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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
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 656
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2014-08-02 01:35 am   Permalink

Indeed, fresh grapefruit is the way to go.

It's also interesting to note that the Floridita is the only mild drink that contains grapefruit. And there's only one medium (Mara-Amu). But eight drinks on the strong menu use the tart fruit to balance the strong rums, another throwback to Don the Beachcomber.


 
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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 656
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2014-08-18 12:45 am   Permalink

A couple special events last week spurred a few updates, one minor and one major:



It wouldn't be a proper Shark Week without a Shark Bite, so I freshened up the review with a new photo and the new menu art:
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2011/08/17/mai-kai-cocktail-review-what-makes-the-shark-bite-so-jawesome/

I wanted to do something special for National Rum Day, so I rolled out a new tribute recipe for the Rum Julep, which has been in the works for quite a while ...



http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2011/10/14/mai-kai-cocktail-review-the-only-rum-julep-youll-ever-need-to-know/

I took the opportunity to analyze Mariano Licudine's re-imagining of Donn Beach's original, coming to the conclusion that he was a genius in creating a superior drink with lesser rums by employing some of his secret weapons .... rich honey mix, flavorful juices and yet another appearance of Don's Spices #2 (I think). It's a very rich and spicy drink, the allspice and honey playing off the rums perfectly. One of my favorites from the medium side of the menu.

This also marks a milestone: the 90th Mai-Kai related recipe now listed on the blog. This includes 7 current authentic recipes, 3 retired authentic recipes, 33 ancestor recipes for current drinks, 8 ancestor recipes for retired drinks, 29 tribute recipes for current drinks, and 10 tribute recipes for retired drinks.
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/mai-kai-cocktail-guide/mai-kai-cocktail-recipes/

Still to come: Two more ancestor recipes from "Potions of the Caribbean," plus who knows, maybe a few more tribute recipes.

Okole maluna!
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Featuring The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide


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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 656
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 29 days ago; 12:52 pm   Permalink

As Ron Burgundy once said, "Boy, that escalated quickly." There was a flurry of activity on The Atomic Grog involving Mai-Kai cocktails over the past week. I'll try to recap everything here. I was already working on several new ancestor recipes, the last two I gleaned from "Potions of the Caribbean," when word came down of a special event set for Saturday featuring a special flight of cocktails from the book.

First up, the lost classic Last Rites, which was originally posted in October 2011. But this is one cocktail from the graveyard that never seems to die. Beachbum Berry's "Sippin’ Safari" revealed an authentic recipe from Mariano Licudine, but when the drink was resurrected for The Mai-Kai's annual Hulaween party in October 2012, it was noticeably different. A tribute recipe was then added, slightly tweaked as we sampled the Last Rites a few more times over the past few years.

Then, before "Potions" even came off the press, the Bum told me, "You know, the Last Rites is based on Donn's Puka-Puka Punch." Said I, in my best Johnny Carson impression: "I did not know that." Fast forward to today, and the Last Rites review now includes ancestor, original and tribute recipes with the full backstory:


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

One interesting thing to note in the Puka-Puka Punch recipe is Berry's shortcut for making small batches of simple syrup via "cold process" by simply hard shaking organic sugar with room-temperature distilled water. He says it yields a "crisper syrup with a lighter density, one that plays better in cocktails than a ‘cooked’ syrup."

The next review was a milestone, the 12th and final "lost cocktail" to be reviewed. See the full list:
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2012/06/05/mai-kai-cocktail-guide-discover-a-fruitful-and-delicious-tropical-drink-family-tree/#retired

The ancestor recipe for the Martinique Cocktail published in "Potions" also brings the grand total of Mai-Kai recipes (including ancestors, originals and tributes) up to 92. Will there be more? Undoubtedly. I'm kicking around ideas for a few more tribute recipes, plus I've got at least one more ancestor recipe in my sights. It would be nice to hit 100 some day.

The Martinique Cocktail, aka Island of Martinique Cocktail, is an interesting story ...

http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2014/09/19/lost-cocktails-of-the-mai-kai-take-a-journey-to-the-exotic-island-of-martinique/

Don the Beachcomber menus apparently used both names over the years, and the drink likely changed too (as Donn was always tinkering). The version published in "Potions" (circa 1948) also includes the first reference I've seen to "Don’s honey," essentially the rich 2:1 honey mix that I'm convinced The Mai-Kai has always used. I also reiterate my preference for Fee Brothers falernum, based on Berry's discussion in the book that it most closely resembles the mid-century A.V. Stansfeld brand. Also included is some discussion of the new debate on the use of agricole rhum in the early days.

Mai-Kai GM Kern Mattei came up with the idea for a flight of cocktails from "Potions" while reading the book and mixing up some of the classics at home. Later, when the Gumbo Limbo Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Moai approached him about hosting one of their charity events and serving some special drinks, he knew what he wanted to do. But it was a challenge narrowing the field down to a flight of three. The lineup was kept a secret while Mattei worked with his bar to fine-tune the drinks. They made an attempt to not duplicate the flavor or style of any existing Mai-Kai cocktail, and the flight was designed to be enjoyed in a particular order, from mild to strong.

