Kai, where we tipped back a few Yeoman's Grogs ...


And rang in 2017 ...


Okole maluna and happy new year!
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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1292
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2017-01-19 6:48 pm   Permalink

The Black Magic makes another appearance at Hidden Harbor in Pittsburgh ...



 
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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 1292
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 21 days ago; 12:07 am   Permalink

Had a Black Magic while relaxing tonight in The Molokai ...



... then went home and continued to tweak the tribute recipe. Getting close to a full update.




 
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