Tag Archives: Mai Tai

The History of the Tiki Cocktail

The Rise, Fall and Rise of…

tiki lounge


The origin of that great tiki cocktail, the Mai Tai, is murky water at best. To fully understand the where, when, who, why and how of the matter you have to go all the way back to the 1930’s!

As it stands the where and when of the original Mai Tai is pretty much set in stone; it’s the ‘who’ that’s the biggest query…

So let’s state for a fact: The Mai Tai was created in California back in the early 1900’s and was created by one of two cocktail legends: Victor ‘Trader Vic’ Bergeron or Ernest ‘Don the Beachcomber’ Gantt.

I won’t regale you with their two highly intriguing stories, at least no more than to say that Trader Vic’s story is the more plausible (and also sounds more naturally true). That said, if you want to read Vic’s or Don’s Mai Tai origin stories then click here

Arguably the most important factor in deciding who got the plaudits for the creation of the Mai Tai is that there are Trader Vic restaurants/bars across the world, and yet the same cannot be said for don the beachcomber establishments…

Although not taken directly from a trader vic restaurant this tiki inspired menu looks pretty darn amazing doesn't it?
Although not taken directly from a trader vic restaurant this tiki inspired menu looks pretty darn amazing doesn’t it?

That result for them both has led to Trader Vic’s being the go to establishment for truly authentic tiki themed bars/restaurants and, by way of necessity; they also stock one of the wealthiest collection of tiki cocktails (Click here for a link to the cocktail menu of Trader Vic’s London branch)…

So why are tiki cocktails a thing? Well when they first came about they accompanied some fantastic food recipes that were Polynesian inspired and boasted some bold and wonderful flavours. Now both Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic translated the flavour combinations of their food into their drinks. This led to some stunning, and some strong, tiki cocktails entering the world of mixology and becoming synonymous with both American and tropical culture since…

A brief history in a timely fashion (yes this will be quick)

The tiki cocktail started with the opening of the very first ‘tiki’ restaurant back in 1934. Regardless of who invented the Mai Tai, it is clear to see that Don Beach was the first person to start mixing fresh syrups, juices and rum. This practice is what makes cocktail a true tiki cocktail and was carried out by both Vic and beach throughout the renaissance of the tiki cocktail, leading to some of the great cocktails we now see plastered across almost every menu in every bar we ever go to!

Of course huge events like the world wars and American prohibition all had extremely potent effects on the course of the tiki cocktail, whether they precede the tiki era or simply occurred during their height. Inevitably the novelty of tiki cocktails and their almost teleportation-like effects wore off and they fell out of fashion during the 1960’s – mainly due to the Vietnam war and an increased sensitivity to indigenous peoples and; the former taking away the ideals of living out your days on a beach paradise pretty much nailed the coffin of the tiki culture firmly shut.

Fear Not! Like a phoenix from the ashes the tiki cocktail is back in full force (hurrah). The best thing about reboots is the ability to do something right. Mostly.

Tiki cocktails are certainly on a rise, and this is probably buoyed on by the astonishing firework of a rise that rum is currently experiencing. Although, as I have mentioned briefly in my earlier posts tiki cocktails of the present day are experimenting with other spirits…

This current trend of craft cocktails taking on the tiki cocktails and introducing new and exciting directions, shows how far the cocktails of the tiki theme have come since their rather humble beginnings…

So from their creation stemming from the blood of the first Mai Tai, tiki cocktails evolved to include some rather stunning concoctions. Granted there are some that may not give you the best of evenings but if we’re honest with ourselves, drinking absinthe in copious amounts is never a decent decision…

Here's what you can expect if you order a tiki cocktail from a bar that prides itself on serving great cocktails...
Here’s what you can expect if you order a tiki cocktail from a bar that prides itself on serving great cocktails…

Look out for some of the best recipes from across the internet, from Classic Mai Tai’s to odd little Tequila-drenched Pina coladas, there is bound to be one cocktail for all tastes…

As a final note: This week will signal the end of my Tiki-Themed month and over the following couple of months I’ll be looking at something a little different. Keep an eye out near the end of the week for some (possibly) exciting news!

