I usually only drink Mai Tais in two places; Hawaii and Peabody Massachusetts. Okay, I know the second place is downright weird, but stick with me. When we are visiting Lenny’s family in Boston, his parents love going to Su Chang’s for Chinese food. Everyone has a Mai Tai, it is just a thing. I like their dark version as it has more flavor and seems to have less sugar, though I am sure rest of that cocktail is a mix.
These days when visiting Hawaii or even a local Tiki bar, it is tough to find a Mai Tai that isn’t made with a mix. I still remember the first one I had with fond memories. I the opportunity to stay at the Halekulani many moons ago, and upon arrival they greeted us with a lei as well as an ice cold Mai Tai. What I remember most is how it smelled, slightly sweet but slightly caramelized. The first sip I tasted real fruit juice, the kind you only got when you squeezed it at home. As well, the rum tasted spicy and warm. A was definitely hooked and enjoyed many during that trip.
We have been enjoying “warm weather” cocktails the past few weeks and have been trying to find a signature one to serve when entertaining this summer. So far we are really enjoying rum based cocktails as well as gin. Both alcohols can be light, flavorful and exciting.
My recipe for a Mai Tai uses the same approach; fresh ingredients as well as high-quality alcohol. There are two secret ingredients as well, passion fruit and Amaro di Angostura, which I use as a floater. The recipe is simple, add ingredients in layers over crushed ice, after a few moments, you will smell the sweetness of the Islands. Just before serving add the floater and then enjoy!