In my opinion, the Mai Tai is the king of all tiki drinks. While I have been mixing up Mai Tais for years, it wasn't until I discovered the forgotten, original Trader Vic's recipe uncovered by Jeff "Beachbum" Berry that I became a rabid fan. Why? Because the original recipe is a superb blend of quality aged Jamaican and Martinique rums with just the right amount of natural sweetness. No need for pineapple juice and grenadine here! After struggling to find Martinique rums in Oregon, I noticed Clement V.S.O.P. rum from Martinique in one of our higher end liquor stores this year. And let me say that this is the best ever! And I confirmed my choice after reading a post on Mai Tais from RumDood, who is obviously an aficionado of rums (and the Mai Tai). After exhaustive testing of Mai Tai recipes by RumDood using a breadth of rums, it appears that the Appleton/Clément V.S.O.P. came out on top. So there you have it: the perfect Mai Tai recipe.
1 oz Appleton Estate Extra rum (12 year)
1 oz Clement V.S.O.P. rum (Rhum Vieux Agricole)
1/2 oz Clement Creole Shrubb
1/2 oz Trader Tiki's orgeat syrup
1/4 oz rich simple syrup
3/4 oz lime juice
Fill a shaker with ice. Add the rums, Creole Shrubb, orgeat syrup, simple syrup and lime juice. Cap the shaker and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Strain into a 12 oz double old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint (and an orchid if you have one).
A word about orgeat syrup: Orgeat (Or-zhä(t)) is a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and rose water or orange-flower water. While you can make your own (which looks daunting), I suggest purchasing a high-quality one from Trader Tiki's Hand-Crafted Exotic Syrups. Theirs is made from natural ingredients in small batches.