Tiki Cocktails; A day out in paradise…

Where has all the rum gone? – Jamaica, Guyana, Martinique, Cuba & Puerto Rico, that’s where!

Rum will forever be synonymous with beaches and the exotic getaway the Caribbean can envision...
Rum will forever be synonymous with beaches and the exotic getaway the Caribbean can envision…

There are not many Tiki themed cocktail bars in my local area [Sad face] and therefore my exotic getaways are restricted to what I make for myself,  unless I want a poorly made Pina Colada – everywhere sells those!

Unfortunately, for me at least, that means that certain products are only available seasonally and whilst most would argue that the need for a tiki cocktail in the winter is not quite like it is when in the height of summer, I feel that it’s my right to be able to get a decently made tiki cocktail whenever I want!

So whilst I struggle on with my local bars and pubs, trying ever so hard to find at least a good tiki cocktail, I dream of bigger and most definitely better things: A great tiki cocktail!

That usually means I’m left with gathering ingredients and making the drink myself, and that is exactly what I’ve done for the 3 cocktails used in this post…

Bars like this one, the Punch Tiki Bar (LA), are no where to be found down here in South East Kent :(
Bars like this one, the Punch Tiki Bar (LA), are no where to be found down here in South East Kent 😦

But first: What is a tiki cocktail? It’s all well and good me saying “tiki this” and “tiki that” but I suppose unless you have some context it could be a little over your head. Well let’s discuss what a tiki cocktail is and why they’re too important to be made poorly…


The Great American Tiki Rush

People will come for miles to get a taste of a great tiki cocktail...
People will come for miles to get a taste of a great tiki cocktail…

So whilst I yearn for well-made and great tasting tiki, I had a thought: What exactly makes a great Tiki cocktail? I mean I know how to make all the classic tiki cocktails: the Mai Tai, Zombie, even the often poorly made Pina Colada; but what is the history of this exotic cocktail genre? And what does it mean to drink a Tiki drink like the Mai Tai?

Well here I look to share some of the discoveries I’ve made whilst trawling through the endless recipe pages the internet unsurprisingly supplied… I’ll even throw in three (3) of my favourite classic tiki cocktails for good measure!

Forget the gold rush and mid-west gunfights; the biggest rush of recent American history was the rise of the Tiki cocktail. Tiki cocktails came from seemingly nothing and, spearheaded by two particular individuals, rose to become one of the most popular cocktail genres of the current time! But a little more about that a little later.

What tiki cocktails are meant to provoke are memories of exotic locations and beach side haunts. At the very least they’re meant to help take you away from the everyday trivialities of life.

Tiki cocktails are more than just another genre of cocktails, and it’s all too easy to think of them as just rum cocktails and this is the unfortunate trap a lot of bars that serve these cocktails fall prey to.

A tiki cocktail, by general definition is a cocktail that uses Jamaican rum, Martinique rum and then a combination of syrups, juices and other liqueurs. The importance in that definition is the first two ingredients: 2 types of Rum. Although other spirits are being used more and more – this is in no way a bad thing!

The overall definition is a little open to interpretation and whilst some die-hards will tell you that “a tiki cocktail simply has to contain rum” most bartenders and mixologists understand that restricting ones pool of inspiration is a bit short-sighted. After all you can make an old fashioned with rum, why not a tiki cocktail with scotch?

This Mai Tai shows how simple a rum tiki drink can be. There maybe a few ingredients but it's a simple mix, shake and serve routine...
This Mai Tai shows how simple a rum tiki drink can be. There maybe a few ingredients but it’s a simple mix, shake and serve routine…

However, that being said, almost every cocktail expert will tell you one thing: When getting into tiki drinks always start with rum and master the classics first and only then should you think about expanding into other spirits and liqueurs as ingredients…

It might seem a little contradictory but when you think about the most famous tiki cocktails they always almost contain rum as a base spirit. This is no coincidence as back during their infancy, tiki cocktails used rum exclusively. It’s only been in the most recent times that tequila, vodka and whisky – among other spirits – have been used. It is the classic nature of these cocktails, as well as other rum-based tiki cocktails, that give rise to the stigmata of using other spirits.

