Measure & Stir

A Craft Cocktail Blog for the Home Bartender that Focuses on Original Creations Drawn from Culinary Inspiration.


3 Comments

Mai Tai Soft Serve Ice Cream

Hey guys, I hope you’ve been staying cool this summer. Me? I’ve been keeping it -196C with some homemade ice creams and a dewar of LN2. I’ve been especially interested in making small batch ice creams out of some of my favorite classic cocktails.

For my first foray into the world of the glacier, I tried to render a Mai Tai into frozen dairy, and the results were sweet and refreshing.

mai tai icecream

I used this Chefsteps soft serve recipe as my base, and unto this, I added the flavors of a classic Mai Tai; rum, orange liqueur, orgeat syrup, and lime.

Obviously, you can’t pour a bunch of lime juice into sugar and milk, so getting the lime flavor just right was the biggest challenge in producing this dessert. Instead of lime juice, I used essential lime oil, and a little bit of grated lime zest.

Moreover, I have learned in previous experiments that even highly reduced spirits do not stand up to the bold flavors of milk and cream. My approach, therefore, is to add strongly flavored oils and essences to the ice cream base instead, to mimic the flavors of my desired cocktail ingredients. Orange oil is much more effective than cointreau; juniper berries and coriander seeds steeped in milk will convey a much bolder flavor of gin than gin itself.

I chose to use a soft serve base because I wanted this to be a lighter ice cream, and because I was afraid the flavor of the custard would stomp on the already complex tapestry of the Mai Tai. To amp up the rummy flavor, I replaced the white sugar in the base recipe with Demerara sugar, to mimic the flavor of the rum. The end result still didn’t have enough rum flavor, (a good mai tai makes rum the hero) so I ended up serving the final output in a cocktail glass floating on top of a little El Dorado 12.

Also, and I cannot stress this enough, garnish it with a spring of mint. A Mai Tai without mint barely qualifies. Smack the mint in your hand and slap it all around the interior of the glass before you nestle it on top of that ice cream. Yeah girl.

Mai Tai Soft Serve Base
225 g Whole Milk
100 g Demerara Sugar
95 g Heavy cream
12 g Nonfat dry milk powder
3.5 g Salt

1 TBSP Torani Orgeat Syrup
A small splash each of essential lime and orange oils
Grated Zest of 3 small limes
375 ml Dark Rum
50 ml Cointreau

Reduce the Rum and Cointreau on a simmer down to 100ml total, stir everything together, and allow the mixture to chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Then make it into ice cream using an ice cream maker or a stand mixer, LN2, and a blowtorch. Obviously, I favor the technique that lets you play with the most dangerous toys.

Stay frosty.


3 Comments

Elena’s Virtue

This is not the version of Elena’s virtue that I intended to make for you, but it is the one I unwittingly made, and therefore, it is the one you get. I first learned about this drink when I was researching the Kingston Club, and it did not take me long to find the original over at Cask Strength. Unfortunately, I googled for it again and instead I found a really gimmicky PDF full of Mai Tai variations in from various Seattle restaurants, and one of them was a different version of Elena’s virtue, published by the same bartender, but modified to include the rum that sponsored the promotional PDF, which was half full of drink recipes and half full of ads for a rum that tricked me.

Anyway, when I went to make the drink, I followed the PDF rather than the blog post, because I was not paying attention, and as a result I did not make the drink that I intended. What I made ended up being pretty good, also, it just did not achieve the goal of a mai tai flavor using only Italian liqueurs. The original omitted the lime juice, and substituted Amaro Nonino in place of rum. Using rum and lime guarantees a flavor much closer to a Mai Tai, but the original also, I am sure, would achieve the impression of a Mai Tai.

Elena’s Virtue

1 oz Aged Rum
.5 oz Amaro Montenegro
.5 oz Lime Juice
.25 oz Tuaca
.25 oz Luxardo Amaretto
.25 oz Ramazzotti

Shake ingredients and strain over crushed ice. Garnish with an orange zest and basil, then pour .25 oz Ramazzotti amaro into a decanter, fill with hickory  smoke, and pour over the drink.
— Mixologist: Andrew Bohrer

I did all of that, except I did not smoke any Ramazotti. Instead, I added a dash of mezcal to .25 oz of Ramazzotti and poured that over the drink.

Let’s face it; you’re probably not going to go around smoking a decanter of Ramazzotti in your home. I certainly don’t care to. Mezcal may not have a hickory flavor, but it certainly adds a lot of smoke. Even though I made the more mainstream version, it’s easy to see how an ounce of Nonino instead of rum, and no lime juice, would be Mai-Tai like. Amaro Montenegro has a noteworthy lime flavor, and the combination of Amaro Nonino and Tuaca does a passable impression of rum, while remaining true to its bitter roots.

Morever, Ramazzotti has a pronounced orange flavor, taking the place of the curacao in this drink, and Amaretto, although made with peach pits, has a flavor very similar to orgeat. All of the elements are there, but they are present in the form of tones of flavor in liqueurs and bitters. Mr. Andrew Bohrer’s drink is very clever, and you should read his blog.


