Welcome, and Cocktail #1: the Mighty Mai Tai

Welcome to Garnishes The Size of Your Head where each week for a year, I will explore, mix, photograph, and drink a new exotic cocktail. As a lover of exotic and tiki cocktails, I actually don't know much about them, and have not expanded my horizons beyond a few staples (like this week's Mai Tai). So, this blog is a little project where I hope to learn more about classic tiki cocktails, their origins, ingredients, and how to mix a better cocktail. My guide in this journey will primarily be the highly regarded Beachbum Berry's Grog Log, written by Jeff Berry - an expert in exotic cocktails. Unlike what I usually do when mixing a cocktail that has slightly unusual ingredients (do I really need passion fruit syrup?! Nah!), I'm going to do my best to stick strictly to the recipes as I make these cocktails. Along the way I hope to also explore and set the mood for your exotic cocktail mixing and drinking with some of my favorite exotica, surf, and space age pop from the 1950s and 60s. Thanks for checking it out, and let's get it started!

Cocktail #1: The Mai Tai

As I looked into making this drink, I found that it has a dramatic and varied history. I'm not going to repeat it all here, so if you're interested read about it here. There seem to be endless versions of mai tai recipes in books and on the web. But I'm going to stick with Beachbum Berry's version, with which he tries his best to stick to the Trader Vic original from 1944:

1 oz. fresh lime juice
0.5 oz. orange Curacao
0.50 oz. orgeat syrup (you can get the mass market stuff here, or Beachbum Berry's version here.)
0.25 oz. rock candy syrup
2 oz. aged Jamaican rum (I used Myers's)

Add at least two cups of crushed ice to a cocktail shaker, and add the above ingredients, and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Serve in a double old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice and the spent lime shell. Garnish with a sprig of mint. Cheers!

Making this according to the recipe, using the correct type of rum, the correct measurements, etc. really made a difference. It wasn't overpoweringly boozy, sweet, or sour - hence why the mai tai is such a great drink. Using the mint, you get a nice bouquet of mint scent when you take each sip -- absolutely delightful.

On the hi-fi today, I've got some Martin Denny spinning. Here's his Quiet Village record in its entirety:


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