My so-called month of rum: Mai Tai

Boy, this has been the longest “month” ever. My month of trying new rums and rum cocktails began August 18, with a look at the excellent Royal Bermuda Yacht Club cocktail. I explored the Lytton Fizz and the Corn and Oil, and I tested a couple of El Presidente recipes. Along the way, I grew to love the following rums, some of which were new to me:

  • Mount Gay Extra Old
  • Mount Gay Eclipse
  • Cruzan Black Strap (and if you want to try something delicious, get yourself some homemade orgeat syrup, and blend that into an old-fashioned with Cruzan Black Strap and a dash or two of Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters)
  • Myers Platinum
  • Myers Dark
  • Both Tommy Bahama varieties (sent as samples and not used for any of these recipes)

I’ve even gone a bit mad and made my own damn orgeat syrup, using a variation of the method Rick Stutz wrote up here. I bloody-well love the stuff now. I want to mix it into everything; I want to eat it on my cereal or top a steak with it. I want to wash my mustache with it so I can smell it all day. I want to–oh, nevermind.

To go out on a high note, I decided to mix up the possibly most famous tiki drink in the world, the Mai Tai. Better writers than me have already detailed the history of this drink, and you can see an excerpt from one such writer’s work here.

I can’t even improve on Curtis’s recipe: one ounce of Jamaican rum, an ounce of Barbados, orange curacao, lime juice, and orgeat (although I decreased the amount of curacao), so what I will say is which rums I used. The first time around, a couple of weeks ago, I used Myers Dark and Appleton Estate, which of course are both Jamaican rums. Not sure why I went that way, but I did. Last night, however, I used Mount Gay Eclipse and Appleton Estate. It’s hard to say which I prefer: both are delicious.

And behold, the Mai Tai:

Mai Tai

photograph by Jennifer Hess


3 thoughts on “My so-called month of rum: Mai Tai

  1. Oh Mai Tai…possibly my favorite drink. So delicious.

    A few recommendations so that your month of rum can transcend it’s “monthness” and become more of a lifetime obsession hobby like mine:

    1. Instead of Jamaican and Bajan, go with Jamaican and Martinician rums. The drier, more vegetal flavors in the agricoles really help make the drink amazing. Jeff Berry’s Mai Tai recipe that sent me off on a whirlwind romance with the drink used 1 oz of Appleton Estate Extra and 1 oz of Clement VSOP. I’ve made Mai Tais with over 60 different combinations of rums and have yet to find a combination that tops this without crossing over into “You’re freaking crazy” territory (like a Mai Tai using ingredients that cost over $300).

    2. Get your hands on something really funky like Scarlet Ibis, Sea Wynde, or Pusser’s Navy rum and try a combination of that and El Dorado 15 Year Old. It will blow your mind.

    3. You know you’re required by law to now do a post on the Zombie or Navy Grog, right?


    • I wanted to try a rhum agricole in this, but circumstances prevented me from being able to track one down, so I went with rums that were more readily (and cheaply) available. I recognize that the Mai Tai is a work in progress, and I’m looking forward to trying other combos.


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