Editorial note: The recipe below turned out to be so popular that I included it in our book, Minimalist Tiki.
In recent years I’ve vociferously advocated for the purity and sanctity of the classic 1944 Mai Tai. This Victor (“Trader Vic”) Bergeron concoction is arguably the king of all Tiki drinks. Unfortunately, for some misguided souls, the Mai Tai is a catch-all term for whatever random collection of fruit juices, rums, and syrups are on hand behind the bar—rendering this classic one of the most abused cocktail recipes of all time. There’s no pineapple juice in a classic Mai Tai, folks!
However, it’s totally fair game to modernize a Tiki classic and name it something different. The modern Tiki world is full of innovators such as Jason Alexander, Daniel “Doc” Parks, and Justin Wojslaw, who day in and day out push Tiki’s boundaries while retaining respect for the classics. While I don’t put myself in their league, I do occasionally have a decent idea that ends up good enough to share here.
After a particularly long day at work recently, I found myself hankering for a classic ’44 Mai Tai but also hearing the Plantation Rum Stiggins’ Fancy bottle softly calling my name. The obvious idea is to simply use two ounces of Stiggins in the classic ’44 recipe. However, most modern Mai Tai recipes use a blend of Jamaican and Martinique rums, providing a depth that might be hard to pull off with Stiggins alone. Also, I like my Mai Tais with a little extra kick, which is hard to get with an 80 proof rum, delicious as Stiggins is.
The solution I devised is straight from the classic Tiki playbook – a blend of rums. In this case, the Plantation O.F.T.D. Overproof slides perfectly into place. A blend of Jamaican, Bajan and Guyanese rums, the O.F.T.D. packs a lot of flavor and intensity even in small doses. Combining 1.5 ounces of Stiggins with half an ounce of O.F.T.D. creates a fantastic base for a Mai Tai variation and clocks in at 94.5 proof. Perfect!
All that remained was a clever name. I wanted to connect the original drink, the Mai Tai, with the new component – Stiggins. If you’re familiar with the Stiggins’s Fancy backstory, you’ll recall it’s named after the good Reverend Stiggins from the Pickwick Papers of Charles Dickens. I think The Reverend’s Tai is a particularly punny and fitting name.
Mai Tai purists will note that I’ve omitted the rock candy syrup in the recipe below. However, I’ve bumped up the orgeat from the usual quarter ounce. The overall balance is also augmented by the sweetness of the Stiggins. Of course taste preferences are subjective, so tweak the dry curacao and orgeat ratios to your personal taste.
The Reverend’s Tai – Matt Pietrek (Cocktail Wonk)
- 1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
- 0.25 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao (or perhaps Clément Créole Shrubb)
- 0.5 oz orgeat (adjust to taste, depending on sweetness)
- 0.5 oz Plantation Rum O.F.T.D. Overproof
- 1.5 oz Plantation Rum Stiggins’s Fancy
Shake with ice. Serve over fresh crushed ice in a double old fashioned glass.
Garnish with spent lime shell and other festive Tiki staples, e.g. pineapple fronds, orchids, etc