So let’s assume that you want to start out on your very first tiki cocktail adventure, and to do that you need to heed the advice of cocktail experts: Start with Rum…

The type(s) of rum you start with is important, if only for the sake of creating the best cocktails you can possibly make. This collection of 3 main types of rum should be enough to get you started and then, as stated above, you can expand to your own pace:

  • A rich Demerara-style rum from Guyana or a nice rhum agricole from Martinique – El Dorado 12YO rum is expensive, but one of the best rums out there, at least in this category
  • A rich Jamaican rumAppleton Estate ‘Special Jamaican Rum’ is a great choice, especially as it is readily available in most UK supermarkets
  • And, arguably the most overlooked rum for beginners: White rum. A white rum in the style of Cuba or Puerto Rico is the best choice – Brugal & Havana club are great brands to start with

Once you have the rum you simply need to pay a visit to your local supermarket/green grocers and do one of two things: Decide on your laziness level!

If you want truly authentic tiki cocktails, then you simply have to go full-fresh juice. To do this find the produce section of the shop and pick up some exotic fruits:

  • Pineapples, mangoes, passion fruit, dragon fruit, lychee, oranges, lemons, limes and of course coconuts. Feel free to experiment with literally any exotic fruit you can lay your hands on.

Then simply blend the ingredients up to create truly fresh fruit juice for your cocktails! You can also use chunks and slices of the same fruit for creating home-made sugar syrups, which can really help to add further depth in taste to your cocktails.

Failing that most supermarkets, at least here in the UK, stock ‘NFC – Not From Concentrate’ juices and I cannot state clearly enough that this is literally the lowest you should go when making cocktails. Juices from concentrates are a little cheaper but for truly authentic and, simply put, better tasting cocktails you really should get the juice as fresh as possible…

Everyone knows the fresher the juice the better. All I know for sure is that fresh-squeezed = better tasting.
Everyone knows the fresher the juice the better. All I know for sure is that fresh-squeezed = better tasting.

The only other things you need to make your tiki cocktails are:

  • Ice (cubed) – you will need the best quality you can find and for the sake of any blended drinks please use cubed ice rather than crushed! – Although if you require crushed by all means do get it, but do not use it in place of the cubed ice! Trust me you don’t want to blend crushed ice, unless you want to water out your drink…
  • Decent glassware and garnishes: Get a decent hurricane glass (or two) and also some nice straws. You can also go all out on the garnish, using umbrellas and various fruit twirls etc. but I prefer it when the motto less = more is in effect!

Once you have all the things mentioned above you’re ready to move onto the recipes!


So what are the most famous tiki cocktails?

Left to Right: Pina Colada, Mai Tai, Zombie...
Left to Right: Pina Colada, Mai Tai, Zombie…

Obviously everyone knows of the main 3 cocktails: The Mai Tai, The Zombie and of course that sleeper tiki big-hitter: The Pina Colada.

But not many people know how to make these cocktails properly. The recipes shared below are believed to be the original or, in case of the Mai Tai, the closest possible match using today’s ingredients…


How to make a Classic Tiki cocktail at home?

Rum + Fruit Juice + Syrup = COCKTAILS O’CLOCK!!!


Mai Tai

mai tai

Before we start I have to confess: This is not the original recipe. The original recipe calls for a type of rum no longer made, however the fusion of the two rums used is supposedly the closest you can get to the original. And like all things on this blog I’ve given this cocktail a teeny-tiny little fervent shaker tweak…

Recipe:

  • 1 measure Martinique Rum
  • 1 measure Jamaican Rum
  • 1 measure fresh Lime Juice
  • ½ measure Orgeat Syrup
  • ½ measure Cointreau

Garnish: Sprig of mint & fresh lime…

Method:

This cocktail is a simple yet effective mixture that is usually ruined by the type of ingredients used and not the method. As you’ll see below the method is pretty darn easy…

  • Combine all of the ingredients (except the garnish) in an ice filled shaker and shake well – for around 10-20 seconds [or until the tin ices over].
  • Strain the mixture into a rocks glass full of crushed ice and garnish with a sprig of mint and a lime wedge/wheel/twist [whichever you prefer].
  • Fervent Shaker teeny-tiny little tweak: Try floating some dark, high quality rum on top of the drink before garnishing… It’ll add a little richness to the final sips of this already awesome drink…

Zombie

Zombie Cocktail

Originally created by the original beachcomber himself, it contains a super-secret ingredient which for years was just that: secret. Turns out it was just a mix of grapefruit and cinnamon syrups!

