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I've seen several horrible mai tai recipes in bars/restaurants over the years, but the one I saw on vacation last week takes the cake. Here it is verbatim: Rum, orange juice, sweet and sour, cranberry juice, Grenadine and Meyers rum. Needless to say, I ordered a beer..

Coincidentally, the worst mai tai I ever had also had cranberry juice. The bartender added it to make it "better". I won't name the establishment as it's under new management.

I remember seeing a youtube video on how to make a mai tai where the bartender poured a bunch of cranberry in "for presentation".

A

A few years ago I was at a so-called "tiki" event, and I asked the bartender if he made any tiki drinks. He said he could make a mai tai. He then dumped in every fruit juice he had (including cranberry) and a couple ounces of dark rum into a pint glass. At first I thought, well fruit juice and rum, how bad could it be? But that cranberry really cut through and made it terrible. I couldn't finish it. Blecch

Here's mine, experienced just last month in Seattle's Very Tacki Tiki Bar. As near as I can figure, it's light rum and pineapple juice, with a dark rum floater. It was actually pretty tasty, as they had the rum and pineapple in good balance. But it was pretty much entirely unlike a Mai Tai. The Wife and I were laughing about it, it was so off the mark.

Sorry, but the "kerosene" Mai Tai from the Bahi Hut in Sarasota has got to be the winner by far. It is easily the worst drink of any kind that I have been served by a commercial establishment.

T

On 2017-08-15 14:46, TikiHardBop wrote:
Sorry, but the "kerosene" Mai Tai from the Bahi Hut in Sarasota has got to be the winner by far. It is easily the worst drink of any kind that I have been served by a commercial establishment.

"Their schtick has always been strong drinks. What the Bahi Hut calls a mai tai is more akin to the Jet Pilot at the Molokai. But is is a local tradition and rite of passage for over 50 years"

"The problem being is their mai tai is famous to them but is not really a mai tai. If folks can get past that name and think that it is more akin to a Jet Pilot, then you can enjoy it for what it is--almost pure alcohol."

I guess some like? it, the Bahi Hut Mai Tai that is.

I did not find the Jet pilot that strong and it tasted great!
The Tropical bistro boys would make us a Kahiki swizzle late at night and it was all booze, like 151 even, BUT it tasted good!
If the drink tastes good lots o Booze is ok.

Well that is till your customer drives off and mows down a bunch of people and blames you and those strong drinks you gave him or her or X.

T

This may be part of the problem.
It is a glass found at a restaurant supply store with the Mai tai drink printed on it and it has pineapple and grenadine in it.

I told the bartender at Windward that a Mai Tai had no Grenadine in them and he said" the recipe book said they do"
we tell people not to get a Mai Tai at Windward.

Whenever this discussion is brought up I always refer people to this Martin Cate video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZUYP1gn-fY

Sad thing is, when you read through the comments you see "professional" bartenders calling him an idiot and saying HE'S doing it wrong because they were taught otherwise in bartending school. If the industry is presenting the Mai Tai as a fruity Grenadine/Pineapple concoction with a Myers float, the majority of non-tiki people will likely cringe when tasting one done properly, and prefer a stiff, fruity beverage. Sadly, a lot of tiki bars aren't doing the drink justice either. They're either trying to appeal to the general public by making it "Hawaiian" style, or they just don't care to put any effort into their drink program.

My worst Mai Tai ever was at Tiki Tolteca in New Orleans a few years ago. Utterly disgusting.

For non-tiki bartenders, the Mai Tai has become a free-form do-as-you-will with whatever-you-have-on-hand and make-your-own-personal-version drink. Not only are wildly varying and incorrect recipes to blame for the loss of the original, but also that a large number of bartenders just don't seem to understand fine tuning and balancing a drink. It's about booze with juices and mixers and flavors, and often without balancing and tuning the blends. The many variations of a "martini" are another example where an original base concept or guideline is being run into the ground with endless variations in today's bars.

Do any bartending schools teach even a little history of drinking? I'm only familiar with one school, and the answer is definitely not. But we also have bartenders from on-the-job training, and those folks also don't get any formal training or understanding in the rich history of cocktails, some standards, and the bigger picture. But the fault isn't entirely theirs - they are not given good materials to work with either because their customers aren't very knowledgeable or demanding. A large segment of our drinking culture today is quite uninformed.

