Anna Maria Mai Tai
An “Out of This World” Tropical Cocktail
Let’s go on vacation to Anna Maria Island or your own backyard paradise with the Anna Maria Mai Tai.
But before we shake our way into Paradise, did you know that the Mai Tai was invented in 1944 by Trader Vic (Victor Jules Bergeron) and by Donn the Beachcomber (Donn Beach) in 1933 and that Mai Tai means “out of this world” in Tahitian? The creation of the Mai Tai started the tiki culture. I believe that just about everyone loves all things tiki because as Trader Vic and Donn the Beachcomber intended it to be an escape from reality and a relaxing and fun vacation to a tropical paradise.
I was never into Mai Tai’s thinking they are too sweet. However in 2018 when my husband and I were celebrating my BIG 5-0 in Hawaii (The Big Island), our resort was within walking distance to a Tommy Bahama Restaurant and you know I love walking places. One evening we were dining at Tommy’s and I decided to go tropical and indulge in an ‘umbrella drink’. I chose the Mai Tai. Wow! This Mai Tai was the best I’ve ever had. Tommy’s Mai Tai was not overly sweet and it was a very well balanced drink with no single flavor overpowering the mix but each flavor properly represented. And the drink contained a decent amount of alcohol so I was glad that my husband and I could walk back to our resort after a thoroughly satisfying meal and an amazing tropical drink.
So my goal with the Anna Maria Mai Tai was to create a masterpiece like the one I had a Tommy Bahama Restaurant in Hawaii and in St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota. Last year while quarantined at home, I googled Tommy’s signature cocktail. The recipe is a little cumbersome and the ‘sour mix’ contained egg whites. I embarked on a long experiment to create my own simpler recipe that was still well balanced and perfectly tropical and divine.
I tried making the mai tai without pineapple juice, orgeat, and dark rum. I tried different ratios of the ingredients. It was a tough job but my husband and I drank a lot of less than perfect Mai Tais. After many drinks, I feel I have created an award winning version of the Mai Tai. To get the full complex flavor profile, you will need all the ingredients.
What is orgeat? Firstly, it’s pronounced OHR-ZHAT. Orgeat is a nonalcoholic, almond-based syrup made from toasted almonds, sugar, and water. Depending on the producer, other ingredients may be added for example Liber & Co. adds orange flower water and bitter almond oil. Orgeat is a staple in the Mai Tai and other tiki drinks and the Anna Maria Mai Tai needs it.
Below is the recipe and some notes. I hope you enjoy your Anna Maria Mai Tai. Happy Mini Vacation and don’t forget to Seas The Day and tag #seasthedayflorida.
Serving Size: 1 cocktail
1 ounce Siesta Key silver rum
½ ounce Cointreau orange liqueur
½ ounce Liber & Co. orgeat (almond syrup)
¾ ounce lime juice
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce Doorly’s dark rum (from Barbados)
Measure and pour in each ingredient except the dark rum into shaker.
Fill shaker with ice.
Place lid on shaker and vigorously shake for about 15 seconds.
Strain liquid into highball glass.
Fill glass with ice cubes.
Slowly pour shot of dark rum on top.
Garnish with orchid or a mini umbrella.
Serve and enjoy (responsibly).
I used Siesta Key Silver Rum and tried the Spiced Rum for the floater. Unfortunately, the Spiced Rum fell flat and just wasn’t providing the right level of rich darkness. The recipe needed a darker rum. I went to Total Wine and received several recommendations for dark rum. I picked the Doorly’s since it is from Barbados and I went to Barbados on my honeymoon and I fondly remember (barely) the tropical rum drinks. Doorly’s Dark Rum as the shot on top is perfect but your favorite dark rum will work too.
I used Grand Marnier and Cointreau on separate occasions and I thought both of these orange liqueurs worked well in the recipe.
I have tried 2 brands of almond syrup: Liquid Alchemist Orgeat and Liber & Co. I prefer the Liber & Co. Even though it tastes sweeter and I usually avoid sugary drinks, the Liber has more almond flavor, floral notes (from the orange blossom water) and distinct marzipan note. The more depth of flavor of this syrup add dimension to the tiki drink. I ordered both of these almond syrups from Amazon.