Recipe:

  • 1.5 measures gold Puerto Rican Rum
  • 1.5 measures Jamaican Rum
  • 1 measure 151 Demerara Rum
  • ¾ measure fresh lime juice
  • ½ Dons Mix (Grapefruit & Cinnamon syrup mixture)
  • ½ measure Falernum liqueur
  • 1tsp Grenadine
  • 8 drops absinthe
  • 1 dash angostura bitters

Method:

  • Blend all the ingredients together, with ice, for about 5-10 seconds (high speed).
  • Pour the mixture into a chimney* glass and garnish with a sprig of mint!

* A chimney glass is a type of glass you are already probably aware of and, depending on their shape/size, are known by several names: The delmonico, The collins & The highball.


Pina Colada

Recipe:

  • 2 measures White Rum
  • 2 measures Coconut Cream
  • 2 measures Pineapple Juice
  • 100 grams crushed ice

Method:

  • Blend all of these ingredients together and strain into a well-chilled hurricane glass and garnish with a wedge of pineapple, a couple of cherries and, if you’re feeling exceptionally exotic, a decently sized pineapple leaf.

So there you go! 3 classic tiki cocktails 1 from each of the ‘fathers of tiki’ and of course everyone’s summer classic: the Pina Colada.

Tiki cocktails are more than just a rum mix; they’re an escape from reality and all things boring. They’re a chilled, and sometimes eclectic, mix of rum juice, syrup and of course exotic flavours. The next time you go out and about why not order a mai tai, or a pina colada? Or, and only if you’re feeling exceptionally brave, why not try a zombie or two? Although most places will only allow you a double tap…

Keep your eyes peeled for more Tiki fun coming up later this month, from the best tiki cocktails to the best rums to use in those cocktails and all sorts of other tid-bits. This month, come away with me and enjoy an escape like no other: Tiki Cocktails…

Rum Summer Cocktails: Sun, Sea, Sand & Lots of Rum…

Now anyone who has read my Cuba Libre post (or seen any of the status updates on my Facebook page) will verify this: I LOVE RUM! My 2 favourite rum cocktails of all time (ever) are; 1) The Cuba Libre, 2) Dark N’ Stormy… I’ve placed the DNS as the number 1 (without a doubt) but the Cuba Libre only made it to number 3… Scroll down to find out why…

10. Twisted Lemon Mojito

60ml White Rum

15ml sugar syrup

1 lime (chunked/quartered)

8 mint leaves

20ml Lemon Juice

Top up Lemonade

Place the mint leaves in the bottom of the serving glass and place the lime pieces on top of the lime (skin-side up). Pour in the sugar syrup and gently muddle the ingredients (be careful not to tear the mint leaves as the drink will become bitter, you just want to loosen the oils from the leaves). Pour in the rum and stir very gently. Fill the glass with crushed ice and top up with the lemon juice and lemonade. Stir to mix up the drink one last time. Garnish with a lime wedge and mint sprig. Serve with 2 straws.

9. Perfect Storm

1 Vanilla Bean

½ cup Caster Sugar

30ml Ginger Ale

45ml Apple Cider

60ml Dark Rum

Mix together the rum, cider and ginger ale and pour into a vanilla sugar rimmed glass (filled with ice). Garnish with half the vanilla bean.

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No.8: The Mai Tai…

8. (Classic) Mai Tai

30ml Golden (light) Rum

30ml Dark Rum

15ml Orange Curacao (although a clear triple sec will suffice)

10ml sugar syrup

15ml almond (orgeat) syrup

Juice of one medium sized lime

Combine and shake all the above ingredients over ice. Shake until the metal of the shaker is well iced. Strain into a rocks glass (over crushed ice if you prefer) and garnish with a combination of the following: Lime wedges, pineapple wedges, maraschino cherries & Orange twirls.