2 Comments

Sun Liquor: Libby’s Mai Tai

I visited the Sun Liquor Lounge for my friend John’s birthday. The Seattle weather gods must have been in a very unusual mood that day, because as I recall it was sunny and warm, and the Mai Tai sounded most appealing to everyone there. I am fond of the Sun Liquor Lounge’s aesthetic of faux orientalism, and I think that their menu is reasonably put together, with an appropriately-sized selection of modern drinks and updates to classics.

I think the menu mostly speaks for itself. Another Bond Girl is a playful and modern take on a Vesper, the Kentucky Cardinal tastefully employs a shrub as its souring agent, and the addition of rhubarb to the Bee’s Knees is a great way to incorporate an unusual and seasonal ingredient. This is all capital stuff.

Everyone in our party, however, opted to drink the Libby’s Mai Tai. I was a bit skeptical, because the drink as described is a pretty significant departure from the classic Mai Tai, which calls for no grenadine and no pineapple juice, and for orange liqueur instead of orange juice. I quite bravely ordered one, anyway. As you can see, it came in a tremendously large tiki glass:

The bartender built the drink in glass, neither stirring nor shaking. Such constructions are a delicate procedure, in which the order of the pours matters, because each ingredient has a different weight, and a proper integration requires that each ingredient be heavier than the last so that they will all fall in together. One upside to a skillful in-glass construction is that it produces beautiful color gradients across the drink, as can be seen here. This is, obviously, the function of the grenadine in the drink, though candidly, I could have done without it.

Although the drink definitely caters to a sweet-craving palate, it was not cloying and it is highly appropriate to the tiki genre. Still, one of my favorite parts of drinking a mai tai is the aroma of fresh mint from the garnish, which was sadly absent. Even so, I like the Sun Liquor lounge and I think their style and the quality of their drinks is respectable without being pretentious.

If you want to make their Mai Tai, you’re going to need some fresh grenadine, which you can make by combining equal parts of fresh pomegranate juice and sugar, and shaking them together until they are fully integrated. Caster’s sugar will dissolve better than regular white sugar, but either works. The critical thing with grenadine is to never heat it up. The best flavor comes from a cold process; heating it will cause many of the darker, earthier tones in the juice to break down, leaving only a candy sweetness. I’m going to give you Jefferey Morgenthaler‘s recipe, even though I haven’t tried it with the pomegranate molasses.

Grenadine
2 cups Fresh Pomegranate Juice (approximately two large pomegranates) or POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice
2 cups Unbleached Sugar
2 oz Pomegranate Molasses
1 tsp Orange Flower Water

This is probably more than you need for your home bar, so I would probably halve it. If you add an ounce of vodka or neutral grain spirit, it will preserve the syrup for about a month. I like my Mai Tais a little dryer than the one at Sun Liquor, so if I were to recreate it, I would start here:

Libby’s Mai Tai?

1 oz Dark Rum
1 oz Light Rum
1 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice
.5 oz Fresh Orange Juice
1.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
.5 oz Orgeat syrup
.5 oz Grenadine

Shake over ice and double-strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a mint sprig, damnit.

Keep in mind that I have not tasted this recipe, and it’s probably not exactly right. I guarantee my version uses more lime juice than theirs did, but then, I was trying to dry it out. If you want a more accurate recreation, I would drop the lime down to one ounce. With so much sweet fruit juice, you’re going to end up with something a little heavier than you want in the summer, maybe.


2 Comments

Mai Ta-IPA

Happy Thursday! I hope you had a great fourth of July. After all that time in the heat, it’s time to cool down with one of my favorite drinks, the Mai Tai.

When I encountered this variant from Jacob Grier, I knew that I had to try it. I diverged slightly from his formulation, in that I used the traditional Mai Tai garnishes of mint leaves and a smashed half lime, whereas he used a cherry. I also used a shorter glass, because I wanted to highlight the experience of inhaling the aroma of the garnish.

For the IPA, We (that is, I and my usual confederates) decided to use Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA, and I took the opportunity to use the last of the Orgeat from last week.

Mai Ta-IPA

1 oz El Dorado white rum (Cruzan)
1 oz El Dorado 8 year aged rum (Matusalem Clasico 10)
1 1/2 oz IPA (Dogfish Head 90 Minute)
1 oz lime juice
3/4 oz Orgeat (Homemade)
1/2 oz Orange Liqueur (Clement Creole Shrub)

Shake all but IPA over ice and double-strain over fresh ice. Top with IPA and garnish with mint leaves and a smashed half-lime shell.

I was drawn to this recipe because I thought the IPA would be an unusual way to add bitterness to a drink that relies on citrus to be sour and bright. I have lost untold hours of sleep looking for a way to combine bitterness and sourness in interesting ways, and the sad truth is that these types of flavors don’t play all that well together. IPA accomplishes this marriage effortlessly, by combining the sourness of fermentation with the bitterness of hops.

To be honest, I didn’t care for the beery sourness of this drink on top of the other flavors in the Mai Tai — but then, when it comes to Mai Tais, I am a bit of a purist. This was actually the first drink I have mixed with beer, and while it won’t be the last, it will probably be the last for a while. I enjoy fine beers, but beer and spirits together rarely suit my personal taste. Even so, it was a fun experiment.