I wish my toes were in the sand as I write this. What would be better than sitting on a beach and sipping a Mai Tai? Unfortunately, I can’t get to a beach this week, so I’ll have to settle for sipping a Mai Tai while sitting in my backyard. When I read the article about Mai Tais on The Atlantic last month, I realized that this cocktail could be a vacation in a glass. A regular weekend quickly becomes more interesting when you have a fruity, tropical cocktail in hand. The article I read mentioned drinks that are like liquid candy and drinks that allow you to taste the rum and tartness. The recipe offered was of the latter type, and I had to try it. It’s made with lime juice, Cointreau, simple syrup, rum, and Orgeat syrup. I’d heard of Orgeat before, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find it locally. First, it’s pronounced or-zha not or-geet, and the important thing about it is its almond flavor. My first stop in my search for it was a well-stocked liquor store, where the person who helped me locate it mispronounced it. Not a good sign. The product I was shown was a big bottle full of artificial flavors, etc. I decided to keep looking. I checked online and learned that Monin brand makes an Orgeat syrup, and it has the exact same ingredients as their almond syrup. So, when I located Monin almond, I went with that.
Now, the recipe from The Atlantic was very specific about the type of rum to use as Appleton 21-year old was mentioned by name. I wasn’t feeling that picky since I had some good, aged rum in the house which we had poured into a decanter, and for the life of me I can’t remember what brand it is. The recipe also suggests floating Demerara rum on top as an option. I skipped that option. Aged rum, lime juice, Cointreau, simple syrup, and Orgeat or almond syrup were placed in a cocktail shaker with ice, it was given a good shaking, and it was poured over crushed ice in a glass. I did follow the instructions regarding garnishing with mint since the mint in my garden hasn’t died yet this year.
One sip of this, and you’ll imagine the sound of waves crashing nearby. It’s the Orgeat that gives it that tropical vibe. It blends with the tart lime and rum and adds a distinctive, happy, rounded flavor. My drink is ready and all I need is the surf, the sand, and a palm tree or two.