We would venture to say that most tiki drinks are…
When celebrating Cinco de Mayo, margaritas and palomas usually jump up to the top of menus before rum drinks. But there is no reason that you can’t put a little tequila in your tiki, no matter what day it is! Today, we’re actually using Mezcal in this Mai Tai variant. Mezcal is made from agave plants, but while tequila is only made from blue agave, mezcal can be made with many agave varieties. The agave pinas are roasted in a smokey oven (or sometimes an underground pit) before they even start the fermentation process, which gives the mezcal its distinctive smokiness. Like unaged tequila and rhum agricole, mezcals have some distinctly grassy and vegetal notes to them, so while they’re good in many cocktails, they’re particularly good in cocktails that might use rhum agricole in the first place.
Mezcal is a potent spirit and it can easily overwhelm other ingredients in any cocktail, let alone a mai tai. We find that we use it in a lot of amaro-based cocktails because they can compete with the smokiness. To balance out this mai tai, we used Skipper Dark Rum, which has a strong molasses flavor and made sure that you could still taste rum in the finished cocktail as well as the smoky mezcal. If you don’t have Skipper, stick with another dark rum that has a very strong molasses flavor for the best results.
Our Mezcal Mai Tai is wonderfully smokey, but you can still taste the rum and other flavors in this cocktail – and that what makes it work so well. If you enjoy mezcal, this is sure to be a hit in your bar, too.
Mezcal Mai Tai
1 oz dark rum
1 oz mezcal
1 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz triple sec
1/2 oz agave syrup
1/4 oz orgeat (we used Giffard)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker or mixing glass, fill with ice and shake vigorously until well-chilled. Stain into a double old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a spent lime wheel.