At a recent Mai Tai tasting, Martin Cate of Smuggler’s Cove took second place. Denizen Merchant’s Reserve, which aims to replicate a rum faithful to Trader Vic’s formula, was the rum of choice, complemented by the bar’s proprietary orgeat and rich simple syrup.
- 2 ounces blended aged rum, preferably Denizen Merchant's Reserve 8-Year Rum
- 1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
- 1/2 ounce Smuggler's Cove Orgeat (see Editor's Note)
- 1/4 ounce Mai Tai Rich Simple Syrup (see Editor’s Note)
- 3/4 ounce lime juice
Garnish: spent lime shell and mint sprig
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin and shake with 12 ounces of crushed ice and a few cubes.
- Strain into double rocks glass over ice.
- Garnish with spent lime shell and mint sprig.
Smuggler’s Cove Orgeat:
1 pound blanched almonds (3 1/2 to 4 cups)
4 cups water
5 cups white granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon rose water
1/4 teaspoon orange flower water
2 teaspoons column still lightly aged rum (adds shelf life)
Add the almonds and water to a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Strain almonds and set aside in a large bowl, while also reserving the remaining "almond water" in a separate bowl.
In a food processor, grind 2 cups of the almonds into small, rice-size pieces, about 10 seconds. Slowly add about 11 ounces of the "almond water" to the food processor and blend until the water and almonds combine to an "almond paste," about 10 seconds. Pour contents into a gallon pitcher. Repeat with the remaining almonds and "almond water," and add this second batch of "almond paste" to the first batch.
Let the almond paste cool for about 1 hour. Set a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth over a 4-quart pot. In batches, ladle some of the "almond paste" into a square of cheesecloth in your hand and squeeze out the liquid from the paste over the cheesecloth-lined strainer and into the pot. Discard the dry almond remains. Repeat until all paste has been strained.
Set a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth over a 4-cup glass measuring cup. Pour the almond milk through the cheesecloth-lined strainer into the measuring cup and make note of the yield.
Measure twice as much sugar as the almond milk yield and add to the pot of almond milk. Stir with a whisk over low heat until the sugar is fully incorporated into the milk, creating a thick syrup, about 15 min. Remove the pot from the heat. When the syrup begins to cool add the rose and orange flower waters and the rum. Stir periodically as it cools. Once completely cool, stir vigorously and then strain through a metal-screened or cheesecloth-lined funnel into a sealable storage container. The orgeat will keep, refrigerated, for several weeks.
Mai Tai Rich Simple Syrup:
2 cups water
4 cups demerara sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the demerara sugar and stir vigorously with a whisk (or use an immersion blender) until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute (the water should become clear such that you can see the bottom of the pot). Immediately remove from heat and let cool. Add the vanilla extract and salt and stir to combine. Pour into a lidded bottle or other sealable container and store in the refrigerator. The syrup will keep, refrigerated, for several weeks.