The origins surrounding many of the world’s most celebrated cocktails are lost to history, becoming the subject of myths and legends, and with ingredients changing to adapt to whatever yarn is being spun. But there are other cocktails that have much better known histories, with precise ingredients documented.
One such classic cocktail that we’re rather keen on is the Mai Tai, and we were reminded of its rum and orange majesty after we received a gift from the Appleton Estate Rum club that included a pre-made cocktail, along with instructions on how to make our own (see below).
Appleton should know better than most how a Mai Tai is made, because it was originally created to show off one of their 17 year old rums which, at the time, went under the name J. Wray & Nephew Rum.
According to the story in our cocktail club notes, the original Mai Tai was created in 1944 by bartender Victor Bergeron, who was also known as Trader Vic’s. He wanted to mix up a cocktail for a friend from Tahiti, with the 17 year old rum at its heart. Upon sipping the drink, his friend exclaimed “Maitai roe ae!”, which translates as “Out of this world – the best!”. And thus, the Mai Tai was born.
Those notes don’t mention Trader Vic’s subsequent feud with serial cocktail inventor Donn Beach who claimed the Mai Tai copied one of his earlier recipes – but seeing as the ingredients vary wildly we’re not sure Donn’s claim matters.
How to make the perfect Mai Tai cocktail
Having lapped up the history of the Mai Tai it’s now time to get your chops around a cocktail for yourself. Here’s the recipe provided by Appleton Estate, substituting their recently relaunched 8 Year Old Reserve for the original 17 year old. We hope you find it out of this world…
The Appleton Estate Mai Tai
35ml Appleton Estate 8 Year Old Reserve BUY
15ml Grand Marnier or Orange Curacoa BUY
15ml Orgeat* BUY
25ml Fresh Lime
Garnish: 1 lime shell & fresh mint spring
Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with cubed ice and shake until cool. Fill an old fashioned glass** with ice and poor the Mai Tai over it. Garnish with the lime shell and a mint sprig. Manuia!***
**A short glass tumbler. Imagine the kind of cut glass crystal that a hard-nosed newspaper editor from a 1960s movie might fill with whisky from and you’re there.
***Tahitian for ‘cheers’, according to a quick Google search.