Now back to the Mai Tai... We tiki folks have a great little secret, and once in a while we get to open others eyes wide to the glory that is a good Mai Tai. I relish those moments.

K

On 2017-08-16 09:38, mikehooker wrote:
Whenever this discussion is brought up I always refer people to this Martin Cate video

Same here! Good video too.

Sad thing is that outside of a tiki bar many people may actually send back a properly made Mai Tai simply because it's not what they were expecting. The whole topic burns my gut so I've simply decided to live with the fact that there will likely always be a proper Mai Tai and a "island" Mai Tai and the casual drinker will almost always prefer the later if not from their expectations it will be from the more "tropical" presentation.

Ordered out of boredom at a chain restaurant. Why? I have no idea.

[ Edited by: Tiki-boss 2017-08-17 19:06 ]

[ Edited by: Tiki-boss 2017-08-18 09:33 ]

[ Edited by: Tiki-boss 2017-08-18 11:02 ]

Here is the actual ingredients from their menu. I must have had a good buzz going already to order this knowing it advance what was in it. Was it curiosity?

[ Edited by: Tiki-boss 2017-08-18 11:01 ]

Egads! The only thing that has in common with a Mai Tai is both contain a type of rum. The mind boggles. :roll:

Imagine how much more they could sell if they made a REAL Mai Tai. Who cares if Vic's is not their own recipe - it's all about the taste and balance and that they'd be the only ones around making it.

On 2017-08-17 19:06, Tiki-boss wrote:
Sad thing is that outside of a tiki bar many people may actually send back a properly made Mai Tai simply because it's not what they expecting.

I believe it. My personal view is that bartenders would really benefit from trying to SELL the customer on the story that goes with the drink, thereby also EDUCATING their customers. Otherwise what is the bartender doing? Just slinging booze. Bartenders could (should) give their customers more value by teaching them to be better drinkers, and telling them awesome backstories. Oh, they're too busy 100% of the time to actually care about the customer? Then the bar will achieve very little other than slinging booze.

Would you rather drink "just a cocktail," or a cocktail with some passion and a great story coupled with it? I'm not saying the bartender should tell a 10-minute story with each drink, but at least say SOMETHING when you serve it, like "this is a famous one with a great backstory" and then let the customer become really curious and ask a question.

On 2017-08-18 11:01, AceExplorer wrote:

On 2017-08-17 19:06, Tiki-boss wrote:
Sad thing is that outside of a tiki bar many people may actually send back a properly made Mai Tai simply because it's not what they expecting.

I believe it. My personal view is that bartenders would really benefit from trying to SELL the customer on the story that goes with the drink, thereby also EDUCATING their customers. Otherwise what is the bartender doing? Just slinging booze. Bartenders could (should) give their customers more value by teaching them to be better drinkers, and telling them awesome backstories. Oh, they're too busy 100% of the time to actually care about the customer? Then the bar will achieve very little other than slinging booze.

Would you rather drink "just a cocktail," or a cocktail with some passion and a great story coupled with it? I'm not saying the bartender should tell a 10-minute story with each drink, but at least say SOMETHING when you serve it, like "this is a famous one with a great backstory" and then let the customer become really curious and ask a question.

I think most bartenders don't know the history and backstory, or don't care to learn and enlighten. It's just a job for them. I've never been to bartending school so can't say for certain, but presumably they only teach technique and how to make the most commonly requested cocktails, which aren't that complex. Not that a Mai Tai is that difficult to master. But more than likely your average bar doesn't stock the ingredients needed to make a proper Mai Tai, and besides us whiners who know what it could and should be, the common consumer is unlikely to complain about the slop they're drinking cuz they don't know any better.

T

"and then let the customer become really curious and ask a question."

Bartenders have a name for this person something like pain in the a$$.

Many Bartenders hate making these tiki drinks as there is more work to them.

Would also guess that mikehooker is dead on about the ingredients needed for the Mai Tai
orgeat? and even Mint? not going to happen at most places.
Damn you are lucky if they have limes!

But when a Tiki bar can't make a good Mai Tai, well that's a problem.

J

BG Reynolds also had a couple of good videos on the correct way to make a Mai Tai and a 1950 Zombie, and the volume of people spouting lunacies they had learned at bartending school was jarring.