7. Classic Daiquiri

60ml White Rum

20ml fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons sugar syrup

1 teaspoon maraschino liqueur (optional)

Shake all the ingredients over ice and strain into a cocktail glass (martini). Garnish with a thin slice of lime/lime twirl.

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No.6: Mango & Pineapple Rum Cocktails….

6. Pineapple & Mango Rum Cocktails

Serves 6

2 ½ small ripe mangoes, peeled & cubed (1/2 mango sliced length-ways and with the skin left on),

120ml Appleton estate golden rum

120ml cup fresh mineral water

1L Fresh Pineapple Juice

Fresh tropical/exotic fruit for garnish (Dragon Fruit, Star Fruit, Papaya, Physalis etc)

Puree the mangoes, rum and mineral water and pour 120ml of puree into each glass. Top up the glasses with ice and pour over the pineapple juice (fill the glass). Garnish with the mango slices and tropical/exotic fruit (add some flowers to make the drinks look a bit more tropical).

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No.5: the Mojito… There’s nothing standard about a classic mojito, but a little bit of fruit can really brighten up your glass (not to mention add a great flavour to your drink)…

5. Classic Caribbean Mojito

60ml White rum

15ml sugar syrup

1 Lime (chunked/quartered)

8 Mint leaves

Top up Soda Water

Same preparation as no.10; Use as little or as much mint/lime as you prefer but no less than 1 lime worth of chunks/quarters. Top up with soda water instead of lemonade.

Top tip: for a hit of flavour, add 1-2 pieces (more for small berries) of your chosen fruit into the shaker and shake with the rest of the ingredients (various amounts of fresh juice will also work – although slightly dilute the overall strength of the drink).

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No. 4: The Pina Colada…

4. Classic Pina Colada

500ml Fresh Pineapple Juice

180ml creamed coconut (tinned is ok)

250ml Golden (light) Rum

750ml crushed ice

Garnish: 4 lime twirls & 4 pineapple spears

Blend all of the ingredients (except the garnishes) and blend for about 1 minute. Pour into hurricane glasses and drop in the pineapple spears. Wipe a lime twirl around the rim of each glass and drop it into the drink to finish. Serve immediately with straws.

Top tip: Choose nicely flavoured golden rums; Brugal Anejo or Bacardi Gold are great choices. For an added touch of class use Angostura 1919 rum. Also if you fancy a splash of heat, use a spiced rum and drop in 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger juice just before you blend., It’ll be subtle but worth the underlying heat.

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No.3: The Havana Club Cuba Libre…

3. A Very Cuban, Cuba Libre (aka the Cuban)

50ml Havana Club 3yo Rum

Top up Coca Cola

Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in the rum and squeeze in half a limes worth of juice (less if you prefer), and top up with coca cola (original – all the others distort the classic taste).

2. Jamaican Mule

50ml Jamaican Rum

Top up Ginger Beer

Lime Wedge

Over crushed ice, pour in the rum and top up with the ginger beer. Garnish with the lime wedge (giving the drinker the choice of adding it to the drink – personally I add 25ml lime juice in, but that’s just me!).

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No.1: The Dark N’ Stormy

1. Bermudan Dark N’ Stormy

50ml Black Rum

12.5ml Fresh Lime Juice

25ml Falernum (Bermudan alcoholic sugar syrup)

Top up with Ginger Ale

‘Goslings Black Seal’ is the rum normally used in this cocktail, but it is hard to find here in the UK. For an easy to find alternative try my personal favourite: ‘The Kraken Black Spiced Rum’ it’s gentle heat and subtle caramel/molasses flavours work very well with the ginger ale.

To make this delicious cocktail the traditional way, build in an ice filled glass the ginger ale, then add a shaken mix of the falernum syrup, lime juice and rum. Stir if you want but the drink should look like the picture above if you do it right…

Top Tip: For an added hit of fresh heat try adding a couple of teaspoons of fresh pressed ginger juice.

Dinner at a Mexican. Drinks there too!

