Friday, February 03, 2012

In Honor of Tiki Month

You will be pleased, dear Internet. No, really. Slightly relieved, but mostly pleased.

It is a good thing the estimable cocktailian Doug Winship has declared it Tiki Month. (Not entirely sure how he has arrived at such authority, but hey, let's just play along.) So I decided to blog and share.

You may have been wondering where I have cyber-been. (Then again, you mayn't, but this is my blog, and therefore such curiosity will be imputed to you, jointly and severally.)

It's a fair question. The answer to which requires a bit of a back story, so sit back and let the glow of the narrative envelop you.

Coming up soon is #1S's 15th birthday party. #1S -- like me and wholly unlike #2S -- really cares that he has parties which people remember. He enjoys the social-arbiter status of conferring standing and prestige upon invitees when they have been invited to a given #1S bash. (My long suffering wife, being the Goldilocks, is somewhere in between.)

Therefore, he likes his parties to verily kick arse. Especially now that having girls hold you in great esteem dawns as something of ever-growing importance. The way that our parties seem to work out is that there are usually +/- 15 kids (#1S was born in the middle of the summer, so there are a significant number of his friends who are gone.) about half of whom tend to be drop-offs and the other half, obviously, aren't.

This means the non-dropoff-ees usually drag along at least one parent (80% of these are mothers). Some drop off for the excursion or movie part, but come over for the edibles and potables. They skip the wedding, but attend the reception, if you will.

Interestingly, this represents a fairly streamlined affair from 3-4 years ago when a brigade of children was the norm.

Anyway.

Last year, the plan was to go to the wave pool for what passes for surfing in wave-free Fringe o' Paradise and then repair back to the estate for Tiki-ish potables and edibles. That proved an epic smash.

Hold that thought.

So NOS decides that, since last year was such a smash, and since last year his best friend's wildly overprotective mother wouldn't allow him (the friend) to go, but this year she will, that he should reprise the festivities and execute this plan all over again. When mentioned in casual chatter to people, many had said this was excellent and how much they loved it or how deeply they regretted having dropped off and not loitered around to "hang out with you guys.**"

A few weeks ago, I got an email stating Trader Vic's in Portland had FINALLY* reopened. I mentioned this lightly to the exceedingly lovely and amazingly gracious
Poppy (who had nurtured and fostered my silliness in this direction and who allows me to venerate her first class relic first edition copy of the Trader Vic's Guide to Food & Drink whenever I'm visiting), and then went to look at their site. Which led me to think that, if I planned a little bit ahead of time, unlike last year when the thing popped up last minute, I could do something more impressive and cheaper.

OK. The reason I have told you all that is so I can tell you this:

Doing the above takes research.

Which is where I have been.

Researching.

Thankfully, the Internet is scrofulous with people who are, in varying degrees of mental disturbance seriousness, really into this whole Tiki thing. (Stand by for a post detailing these fine folks in a luxury of details.)

AND!

(
Tere, stay with me, you're in this.) One of the original "Polynesian Pop" outposts, like a coealacanth*** swimming through the ocean of the hospitality industry, the Mai-Kai, is practically in my backyard.

So.

I got to looking.

First off, it's a ton(ne) of effort to pull off the whole Poly-Tiki Castaway trip full-time. I, for one, do not have the DNA to do this, but my battered straw hat is off
to those who do.

Of those who do, there are two in particular to whom I'd like to draw your attention.

The first is a respected beverage journalist and author,
Jeff Berry. He needs no plug from the likes of me, but his blog is an excellent resource and crazy-fun.

The other is, by all indications, a guy named
Blair Reynolds. That is, until, you pore deeper into his bloggery. This guy is to cocktails what I am to food. A manic, obsessive mad scientist. Here is a guy who thinks nothing of making his own orgeat syrup (as well as a lot of the exotic ingredients that go into drinks like the Scorpion, Zombie, Navy Grog, etc.) because the commercial stuff is either unavailable or unacceptable.

If he had stopped there, he should be one of your heroes. But he didn't. If he had stopped at
owning more different bottles of rum than the Caribbean Council of Distillers -- and not cheap ones, either -- that'd be pretty stunning, too.

But o
n top of THAT he's started his own company to manufacture and sell the fixings for these Tiki cocktails, of high-quality ingredients with nary a chemical on the radar. Go buy his stuff.