Here's the menu:


For cocktail geeks, it was a unique experience to hang out in The Mai-Kai drinking cocktails from Trader Vic's and the Tiki Ti. All were very well crafted, with my favorite being Ray Buhen's Virgin Island Kula, which I also rated highly after making it at home in the wake of the book's release. More of a surprise was Trader Vic's Myrtle Bank Punch, which I considered much inferior to the Don the Beachcomber version when I compared them side-by-side. They were the first drinks I made from the book, and I posted a photo on the "Potions" thread back in December 2013:
http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?mode=viewtopic&topic=46323&forum=10&start=30

The Mai-Kai was able to smooth out the very strong drink's rough edges and make it much more balanced. And it was a good sign that The Mai-Kai's supply of Lemon Hart 151 is still apparently robust enough for them to include it in the flight. The one drink I had not previously tasted, the Queen’s Park Hotel Super Cocktail, was the least appealing of the three but still worthy of inclusion.


The Virgin Island Kula, served at The Mai-Kai on Sept. 20, 2014.

My latest blog post includes more photos, recap and detailed review of all the cocktails:
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2014/09/20/special-event-at-the-mai-kai-takes-guests-on-a-flight-back-to-classic-potions-of-the-caribbean/
Plus, if you don't have the book, I've included the Virgin Island Kula recipe.

Okole maluna!


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Hurricane Hayward
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 07, 2008
Posts: 656
From: 16 miles from The Mai-Kai
Posted: 2 days ago; 12:37 am   Permalink

The inevitable has happened: I'm sorry to report that Lemon Hart 151 rum is being phased out from Mai-Kai cocktail recipes just 2 1/2 years after its triumphant return. While there's some speculation that U.S. distribution may resume by the middle of next year, The Mai-Kai unfortunately did not have a deep enough stockpile to hold out for that long. They had stocked up after the announcement in May of the distribution interruption, but GM Kern Mattei tells me that they have been going through a case every month. Check out this thread for the back-story and ongoing news on the status of the revered rum brand:
http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?mode=viewtopic&topic=47455&forum=10&start=15

This will affect The Mai-Kai's cocktail recipes on two levels. First, there are the many drinks that for the past 2 1/2 years have been featuring an 80-proof Lemon Hart rum that was blended in-house from the 151 rum. I've been making a similar blend at home, and the results are very close to the old 80-proof Lemon Hart that's even harder to find than the 151. Mattei says that when the current supply of 80-proof Lemon Hart runs out, which should happen soon, they will be switching to another Demerara rum, El Dorado's Original Dark. While not as highly touted as some of El Dorado's aged rums, the dark rum was nevertheless favored by The Mai-Kai in its cocktails. I'm told that most of the cask aged rums were considered too sweet. Indeed, the Original Dark lacks the added sugar of some of its aged counterparts, and its pungency will most likely be a better fit in cocktails that already have enough sweetness.

I went ahead and tried El Dorado Original Dark in several of the drinks that have been featuring 80-proof Lemon Hart: The S.O.S. (pictured below) and Oh So Deadly.


The result? No need to send out a distress signal over this S.O.S. There seemed to be very little difference in taste, and the Oh So Deadly also suffered no loss in quality. Since both are Demerara rums used in small quantities to supplement many other flavors, I'm confident that this switch will be very little cause for alarm. I plan to sample all the other cocktails that previously contained Lemon Hart 80, both at home and at the bar (in the interest of quality assurance, of course). If anyone else wants to conduct taste tests and weigh in, please post your comments below. I'll be updating all the reviews as time permits. Besides the S.O.S. and Oh So Deadly, the drinks in question are: Special Planters Punch, Sidewinder’s Fang, Yeoman’s Grog, K.O. Cooler, and Bora Bora.

The bigger question is the status of the handful of cocktails that depend on the fiery flavor of the 151 rum: the Zombie, 151 Swizzle, Jet Pilot, and Shrunken Skull. As you probably guessed from the photo above, the new rum in those drinks is Goslings Black Seal 151, which is very dark and flavorful like Lemon Hart but produced in Bermuda instead of Guyana. I'm sure we'll all be examining these drinks closely. Three years ago, and for many years before, they were just as special without Demerara rum entirely. I expect that they'll continue the same level of excellence.

And while admittedly nothing can replace Lemon Hart 151, I have confidence in The Mai-Kai in choosing the correct rums for its cocktails. So feel free to let me know what you think of the changes, and look for more updates here and on the blog.

FYI, here's a link back to my coverage of Lemon Hart's return, with links to all the recipes:
http://www.slammie.com/atomicgrog/blog/2012/05/08/rums-of-the-mai-kai-legendary-lemon-hart-returns-to-the-promised-land/

Okole maluna!

_________________
The official blog of The Hukilau

Featuring The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide


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