So themed restaurants… What’s the deal?

Well sometimes I like a change. A change is good right?

This post is all about the ‘outing’ for my 26th birthday. I’ve always wanted to go to Chiquitos and try their cocktails, and as I rarely get to treat myself to a meal out; I felt it was the right time for a Mexican.

First let’s talk about the food, it’s unusual for me to discuss food on this blog I know, but for the sake of this post please allow it…

“Southern Fried Chicken breast and BBQ Pulled Pork”

…with skin on fries, onion rings and coleslaw.

This one of many choices from their Tex-Mex menu, it wasn’t too spicy but had just enough kick to let you know it had something about it. Pretty much everyone in our group had pulled pork of some variation on their plate so we definitely worked them hard on this dish.

A classic Mexican dish, like those you can expect to be served at Chiquito's
A classic Mexican dish, like those you can expect to be served at Chiquito’s

It was a great tasting meal. One which, when compared to other similar restaurants (such as Frankie & Benny’s) was far superior in every way. The member of staff we had was friendly and happy to help however he could, as well as suggesting the best way for us to order so as to save a little more money. So to summarise: Fantastic food, fantastic service and overall a fantastic day out.

Chiquito - A fantastically themed Mexican Restaurant & Bar.
Chiquito – A fantastically themed Mexican Restaurant & Bar.

So now let us move on to important section: the cocktails…

The first thing I do in places like this, is pick up the drinks menu and flip straight to the cocktail section. No, not because I’m set to get hammered, but I in fact like to have a brows and see what cocktails they have from a professional point of view. You can really tell a lot about the companies stance on cocktails from their menu: If it’s just classic cocktails like the Margarita and sea breeze then you know they don’t really care as much as they should (you’ll also find their beer/wine selection is rather large too). However if they have some themed cocktails and even a nice selection of the relevant themed spirit (in this case it’s a Mexican restaurant so Tequila would be the spirit of choice) then you know they have thought a lot about what they can offer and what cocktails are within the theme. Unsurprisingly I prefer the latter when I check out a restaurant.

If I go to an General American (U.S.A.) themed bar, id assume bourbon/vodka drinks would be the specific spirit, likewise I went to an Italian restaurant I’d like to see some Amaretto, Limoncello, Grappa & other aperitif’s on the menu. It’s a simple case of fitting the specific spirits to the theme, something a lot of restaurants do not tend to do (I find Frankie & Benny’s are guilty of this among others).

Chiquito’s have a very extensive collection of ‘themed’ and ‘neutral’ cocktails, as well as having different sections for vodka, rum and, of course, several pages dedicated to tequila (including the very nice touch of offering a cheeseboard style selection of their ‘premium’ tequilas).

Even with all the choice on offer (around 14 pages give or take), from great sounding cocktails like: “The June Bug” and the refreshingly sounding “Key West Cooler”. Yet it was surprisingly easy to pick the first cocktail the “Dark ‘N Stormy”.

Now in my true ‘Rum bandit’ form, I went straight to the Rum section of the menu. This was met with what can only be called ‘fate’. At the top of the list, was a pretty looking recipe going by the name of “Dark ‘N Stormy”.

Now I’ve been making these at my home with real (freshly squeezed) lime juice, fiery ginger beer and a whole host of sugar syrups/cordials for flavour tweaks (my favourite recipe is below)…

My Favoured Home-Made Dark ‘N Stormy Recipe

2 measure Kraken Black Spiced Rum

1 measure Elderflower cordial

½ measure lime juice

Top up Sainsbury’s Fiery Ginger beer

Build this drink in the order given, over ice in a tall Collins glass. Top up with the ginger beer and stir before serving with 2 straws and a lime wedge for garnish.

So naturally I felt impelled to try this first. I see from the menu that they make it with proper Bermudan Rum, Goslings Black Seal Rum – no less, and mixed in with Goslings Ginger Beer.

