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Lyman was one of the original purveyors of exotica

Day 76, Cocktail 78 

Ahh, to have heard Arthur Lyman in his prime!  I wish I had, but unfortunately, never did.  Lyman, along with Martin Denny was one of the key forces behind what became known as the exotica style of jazz and lounge music.  Today, we’d think of Lyman’s work as being Tiki…and we would be right!  

Music is just one part of Tiki culture.  There’s also food, clothes, barware and, of course, the cocktails to be considered as well.  Just how did Tiki culture come about?  Undoubtly, the roots of Tiki lie within the Pacific theatre of WWII.  Hundreds of thousands of service men (and women!) served in the South Pacific, spanning a geography from Hawaii to Okinawa.  While the rigors of war were at times brutal, our troops did get a taste of the island lifestyle.  When the war ended and they returned home they brought tropical fruit laced drinks, Polynesian and Hawiian food, tropical shirts and inspired music back with them.  The 50’s saw the advent in home luau parties, Tiki style restaurants such as Trader Vic’s (I remember visiting the legendary Kahiki in Columbus, OH with my family as a kid) and the tiki glass. 

I can’t think of a better way to start a week of Tiki than with the original Mai Tai.  The Mai Tai was created by Victor Bergeron for a few of his friends that were visiting from Tahiti.  One of his guests exlaimed that the drink tasted “Maita’i roa ae!”, which figuratively means “Out of this world – the best!”.  Thus, the Mai Tai was born.  

  Mai Tai 

  • 1 oz St. James Martinique rum
  • 1 oz Appleton Estate dark Jamaican rum
  • 1/2 oz curacao
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1/4 oz orgeat syrup
  • 1/4 oz bar syrup

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with 4-5 ice cubes and shake to chill and combine.  Strain into a tiki glass filled with cracked ice.  Garnish with an orange wedge, cherries and pineapple chunk.  Don’t forget the umbrella or, my favorite, the plastic drink monkey! 

This delicious cocktail will take you the beaches of Hawaii, Fiji or any other South Pacific locale you’d like!  It is important to use the St. James and Appleton rums as they each have distinctive flavors that make the Mai Tai what it is.  Substitutions will not yield the same results with this drink, trust me on that one! 

Cheers!

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