I used to think Mai Tais were the tiki version of Long Island Iced Teas — the drink for people looking to get smashed, not necessarily to enjoy a well-crafted cocktail.
Then, in Chicago, we visited the Broken Shaker, and my opinions on Mai Tais were forever changed. In fact, I became obsessed.
If you’re in Chicago, you should probably make a stop at the Broken Shaker. Walk through the lobby of the Freehand hotel lobby and a lounge, and through a wide wooden doorway you can see candles flickering behind a bar to a playlist of old-school reggae.
Apothecary bottles, fresh fruits and pipe cleaner flamingoes set the scene for an experience that verges on too hipster, and a quick glance at the cocktail menu studded with charms like ‘fresh popcorn cordial’ and ‘local butter bitters’ confirms.
We actually almost left because we felt too basic. But, we ordered some drinks, and some more drinks, and then came back a second night.
The star of the show, for me, was their take on the mai tai which included pistachio orgeat.
This is not that mai tai. But, it’s the one that through trial and error has been my signature drink for the past few months.
for 1 drink
1 oz. light rum
1/2 oz. dark rum
1/2 oz. nice rum (I use Zaya)*
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. orgeat (homemade, if possible)
1/2 oz. Cointreau (or other triple sec)**
1 egg white
nutmeg (for garnish)
lime wheel (for garnish)
maraschino cherry (for garnish)
Combine rums, lime juice, orgeat, Cointreau and egg white in shaker. Fill with ice. (I like to use one large cube and 3-4 regular-sized cubes, based on this concept. My unscientific opinion is that the large cube results in a frothier drink.) Shake for 45 seconds. Strain into a double old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with nutmeg, a lime wheel and a maraschino cherry.
*If you’re wary about putting raw egg in your drink, skip it and add this rum as a floater at the end rather than shaking it with the rest of the ingredients.
**I’ve tried making mai tais with Pierre Ferrand and Cointreau and prefer Cointreau.