Now that’s all well and good (COCKTAIL SNOB ALERT), but the picture shows it also having a lime wedge floated on top (in an attractive jam jar glass as well) but there is NO mention of the Falernum that should ideally be involved (although in almost all cases simple sugar syrup would be used – although they make no mention of this either)…

Note: Sugar Syrup/Falernum (slightly alcoholic Bermudan sugar syrup), are in fact optional ingredients and as such did not affect the review at the end of this post…

As far as I could see their typical recipe is as follows:

Chiquito’s Dark ‘N Stormy

1 measure Goslings Black Seal Rum

Top up Goslings Ginger Beer

Wedge of lime to garnish.

Now this recipe is basic, at best. Taking into consideration the prices and the fact that the drinks come secondary to the food; the drink is pretty good. Simple and effective, it’s not going to win awards, but what they lack in detail they make up for by serving it in the pretty jam jar glasses.

Although technically speaking the above recipe is the classic Dark ‘N Stormy recipe, the drink I was given contained no lime, in fact the first one had a lemon slice instead. Whilst it may only look like a superficial mistake, the taste the lemon (or worse yet a lack of lime) gave to the drink skewed the flavour slightly. It is a shame as they are one of the very few places licensed to sell Goslings in the UK. The only thing I will say in their defence is that it was first thing on Easter Sunday that we had this meal. And as such, I shall return next week to see if the lime improves the flavour from the drink I had (in which case I shall publish a re-review of the cocktail).

Next up: Mai Tai.

Now this cocktail is rather famous as rum based exotic cocktails go. Bought for me by my friends (after several ‘this is the one I will have next’ comments) this drink was slightly longer and fruitier than expected. Also it’s worth noting that there was a flavour I could not quite put my finger on, and it kind of ruined the drink if I’m honest. All in all it came down to the drink having too many flavours and nothing to tie them altogether (like some fresh lime juice for example).

Compare these two very different recipes:

Classic Mai Tai recipe:

1 measure White Rum

1 measure Golden Rum

1 measure Dark Rum

½ measure Lime Juice

½ measure Orgeat Syrup

½ measure Orange Curacao

Top Tip: this is the most universally accepted ‘Trader Vic’ style Mai Tai.

Chiquito’s Mai Tai recipe:

Bacardi Rum

Triple Sec

Apricot Liqueur

Pineapple Juice

Grenadine Syrup

Note: I couldn’t gauge the amount of each ingredient used in the Chiquito recipe, although I assume it was similar measurements to the classic (with some fruit juice to lengthen the drink).

The thing with the Mai Tai is that back during the day, the recipe was kept secret. This mean recipes had to be made by taste, and well, let’s just say sometimes you’ll get Pineapple juice, but most of the time (rightly so) you wouldn’t.

The problem I have here is that the drink was slightly too sweet, and there was nothing holding all the flavours together. If you work for Chiquito’s then take note: take out the pineapple juice and maybe try something like cranberry juice, although it would be further from a Mai Tai, it would taste ten times better (especially when you add in the lime juice). I suppose the thing with ‘tiki’ style drinks like these is that tropical juices have the ability of lengthening the drink, without taking away from its exotic taste, which is obviously what they’ve gone for.

I believe that is what Chiquito’s have done with their version, made it both economically viable as well as easier on the alcohol so it is more popular among those not use to it (people who will try it when eating there – as opposed to off the street drinkers).

Next up: the Alabama Slammer

This cocktail is vodka based but still slightly fruity. I thought this to be a pretty good end to the trials, as it was rather exotic but also had a slightly deep south feel.

Chiquitos Alabama Slammer recipe:

Eristoff Vodka

Southern Comfort

Disaronno Amaretto

Orange Juice

Grenadine Syrup

Note: Again I couldn’t gauge how much of each ingredient was used, but I’d imagine it was 2 Vodka, 1 SoCo, ½ Amaretto, 2 OJ and ½ Grenadine… although that’s just an educated guess…

Now for the hard part… Let me explain: As with most cocktails, especially ones not commonly known, the difference in recipes can be endless. Most of these recipes use the same ingredients, but in different amounts, whilst some use completely different ingredients altogether…

The most consistent recipe I could find actually included Sloe Gin:

A classic Alabama Slammer cocktail recipe could be:

1 measure Southern Comfort

1 measure Vodka

1 measure Amaretto

1 measure Sloe Gin

2 measures Orange Juice

Dash Grenadine

Top Tip: the vodka and SoCo measures in this drink are interchangeable. If you prefer more SoCo then balance the alcohol more to your tastes, just make sure it still works out to the same measure amounts, i.e. 1.5 measures SoCo – ½ measure vodka).

