Cocktail of the Week – Mai Tai

Elinor and I are big fans of Food Network UK, which started on UK digital TV last year.

All of their programmes cover food (unsurprisingly) and the vast majority of them are made by the original, US-based Food Network.

Watching American cookery programmes can lead to some degree of confusion. For a country that has the same language as the UK (more or less) the American names for foodstuffs can be surprisingly different.

What for instance is cilantro? Or arugula? (Coriander and rocket, apparently.) And why is “herbs” pronounced “erbs”?

Nonetheless, we still enjoy watching the programmes. And even better, some of them feature cocktails!

And this is one of them I saw it being made this week by Ina Garten, who’s effectively the American Delia Smith (although I don’t believe she’s a Norwich City fan).

It’s a version of the Mai Tai, which seems appropriate as summer has finally arrived in the UK.

The Mai Tai was created during the Second World War and was part of the tiki culture that emerged in mid-twentieth century America. Who created it is the source of some dispute – some people say it was Trader Vic, while others support Don the Beachcomber. (No, I am not making this up.)

Mai Tai is means “good” in Tahitian and was apparently shouted by the first Tahitian who drank one. There’s lots of different variants; Vic and Don both had different recipes and I don’t think I saw the same Mai Tai recipe in any of my cocktail books.

Mai Tai

2 msrs Bacardi

1 msr Cointreau

1 msr orange juice

1 msr lime juice

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with lots of ice, shake and pour into highball glasses half filled with ice. Garnish with orange and cherry. (And any other fruit that strikes your fancy. Tiki is not known for understatement.) 

This has a lot of rum in it and is pretty powerful. It’s also very citrusy – refreshing, but with a definite bite.

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3 Responses to Cocktail of the Week – Mai Tai

  1. Maria says:

    I hate to burst your bubble, but I have both cilantro and coriander In my kitchen, and they are very different. Cilantro is a leafy herb, sort of citrusy tasting. Used a lot in Mexican food. Arugala is a small, strong tasting lettuce type thing. No idea what rocket is, so not sure if that’s the same.

    Herb is pronounced Erb so we don’t confuse it with a guy named Herb 🙂

    • Maria says:

      I must correct myself! Apparently coriander is the ground up seeds, and cilantro is the leaf, but they’re are of the same plant.

      I stand my ground on the herb/erb conundrum though.

      • That’s what I thought, although I have to admit that the American idea of giving the seeds and leaves completely different name probably leads to less confusion in recipes (unless it’s a British person reading the recipe.)

        We may have to agree to disagree on the pronounciation of “herb”…

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