New entry- Worcester's Annex in Houston has their "Heights Mai Tai":

White Rum, Blackstrap Rum, Lime and Campari

The mix of white and blackstrap seems particularly cruel.

[ Edited by: Paulynesian 2017-08-25 12:38 ]

That is cruel, and an interesting mix of ingredients. Once again we see the Mai Tai has become a free-for-all drink title used by those who don't know anything about the real drink and that area of cocktail history.

Campari? The guy is just attempting to show off by using something a little unusual.

On 2017-08-25 13:26, AceExplorer wrote:
That is cruel, and an interesting mix of ingredients. Once again we see the Mai Tai has become a free-for-all drink title used by those who don't know anything about the real drink and that area of cocktail history.

Campari? The guy is just attempting to show off by using something a little unusual.

Do you think he even realizes how close he is to a Jungle Bird?

On 2017-08-15 14:46, TikiHardBop wrote:
Sorry, but the "kerosene" Mai Tai from the Bahi Hut in Sarasota has got to be the winner by far. It is easily the worst drink of any kind that I have been served by a commercial establishment.

When I saw the thread name... I just assumed it would be about the Bahi Hut's Mai Tai. A lot of good take-aways in this discussion. Whenever, I introduce new people to the BH I end up explaining the "Mai Tai", theres vs real ones and real ones vs what we often encounter.

In all my travels.. all my Mai Tais, the Bahi Hut Mai Tai is... unique, and I never have to have one again. ever.

Exceeding the two drink minimum will lead to VERY BAD THINGS.

That said, I will always fight to keep it on the menu. It is legendary and so many of us locals have endured that right of passage that it is tradition.
When you list the criteria for calling yourself a "Sarasotan" this is arguably at the top.

the Bahi Hut Mai Tai ... my vote for the worstest ever.

P

DNA had it almost right, except for the name of the drink:

"It is a curious fact, and one to which no-one knows quite how much importance to attach, that something like 85 percent of all known worlds in the Galaxy, be they primitive or highly advanced, have invented a drink called jynnan tonyx, or gee-N'N-T'N-ix, or jinond-o-nicks, or any one of a thousand variations on this phonetic theme.
The drinks themselves are not the same, and vary between the Sivolvian ‘chinanto/mnigs’ which is ordinary water served just above room temperature, and the Gagrakackan 'tzjin-anthony-ks’ which kills cows at a hundred paces; and in fact the only one common factor between all of them, beyond the fact that their names sound the same, is that they were all invented and named before the worlds concerned made contact with any other worlds."

What fresh hell is this?

Spotted today at Olive Garden (don't judge--office Christmas luncheon). I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

K
kkocka posted on Thu, Dec 7, 2017 3:09 PM

Amaretto hardly qualifies that drink to be Italian "themed." Yikes.

I guess we should just be thankful they added the word "Milan" in front of Mai Tai?

A

The thing I find most odd about this is, why would Olive Garden feel the need to make an Italian-themed Mai Tai? Why not just create generic cocktails like Pisa Punch or Sicily Sour? Considering Etna and Vesuvius, they could have even had their own volcano bowls. No imagination, these days....

On 2017-12-19 12:43, arriano wrote:
The thing I find most odd about this is, why would Olive Garden feel the need to make an Italian-themed Mai Tai? Why not just create generic cocktails like Pisa Punch or Sicily Sour? Considering Etna and Vesuvius, they could have even had their own volcano bowls. No imagination, these days....

Or they could dip into Joe Scialom's repertoire of rome-themed cocktails, but then again that would mean they'd actually have to serve a drink stiff enough to cop a buzz on.

K

On 2017-12-19 12:43, arriano wrote:
The thing I find most odd about this is, why would Olive Garden feel the need to make an Italian-themed Mai Tai? Why not just create generic cocktails like Pisa Punch or Sicily Sour? Considering Etna and Vesuvius, they could have even had their own volcano bowls. No imagination, these days....

Exactly. This is a prime example of the lack of a competent beverage director. Who would go to an Italian joint to even order a legit mai tai anyway?

On 2017-12-20 10:52, kkocka wrote:
Who would go to an Italian joint to even order a legit mai tai anyway?

Nobody. People don't go to Olive Garden for drinks, outside of maybe some blended red with their meal. The mai tai is there solely because it's a name most have probably heard before, although never tried, and may well go "What the heck--I'll give it a try." It's a lure, nothing more (although bait-and-switch is more accurate).

Not necessarily an abomination, but a variation on the Mai Tai, and worth reading. I've said it a number of times before -- today it's all about going outside of the traditional box and having fun with it. (Well, as long as you end up with something that tastes good.)

https://www.liquor.com/articles/charles-coykendall/#gs.sWGjhrQ

Article copied here because a) interesting reading for us on TC, and b) eventually it will disappear from the liquor.com site.

THIS BOSTON BARTENDER MAKES HIS MAI TAIS THE ITALIAN WAY
Contributed by Brad Japhe
Posted on Feb 20, 2018

(image: Charles Coykendall)
While certain spirits become more and more narrowly defined, rum remains something of a free bird. It can be made just about anywhere from just about any sort of sugar cane honey or derivative byproduct. Yet for all of its versatility, rum is curiously constrained in the minds of many drinkers—a Caribbean construct destined for beachside cocktails and motor-bound blenders.

Charles Coykendall is doing his best to beat back that stereotype. The beverage director at Benedetto, a popular Mediterranean restaurant in Cambridge, Mass., is recasting rum with an Italian accent. Avoiding the typecast, he’s directing the spirit to shine in a new role.

The connection between rum and Italy, specifically, is anything but obvious. The country only counts three producers within its boundaries, two of which source juice from tropical isles. But Coykendall bridges the thematic divide deftly in a drink that has become something of an instant classic at Benedetto. The Maitalia, as its name suggests, is a Mai Tai seen through Italian eyes. It includes Borducan orange liqueur (from the Italian alps), orgeat, citrus, bitters and Galliano, an Italian liqueur that “pairs beautifully with Jamaican rum,” says Coykendall.

Maitalia, left, and Doppio Solera

But before he can demonstrate the cultural flexibility of the spirit, Coykendall first has to convince his Boston-area patrons that rum is a viable spirit during the snowy months. “I think rum is a great spirit to use in all seasons,” he says. “Of course, it’s great in the summertime, when you’re thinking citrus and tropical. But aged rums are also a lot of fun to use during winter months.”

Those darker varieties, it turns out, work particularly well with Italian bitters. To wit, some drinkers find rum to be a superior substitute to gin in a Negroni variation.

“Amari can end up competing with the botanicals in gin for flavor dominance,” says Jon Lawson, who produces Batiste, an agricole-style rhum out of Northern California. “With sugar cane juice rhums, there are no added ingredients, and especially dry ones allow the amari to shine.” From this angle, the pair seem less like strange bedfellows and more like soulmates.

Benedetto

It’s held as self-evident at Benedetto, where Coykendall keeps finding creative ways to unite the two on the menu. “Good rums are versatile enough to pair with complex Italian spirits like amaro, as well as the sweeter herbal liqueurs, like Strega,” he says.

In his Doppio Solera, Coykendall relies on a base spirit of Santa Teresa 1796 rum to support a weighty trifecta of amari, vermouth and sherry. The name refers to the fractional blending technique used in the aging of both rum and Spanish fortified wines.

“A range of Italian spirits give this cocktail complexity and flavor while combining with the distinctive Venezuelan rum and rich sherry to create a nice ‘stirred, brown and down’ sipper that’s perfect for the colder seasons,” he says.

Doppio Solera

And Coykendall is hardly having a tough time selling it as such. After all, rum, even in an unlikely setting such as an Italian restaurant, is generally viewed as accessible, certainly more so than some of the more full-throttled amari lining the backbar. In this way, Coykendall positions rum not just as some novel addition to Italian mixology so much as a beautiful vehicle to bring you there.

For its part, the Maitalia is converting skeptics. “It has been on the menu since we opened,” says Coykendall. “The association gets people’s attention, especially when you have so many obscure Italian spirits on the menu. It helps to have something a bit familiar, to give people a comfort zone. People come back and order it again and again.”

Could it be enough to launch a broader trend of Italian rum cocktails? The folks in this part of Cambridge say so. And they’re wicked smaht.

Nick Cannon Makes a Mai Tai

Is even worse than you imagine.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXHkPRPr9qM

On 2018-03-15 08:34, kevincrossman wrote:
Nick Cannon Makes a Mai Tai

Is even worse than you imagine.

Thanks for the heads up. I just left what I hope is a constructive comment / suggestion that he come up with a different name for his drink.