Note: For any of you out there thinking “that sure looks a little like a Long Island Iced-Tea” you’re kind of right as some people do in fact call it the Long Island Iced Tea of the south…

Chiquito’s Mexican Bar & Grill; a summary of the day…

So Chiquito’s is a well-known bar/restaurant chain over here in the UK, arguably not as popular as Frankie & Benny’s (although they are both owned by the same parent company!). My personal preference (along with most of my friends’) is Chiquito’s. This is not just because of their superior menus (both food and drink menus are much more thought out) and food quality, but also the quality of their staff. The members of staff in Chiquito’s always seem like they enjoy working there, which I always find is better for morale in any business (and its customers). You also get a sense of knowledge from most of their staff.

In regards to the food served this time around, there was not a complaint to be found. The cocktails were good quality for the establishment in which they were served. Let’s face it; you don’t go to restaurants like this and expect the best cocktails in the world, but you still expect quality. And they were good enough for the quality you’d expect.

Whilst not necessarily all the classic recipes, they have added their own flavours and given them a tex-mex vibe. This makes the drinks a little longer, and arguably easier to drink with the meals, but they make up for this by having a large variety of cocktails using different spirits.

The Tequila: How Mexican do you want to go?

Tequila is by all accounts the most common spirit associated with Mexico. And as a Mexican themed restaurant, you’d assume that chiquito’s would have some variety in the tequila they serve. This is something they have not overlooked. When walking into the bar area and looking across the copious amount of bottles on display you’ll notice the big names; Jack Daniels, Eristoff Vodka, Goslings Black Seal Rum. But look closer and you’ll also see a rather extensive collection of Tequila’s. These brands are listed here (please forgive me for any missed, I didn’t have time to write all of them out):

Jose Cuervo Especial,

Jose Cuervo Clasico,

Gran Centenario Reposado,

Cazadores Anejo,

Patron XO Café,

Don Alvaro.

Tequila’s ranging from the brand leading ‘Jose Cuervo’ to the Ultra-Premium brand ‘Patron’ as well as a taster selection: choose 4 of their tequila’s to try with various complimenting flavours (citrus fruits & cinnamon).

Picture taken from www.Chiquito.co.uk: an example of a tequila samaple board.
Picture taken from http://www.Chiquito.co.uk: an example of a tequila sampling board.
I find this a perfect way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo!

Now for the cocktail reviews: This is a new feature and I’ve tried to be critical, but in a fair manner.

Dark ‘N Stormy

Recipe:

1 measure Goslings Black Seal Rum

Top up Goslings Ginger Beer

Wedge of lime to garnish.

 

Price: £5.50

Presentation      6.5/10

Ingredients         5/10

Taste                     5/10

Overall                 5.5/10

Mai Tai

Recipe:

Bacardi Rum

Triple Sec

Apricot Liqueur

Pineapple Juice

Grenadine Syrup

 

Price: £5.50

Presentation      3/10

Ingredients         7/10

Taste                     5/10

Overall                 5/10

Alabama Slammer

Recipe:

Eristoff Vodka

Southern Comfort

Disaronno Amaretto

Orange Juice

Grenadine Syrup

Price: £5.50

Presentation      5/10

Ingredients         8/10

Taste                     7/10

Overall                 6.7/10

These scores were given from a critical point of view. Although personally the Dark ‘N Stormy was my personal favourite, it was, overall, the bottom rated of the three. The Alabama Slammer benefitted from a nice garnish (the stemmed cherry added a little class to an otherwise dull drink).

The differences between the Alabama Slammer and Mai Tai were minimal, except for a slightly different taste (which you’d expect seeing as one is a rum based cocktail, the other a vodka one) but not enough to tell the drinks apart. This would not be a big issue if it were not for the fact that the drinks looked exactly the same! Minus the cherry of course!