Can you believe that Mixology Monday is 75 installments old this month? Paul Clarke's fantastic idea has sparked tons of creative cocktail recipes and writing over the years, and I really should participate more often -- the deadline and structure are wonderful for getting lazy bloggers like me a-tinkering, and it's always neat to see tons of riffs on the same basic theme. This month's host is book-writin', cocktail-creatin' machine Frederic Yarm over at Cocktail Virgin Slut, and he's set for us the theme of "Flip Flop": "Find a recipe, either new or old, and switch around at least two of the ingredients to sister or cousin ingredients but holding the proportions and some of the ingredients the same. The new recipe should be recognizable as a morph of the old one when viewed side by side."
One drink I've been enamored of this summer has been the classic Mai Tai. Great tiki drinks don't have to have a bajillion ingredients to dazzle you, as long as they're chosen with care and expertly balanced. (Even though there are a bajillion different recipes for a Mai Tai, without even getting into all the variations from different ingredient brands, or all the ways it can be screwed up.) And, given that you can really change up a drink by subbing out an ingredient or two, and given that Sours seem especially given to experimentation in this way since the drink's structure is so robust, the Mai Tai seemed ripe for a flip flop. (Also ripe for a flip flop? The ones I found in the bottom of my closet the other day. But that's some funk that we don't want to taste.)
As Jordan Devereaux notes at Chemistry of the Cocktail, "what's amazing about the Mai Tai is how adaptable it is to other spirits." If you use bourbon instead of rums, you can get a Honi Honi, for instance. However, one distinctive feature of the Mai Tai recipe is its combination of two different rums to achieve the desired effect. (This strikes me as a classic Tiki technique.) This blending approach pays off when you shake up the spirit selection. So if you take that Honi Honi and split the bourbon called for there into equal parts bourbon and bonded rye (and switch the lime to a more bourbon-friendly lemon), you get a Bluegrass Mai Tai, which sounds like a much more varied, richer drink. A Mai Tai made with tequila (or is it a Margarita spiked with orgeat?) is a Pinky Gonzalez, invented by Trader Vic in 1964. And, our host this month even raised the bar with a Sherry Mai Tai, employing an Amontillado and a Pedro Ximénez -- I can't even picture this one and want to take a whack at it.
I attended a Tiki Monday a while back that was sponsored by Brooklyn Gin, and I was looking forward to the possibilities of more gin tiki drinks. Of course, Tiki Mondays impresario Brian Miller created the fantastic (and fantastically complex) Winchester, which he characterizes as "a gin Zombie." Miller and this blog's favorite bartender, Brooklyn Gin's Damon Dyer, served up all sorts of interesting drinks, and I had enough of them that, well, I don't really remember what I had. But it did inspire me to try my hand at mixing several different gins together in a quest for a juniper-y Mai Tai. After some trial and error, I landed on this combination of malty Bols genever, citrusy Brooklyn Gin, and a rum-based orange liqueur. And the name? That comes from what I said the first time I tried this.
- 1 oz. Bols genever
- 1 oz. Brooklyn gin
- 1/2 oz. Creole Shrubb
- 1/2 oz. lime juice
- 1/2 oz. orgeat (I use B.G. Reynolds)
- two drops orange flower water (if using the B.G. Reynolds orgeat)
- 1/4 oz. simple syrup
Shake with ice and pour unstrained into a double rocks glass, and sink the lime half in there. Garnish with a freshly spanked sprig of mint, stand back, and say...