Exactly 100 years ago today the New York Times published the following poetic recipe that is based on rhymes that are repeated by rote in the Caribbean:
This recipe I give to thee,
Dear brother in the heat.
Take two of sour (lime let it be)
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong —
I know whereof I speak.
Depending on where you are in the Caribbean, similar poetic recipes can be found for Planter’s Punch, Bajan Rum Punch, or Caribbean Rum Punch. The differences between them are minor variations in the ratios of lime juice to the other ingredients.
Decoding the rhyme, the “sour” is lime or lemon juice, the “sweet” is some form of citrus juice – usually pineapple or orange juice. The “strong” is, of course, rum. And the “weak” is water.
Today, we don’t usually water down our liquor because it is no longer sold at barrel strength the way it was 100 years ago. Plus, the crushed ice dilutes the drink naturally.
So, to modernize the recipe a bit, here’s how I make mine:
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake well. Then pour into a Collins glass and garnish with citrus fruit slices.
Of course, you can always scale this recipe up to a “punch” and make a whole pitcher of it.
One day, when I get around to finishing my book, “1001 Reasons to Drink Rum” you’ll see that Reason #48 is the Mai Tai.
I mean, perhaps I’ll even move it up a bit in the ranking because this drink is really, really good.
The legend of this drink is that its inventor (Victor J. Bergeron, of Trader Vics fame) mixed this drink up as a special for a visitor from Tahiti back in 1944. When his Tahitian friend tasted it, he said “Maita’i roa!” – which means “Out of this World!”
Thus was born the Mai Tai.
Hey, I don’t know if that’s true or not, but the drink really is Out of this World. And that qualifies it to be todays Friday 5 o’Clock Cocktail.
Here’s how to make a Mai Tai:
- 1 1/2 oz dark rum (I use Myer’s)
- 1 oz of aged rum (typically Anejo rum, but any “gold” or “aged” rum will do fine)
- 1/2 oz Orange Curacao
- 1/2 oz Orgeat
- 1 oz lime juice
- 1/2 oz orange juice
- 1/4 oz simple syrup
Just take everything, put it in your cocktail shaker with ice and shake thoroughly. Serve it on the rocks in some kind of glass that’s big enough to hold it all.
Now, according to tradition, you are supposed to garnish this drink with an orange blossom and some orange peel spiral.
But we’re drunks, and we don’t have any fuckin’ orange blossoms, and we certainly don’t have the dexterity to peal up orange spirals!
So, just garnish it with a slice of orange and don’t worry about it.