Have I mentioned that I love Tiki drinks? I really do. And while most of the classics rely heavily on rum, there’s no reason a Tiki drink has to use rum. We decided this week to take Tiki’s playfulness to heart and stick to the spirit, though not the letter, of a classic Tiki recipe – a Mezcal Mai Tai that features earthy agave spirits in place of the traditional rum. – Andrew
Mezcal Mai Tai
Combine all the ingredients in a shaker filled two-thirds with ice and shake gently. Strain into a tumbler filled with fresh crushed ice and garnish with a mint bouquet. Enjoy!
Replacing rum with Mezcal and Tequila definitely makes for a very different Mai Tai than usual, with a strong smokiness and a vegetal earthiness running through the drink. But, it’s still recognizable as a Mai Tai, with layers of citrus and fruity, nutty sweetness. This is the perfect sort of drink for introducing a skeptic to Mezcal; you can’t miss the smokiness of this Mexican agave spirit, but it’s mellowed by all that citrus and fruit.
We made another couple of changes to the classic recipe by adding both pineapple juice and passion fruit syrup. Pineapple is a beautiful match to another smokey spirit, Scotch whisky, so we wanted to see if it works as well with Mezcal. And it does! Mezcal and Tequila also have a citrusy sweetness under all that earthiness, and we found that a bit of puckeringly sweet-tart passion fruit syrup helps make this drink feel more cohesive and more like a classic Tiki drink.
Next week: we’ll play around with a Mexican staple, another of our favorite agave drinks, the Paloma!
(Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, where we’ve been posting our experiments before they make their way onto this column!)
Glassware by Liquorary
Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper