Mai Tai Styles: Hawaii vs. California (with orgeat recipe)

The Mercury News compares the Hawaiian and Californian versions of the Mai Tai … and comes to the conclusion they’re both delicious. I agree. The article includes the orgeat recipe from the DIY Cocktails book. Making your own orgeat (almond syrup) is easy, and it tastes great in coffee and other drinks, too.

Here’s my Mai Tai recipe. As a California native, I guess it’s no surprise it’s California-style. (Although I’ve had my share of Mai Tais at the Royal Hawaiian in Waikiki … and those are amazing.)

Tiki and Tropical Drinks

Painkiller from Chow

I’ll soon be heading to Oahu to sip umbrella drinks by the beach. But no matter where you are, your cocktail shaker can transport you to a tropical place. Tiki drinks aren’t just for summer! Just make sure you’re all stocked up on rum. Here are some fun ones to try:

Banana Daiquiri ~ This is very simple for a tropical drink—even though blending is involved, it’s only a few common ingredients. And the result is refreshing and surprisingly delicious.

Mr. Bali Hai ~ A little bit of coffee flavor perks up this tiki cocktail. You wouldn’t think coffee and pineapple would go so well together. But they most definitely do!

Royal Bermuda Yacht Club ~ This is a fun take on the Daiquiri, with Cointreau and Falernum. You can easily make your own falernum, if you don’t already have some.

Planter’s Punch ~ No two recipes for this tiki classic are the same. This recipe has a little bit of sweetness without the avalanche of fruit flavors that can be overwhelming in some versions.

Painkiller ~ Creamy coconut with rum and orange … now that’s what you sip in paradise! Transform your living room into a tropical getaway with this tiki treat.

Planter’s Punch

Every May we seem to have a heat wave here in Sonoma County. And while it seems to be good for my vegetable garden, I’m wilting like a delicate flower over here. Time for some punch!

Planter’s Punch is one of those fabulous tiki drinks where no two recipes are the same. Some have a bunch of fruit juice and syrups; others are more focused on rum, lime, and sugar. I like it in the middle, with a little bit of sweetness but not an avalanche of fruit flavors.

My version uses homemade grenadine (which is very easy to make and has a more complex sweet and tart flavor … but if you don’t want to make it yourself, be sure to buy real pomegranate grenadine and not neon red corn syrup mistakenly called grenadine). Feel free to add orange or pineapple juice if you want something a little lighter and more fruity.

Planter’s Punch

3 ounces dark rum (Jamaican rum will do the trick!)
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce DIY grenadine
3/4 ounce lime juice
3 dashes Angostura bitters

Pour all ingredients into a Collins or tall glass. Add crushed ice and stir, then top off with a little more crushed ice. Garnish creatively! It’s a tiki drink, after all.

Photo by Jackson Stakeman