Sunset Cocktail: Mai Tai on National Mai Tai Day

1 oz Clément V.S.O.P. Rhum Agricole Vieux
1 oz Appleton Estate Extra Dark Jamaican Rum
1/2 oz Lime juice
1/2 oz Orgeat syrup
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Gomme Syrup

Shake all ingredients with ice and pour unstrained into a double Old Fashioned glass or Tiki. Garnish with mint and Lime husk.

June 30th is here and it’s National Mai Tai Day. I tried to make this as close to the old Trader Vic version as I could with only a small change or 2. Strangely enough, there are dozens of Mai Tai recipes out there that claim to be the ‘Original Trader Vic Mai Tai’. So, I cobbled together this from what I gathered.

Back when I did my short stint as an actual bartender serving drinks to people other than myself for fun and profit, I made a bunch of these and other ‘Polynesian’ drinks. We used a lot of premade everything and all of these types of drinks always came out say too sickeningly sweet for my taste. I can’t say that I make anything like this for myself but it’s not because I’d grown sick of them because of overexposure unlike other things from other jobs I’ve had. I just don’t like super-sweet/sour/fruity drinks. This is why I cut back the Lime juice from a full ounce to a half.

I also tried my own Orgeat this time. I’ve been using a brand that I can’t remember the name of because the label fell off the bottle but, after making a Pistachio Orgeat a while back, figured I’d take some advice and make my own for this. I followed this recipe because I liked the article, though scaled back a half.

From Toby Cecchini, T Magazine

Homemade Orgeat Syrup

1.1 pounds blanched or toasted blanched almonds
1.5 pounds sugar (1/2 demerara, 1/2 white)
1 tablespoon orange-flower water
2 teaspoons almond extract.

Combine almonds with 11 ounces of water in a blender and blend briefly until uniformly but roughly chopped. Pour into a nonreactive bowl and add one liter of boiling water. Stir well and let stand for three hours. Line a sieve or chinois with overlapping layers of fine cheesecloth, arranging them in an X pattern and leaving a fair amount trailing over to grab hold of. Pour in the mixture and allow it to filter through, assisting with a wooden spoon if necessary. Fold up the ends of the cheesecloth carefully to trap the pulp in a bag and squeeze out the remaining liquid. (This is important, as the pulp retains a fair amount of emulsion.) Discard cheesecloth and pulp. Place emulsion mixture in a pan, add sugar and heat mildly through (140 degrees or less), stirring until sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Add orange-flower water and almond extract and funnel into a clean, capped bottle to refrigerate. Optionally you may add 2 or 3 ounces of vodka to the syrup, as a preservative. Yields about 1.6 liters.

Note: The syrup will separate after a short while. Simply shake it up again before using.

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