Saturday, June 2, 2012

Booze of the Week: Mai Tai Liqueur

When you old queens are done gossiping, this old queen would like a drink. – The Queen Mother, from Royal Biographies, David Johnson

Good in a mixed drink, or "on the rocks." Not this particular rock...
The quote above was supposedly said by the Queen Mother to her staff. She had a keen sense of humour. I used this quote because our mothers have so much to do with who we are as adults, and today in the Commonwealth we are celebrating 60 years on the throne of her very famous daughter, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Congratulations, Your Majesty.

After the first straining. Slightly more than 2 cups.
On a more personal note, if there ever was a week when I should need a drink this would be it. We had the misfortune of losing a very large client where I work, the reverberations of which will last for years. Anyone who works in, or has worked in, advertising knows exactly what I mean.

So what better to do than write about a liqueur that, if used injudiciously, could really mess you up. I am writing this at 6am so it’s a bit too early to get into it. I know that from experience.

I also – believe it or not – don’t drink all that much. You may find that odd with all the liqueurs I make, but it’s true. I used to, but not any more. Most of my liqueurs from last year made their way into gift boxes for family and friends last Christmas.

Mai Tai is a hangover (pardon the pun) from my halcyon days when I was in my 20s, when I was far less care worn and far more likely to get into a bit of trouble. 

One such day I remember (if I can accurately say remember…) was one when several of us bought a “pump on” bottle of rum and a bunch of grocery store Mai Tai mix. From there the day went sideways. Can you imagine...

By “pump on” I mean a bottle of rum so large they supply a small vacuum pump with the purchase so you can get the booze out. In other words, a very, very large bottle. I’m not even sure if they still sell them at our local liquor stores. 

A quick search didn’t find anything the size I remember. They have 3000 ml bottles, but I think the one I remember was bigger. (Maybe they keep them in a special room in the back like dirty movies. They should…)

Regardless… enough of my hedonistic early life. What exactly is a Mai Tai? There are many recipes for Mai Tai cocktails, all of which are heavy on the alcohol. They usually consist of amber rum, orange liqueur and lime, plus something sweet to mask it all. C’est dangereux!

If you don’t need to move off your deck for the day, Mai Tai cocktails are an excellent way to enjoy (?) a sunny summer day. Of course this liquer circumvents all the purchasing of different liqueurs for a single liqueur you can cut with something fizzy or citrus juice.

This liqueur makes two very full 375 ml bottles plus a little more. After it was made I gave it a smell, and very small taste. It was exactly as I remember the mix to be. So I guess that means success. I would suggest that you at the very least double the recipe below and make enough to share. There’s no sense in drinking alone…

Mai Tai Liqueur
Prep: 3-4 weeks  |  Yield: about 800 ml  |  20% alc. vol. (a pure guess)
375 ml amber rum
1/4 cup demera sugar
1 navel orange, zest and juice
2 limes, zest and juice
1 cup white sugar
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp almond extract

Wash and slice the orange and limes. Place in a 1 L Mason jar. Pour the sugar over the top and then add the rum. Let sit for 3-4 weeks, shaking occasionally to ensure the sugar dissolves.

After the aging, strain the mixture through a sieve pressing some of the juice from the citrus. Restrain through a sieve lined with fine cotton cloth.

Bring the sugar and water to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool slightly and then add to the infused rum. Then stir in the almond extract.

Bottle and chill before use.

Mai Tai ageing on the left. Two more mystery liqueurs beside it. I guess you'll just
have to come back to the site to see what they are. They'll be ready in 1 week.

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