Anyway, all this took me out of my loop for a while. I looked up crazy stuff on eBay, dredged up drink**** recipes, food recipes, tracked down crazy fonts and clipart, etc. That, dear Internet, is how I spent the time otherwise allotted to bloggery.
I was able to scratch out a prototype menu (and save-the-dates invitations, etc.) and cheaper than finding something that's not quite what I wanted.

So, to be a pal I will now share with you MY recipe for the Mai-Tai, which, I assure you, is the definitive one.


1 oz golden rum (I like Doorly's XO)
1 oz aged rum (I like Barbancourt 8)
[the original recipe called for 2 oz of J. Wray & Nephew 17 Year Old Rum, which these days costs -- get this -- $2K if you can find it. You can try substituting any of those aged rums like Zacapá or Matusalén. I haven't gotten that far yet. For the purposes of cocktailing it up for a large crowd of freeloaders guests, go with a good "utility" aged rum, I just go w. straight Bacardi 8 and all is fine.]
¼-½ oz orgeat
½ oz Cointreau (for a large crowd of freeloaders guests, I use Citronge) ¼-½ oz "rock candy" syrup (which is basically 3:1 simple syrup to which I add the merest trace of vanilla.)
1 oz fresh lime juice, not that flourescent green stuff in the bottle.
Mix all ingredients (including the spent lime shells!) and shake with ice. Strain into a glass over fresh, crushed ice. Garnish with lime shell and a sprig of mint, which you have given a slight spank to awaken the essential oils. Maybe a cherry and orange or pineapple.

Now, for the visual learners in the gallery, here it is in a photo-essay format. Because I am awesome like that.

Okay.

Here is the road company of ingredients: (back to front, left to right)

Rock candy syrup
Orgeat
Steel half of the Boston shaker
Rum (today's star is Barceló Añejo, because I had never tried it and was curious)
Cointreau
Glass half of Boston shaker, with a clip-on strainer (OXO, which is not only the very best, it's also stupidly cheap)
Lime, atop the lime squeezer (were I to be making a bucket of this, instead of one, I'd use the electric juicer, otherwise, I'd wind up with forearms like Popeye)

We start by crushing ice. The first batch of which goes into the glass. (This glass? Birthday gift from the extremely lovely and monumentally gracious Poppy.) For added cold-related excellentness, I put it in the freezer, on standby.
And we start building our beverage.

Start with 2 oz. of rum
½ oz. of Cointreau
¼-½ oz. of rock candy syrup (depending on how dry you like it)
¼ to ½ oz. of orgeat (given that Cointreau is drier than triple sec, a little extra orgeat is sometimes needed for balance...you do whatever)
1 oz of lime juice.

Not only do I slice the lime in half, but I also score each half pretty deeply into quadrants. To get maximum juicefulness.
To be safe, I stick the juicer into the steel part of the shaker, lest I spray everything within a 10' (3m) radius with lime juice, especially my eyes.
...and here we have the post-squeezery phase.
Believe me there was an ounce of juice (and a tiny bit over) to be had from that small lime.


Drop the spent lime shells into the glass half of the shaker. Nobody else tells you to do this, but I found you get more of the essential oils from teh skin that way. Fill the steel half with crushed ice.


Assemble the shaker. When you do this make sure you squeeze the steel half ever-so-slightly and that you push and twist the glass half. This creates a seal. Important if you don't want to sprinkle any Mai-Tai all over the place.


Shake until you have a good frost -- not merely condensation -- on the outside of the steel half, then another 5 seconds. For those of you in arid climes, figure 30-45 seconds, total.


Retrieve your vessel from the recesses of the freezer, and pour through the strainer. It is very important you pour into fresh "dry" ice -- not dry ice, mind you.

Garnish with the spent lime shell (or some cherries, pineapple chunk, orange slice, etc.) and some mint which I forgot to add because I was thirsty.


-J.


P.S. Yes -- and I cannot believe you ever doubted me -- I made my own orgeat and rock-candy syrup.


* They closed at their original location and between scouting for a new one and fixing that up it took years.


** Enjoy the potables and edibles.


*** Utterly unchanged since 1956, and having survived the boom and the bust of the original Tiki fad.


**** Including alcohol-free "mocktails" for the kids, as #1S particularly enjoys playing with a blender and shaker.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jordan Devereaux said...

Simplicity is definitely key when you're making drinks in bulk. Whenever I'm making mai tais for myself, it's too tempting to turn them into 4+ rum monstrosities in search of perfection.

11:05 PM  
Blogger JMG said...

'zackly. I am very much at peace with making a B+ "utility" Mai Tai for the Masses.

2:19 AM  

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