A few weekends ago, I was the unofficial bartender at a friend's place for a Carnival Party, fulfilling a long-held desire to try a real Mai Tai...which, by the way, is really good. Reaalllly good. I headed over to Serious Eats to find the recipes for the difficult-to-find ingredients for tiki drinks, because, really, making these things for just yourself is silly. It's nice to find an excuse, or, failing that, to simply make up an excuse. And always juice more limes than you think you'll need. That is my best lesson from the evening, I think.
Though I didn't end up making allspice dram, it's a recipe worth trying, I think. Both orgeat and falernum weren't difficult to make, but time-consuming, absolutely.
2 cups raw almonds, sliced or chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon orange flower water (available at Indian or Middle Eastern grocery stores)
1 ounce vodka
1. Toast almonds at 400°F for 4 minutes, shaking after 2 minutes.
2. Cool almonds and then pulverize them with a blender or food processor.
3. In a saucepan, cook the sugar and water on medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture starts to boil, about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
4. Add pulverized almonds and simmer on low heat, stirring frequently. When mixture is about to boil, remove from heat and cover. Let it sit for a minimum of 3 hours and no more than 12 hours.
5. Strain steeped mixture through three layers of cheesecloth into a bowl, squeezing the cloth as you go.
6. Add orange flower water and vodka, then stir. Funnel into glass jar or bottle.
***I used the leftover sugary almond bits as as a mix-in for my yogurt, but if you spread it on a silpat and bake for a bit, I have a feeling it'd make wonderful brittle.***
1/3 cup sliced, raw almonds
30 whole cloves
1/2 cup of light rum
2/3 cup of water
1/2 cup of sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and toast the almonds on a cookie sheet until slightly darkened and fragrant, about five minutes. Be careful not to let them burn. Let cool before using.
2. Place the almonds and cloves in a sealable glass jar and pour in the rum. Shake and let steep 2 days. (For a less intense clove flavor, steep 1 day.)
3. Zest the limes, being sure no white pith is included. Set aside four of the limes for use in the rest of this recipe, and reserve the rest for another project. Add lime zest to the jar. At this point you can also add other spices, if desired. Shake and let steep for 1 day, and then strain through cheesecloth, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible.
4. Juice four of the limes, and strain the juice into a sauce pot. Add water and sugar, then bring to a boil on medium heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Let syrup cool, then combine with the strained almond and clove infusion. Strain mixture through a coffee filter, if desired, then let it rest for an additional 12 hours before use.
The signature drinks of the night were printed out so party-goers could find one they liked:
...probably called such because, as a three-shot drink, it packs a punch.
3 ounces dark rum
1 ounce simple syurp
3/4 ounce lime juice
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine ingredients in a tall glass and fill with crushed ice. Swizzle with a bar spoon until a frost forms on the outside of the glass. The ice will settle as you do this; add more crushed ice to fill.
2 ounces rum
1 ounce lime
1/2 ounce curaçao***
1/4 ounce orgeat
1/4 ounce vanilla simple syrup
Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake well for 10 seconds and strain.
***poor dyslexic me finally found out that curaçao, I thought was pronounced cur-akk-ow, is actually pronounced cure-a-so (it's also the oft-dyed liquor found in bright blue tropical drinks at your neighborhood Applebee's). But--there's another drink called cachaça which I confused it with, pronounced ca-sha-sa. I knew a friend of mine had cachaça that she used to make caipirinhas, so when I read the Mai Tai recipe I thought we were set! ...alas, I think the moral of the story is that ç and I do not get along, but that substituting cachaça in a Mai Tai is not a bad thing.***
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce passion fruit syrup (passionfruit juice from Trader Joe's boiled down into a syrup)
1/4 ounce falernum
1/4 ounce orgeat
1 1/4 ounce gin
1 cup crushed ice
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour unstrained into a tall glass.