T

[ Edited by: tikiskip 2018-03-15 09:10 ]

A

As I've often commented -- if anyone ordered a screwdriver and was handed a drink of pineapple juice and tequila they would scream bloody murder. But so many people will accept any sweet cocktail that's labeled a mai tai no matter how off the mark.

H
Hamo posted on Thu, Mar 15, 2018 9:46 PM

On 2018-03-15 08:34, kevincrossman wrote:
Nick Cannon Makes a Mai Tai

Perhaps Mr. Cannon went to American Bartendering School:

https://youtu.be/DgI700aERNc

Found this "Mai Tai" on a local high-end restaurant menu.

At least they spelled "Myers's Rum" correctly. It actually tasted ok, but it is definitely nowhere close to the pure joy of a REAL original Mai Tai.

[ Edited by: AceExplorer 2018-04-22 19:36 ]

There's nothing in my area of Michigan that even kind of qualifies as a tiki bar - but the sports bar/restaurant around the corner has a Mai Tai on the menu without listing the ingredients. Feeling brave one night, I ordered.

This was a mistake. The drink, while...not unpleasant, was so far removed from what a Mai Tai is it was laughable.

Last month, I decided to roll the dice again, and ordered their Planter's Punch. It was blue.

Needless to say, I don't order mixed drinks there anymore.

Yup, it's way disappointing. I try to chide the bartenders a bit when this happens -- "So, where do you get your drink recipes? This is nothing like what the drink is supposed to be." This often leads into a friendly discussion where the bartender (hopefully) gets to learn some things from me and hopefully takes it back to his boss. But in all cases I try to gently deliver the message that "You'd sell way more of these if you made them right cuz they'd taste way better."

We're cocktail missionaries, right?

On 2018-04-23 08:14, AceExplorer wrote:
Yup, it's way disappointing. I try to chide the bartenders a bit when this happens -- "So, where do you get your drink recipes? This is nothing like what the drink is supposed to be." This often leads into a friendly discussion where the bartender (hopefully) gets to learn some things from me and hopefully takes it back to his boss. But in all cases I try to gently deliver the message that "You'd sell way more of these if you made them right cuz they'd taste way better."

We're cocktail missionaries, right?

Hell yes we are - I think the Beachbum and Sven kickstarted the movement, and it's definitely up to us to evangelize what a good cocktail should be!

Reminded me -- I sometimes try to imagine what it was like to be at a bar where Donn Beach or Vic Bergeron were mixing and serving drinks. They would be very enthusiastic about their cocktails, and they would also be in-depth with the reasoning behind the drink. Today we have so many good recipes and so many good ingredients that we can build home bars and accurately make the magic on our own.

BB

Spotted on the drinks menu at Ruby Tuesday. I was tempted, wondering if it really comes in the Libbey glass, but common sense prevailed.

BB

Found a couple recipe books recently, and thought I'd compare their Mai Tais to the commonly accepted standard...

House & Garden's Drink Guide (1973)

De-evolution era. Pretty much as expected.

The Complete Bartender (Revised 2003)

From after the beginning of both the craft cocktail movement and the tiki renaissance - so no excuses for this one!

M

Maybe this should be taken up with bartender schools? Get Beachbum to start a petition. I'd sign it!

The IBA's version of a Mai Tai is also somewhat lacking
http://www.iba-world.com/english/cocktails/mai-tai

4 cl White Rum
2 cl Dark Rum
1.5 cl Orange Curaćao
1.5 cl Orgeat syrup
1 cl Fresh lime juice
Shake and strain into highball glass.
Garnish with pineapple spear, mint leaves and lime peel.
Serve with straw.

More "white rum" than "dark rum"? Hmmmmm

Well, that's a damn sight better than the video I saw a while ago that had pineapple & orange juice and caramel syrup, with Hershey's chocolate syrup drizzled over the garnish and drink.

And I'm a pretty easy going guy but if I see another "Malibu and grenadine" mai tai...

B

The worst "mai tai" atrocity I experienced was based on guava nectar. (or was it mango nectar? it was nasty syrupy) Another place near there had a really nice looking bar with some interesting rums and asked if he could make anything along the lines of a basic mai tai, but the bartender said the only limes they ever have are half-dessicated garnish wedgelettes that were probably cut up in the restaurant kitchen days earlier.

[ Edited by: bkrownd 2019-07-14 21:31 ]

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