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Friday, August 28, 2015

Mix it up for National Mai Tai Day

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge The Mai Mai Marigny at the Boxing Room - KEVIN REID
  • Kevin Reid
  • The Mai Mai Marigny at the Boxing Room

The Mai Tai is an often misunderstood mixer. The Polynesian mashup of rum, Curacao liqueur, orgeat, and lime juice has long been associated with parasols and faraway beaches requiring more SPF 45 than any San Franciscan would ever own. The truth, however, is that the Mai Tai originated in a land no more exotic, nor tropical, than Oakland, where in 1944 Victor Bergeron of Trader Vic's came up with the idea.

So, as a native cocktail of the Bay Area, it's something of a regional imperative to celebrate National Mai Tai Day with a sense of pride. (It arrives this Sunday, August 30.) Don't be left unprepared. The forecast is calling for a cool 72 degrees, but it's always Mai Tai weather, particularly at these local watering holes whipping up whimsical variations on the East Bay classic. 

At the southern-themed Boxing Room in Hayes Valley, bartender Drew Majoulet has concocted a $12 special for Sunday that he calls his "Mai Mai Marigny." Named after one of the liveliest neighborhoods of New Orleans, his sendup supplants the rum with Genever, lending the drink a delicious depth. “Bols Genever and orgeat are a great combo in general," says Majoulet, "So putting them together in probably the most famous of Orgeat containing drinks — Mai Tai — is a no-brainer. The result is a complex easy drinking delight.” Thankfully, Majoulet came up with a new name for his creation. "Mai Tai" is a Tahitian word for "good," which criminally undersells the beverage he's now peddling. 

Blackbird on Market is about to drop its "mixtape" menu, featuring a collection of cocktails which all reference hip hop song titles. Its Gangster Paradise is a great way to keep it Coolio on Sunday. A subtle play on a Mai Tai, it blends Cana Brava — an exceptionally adept 3-year Panamanian rum, coconut orgeat, and Curaçao. The resulting $10 cocktail, garnished with mint and lime, yields wave upon wave of mind-numbing refreshment. 

At TSK/TSK, Mitch Lagneaux has assembled a comparably alluring elixir, also priced at $10. The Bamboo Hut is built around Rhum Agricole, an earthier approach to the spirit, made with pressed sugar cane, as opposed to molasses. To enhance these tonalities, Lagneaux deploys a cornucopia of sweet and spice; Angostura bitters, apricot liqueur, pineapple gum, even a dash of nutmeg, before it all goes over crushed ice into a Hurricane glass. Going down easy, the drink disguises its potent punch, certain to deliver equal amounts of sun and fun to your Sunday Funday shenanigans. 

Happy National Mai Tai Day!

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About The Author

Brad Japhe

Brad Japhe

I enjoy my whiskey neat, my beer hoppy, and my meat medium rare. I have been covering craft spirits, suds, and gourmet cuisine for a decade, with work published from New York, across Montana, and up and down the Pacific Coast.


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