In New York last week, we enjoyed several tropical/tiki-oriented cocktails at Semma, Grand Army, and Sunken Harbor Club. Inspired, I came home and mixed up a batch of mai tais over the weekend, which are a delightful pairing of tart citrus, dark rum, and nuttiness from almond-based orgeat. Some consider the mai tai “the original tiki drink,” and they certainly have a kind of kitsch appeal to them. Warning: these are easy to drink but potent. These would be really fun to serve up to guests.
1 oz Flor de Cana white rum
1 oz Appleton Estate reserve rum
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz cointreau*
3/4 oz orgeat**
mint spring for garnish
crushed or pebble ice for serving***
Fill a rocks glass with pebble/crushed ice and place in the freezer. Pour all ingredients into the smaller half of a cocktail shaker (we like the weighted shaking tins from Koriko — you’ll need the small and large, which fit together as a shaker set). Then fill that small shaker to the top with ice. Shake for 14 seconds. Strain into a chilled rocks glass using a cocktail strainer and garnish with a spring of mint.
*Most classic recipes call for dry curacao instead of cointreau but we didn’t have any on hand. I must also make a side case for Flor de Cana white rum, which is relatively inexpensive but absolutely delicious. I prefer to most other white rums, especially in daiquiris. It is really light and crisp, with an almost almond/citrus profile.
**We buy our orgeat from Liber & Co (carried on Amazon). We usually make all our own syrups/sweeteners at home and keep them in these squeeze bottles in our fridge (labeled by my trusty label maker), but orgeat is not for the faint of heart. Mr. Magpie did make a batch once and it was wildly labor intensive and then went bad quickly — and it’s not like you’re using a ton of orgeat each week to justify. Mr. Magpie discovered Liber & Co as a super reputable brand that makes great syrups with real ingredients.
***We do not have a crushed ice function on our freezer, and, despite wanting one, do not (yet) have a pebble ice maker. We’ve had a hard time justifying a countertop appliance for such a narrow use case, but when we daydream about re-doing the wet bar we have, we often talk about having one installed in the cabinetry/beneath the sink/etc. That “re-do” will probably not happen for a long, long time (if ever) because the wet bar is perfectly functional as is. (It’s in a little corridor behind our kitchen, next to our pantry). So maybe countertop ice machine it is? I don’t know. Grace Atwood recommends this GE brand one. You can see her review here. Pretty convincing! Anyhow, we currently crush ice the old fashioned way, using a Viski Lewis bag and mallet. The bag is crucial. We used to try to crush ice in a gallon sized plastic baggie, or between two kitchen towels, using a meat mallet, and it was always a disaster — ice shooting out everywhere, the baggie exploding, puddles of water and ice chips everywhere. The Viski bag is made of a thick canvas that naturally absorbs excess water but keeps everything in place and can really take a beating from the hammer without showing any wear. Small but meaningful upgrade. The bag is also great for use if you’re serving up oysters/chilled seafood — we like to crush up a big mound and serve them on a bed of crushed ice.
Final note: These angled jiggers make measuring small amounts of liquid a breeze as you can assess how much you’ve poured from a bird’s eye view vs crouching down to counter level.
Also sharing as a little saveable image here in case you want to download/screenshot/etc:
+I include another great, retro-leaning cocktail recipe here — “a Magpie Tom Collins” as I am mildly fussy about the details, but this one is easier/with less obscure ingredients than the Mai Tai.
+While on this general subject, Hammett has really gorgeous glassware for cocktails, juices, water, etc. I own and adore these gorgeous martini glasses (also great for “up” cocktails), and am drooling over these coupes. I’ve also been thinking of gifting someone these funky little tumblers — she releases them in lots of different shapes, but they sell out fast. Like how good are these (now sold out) ducks?
+Really pretty smocked pink floral dress.
+Love these raffia and pearl earrings (under $50).
+A random thing to get jazzed about, but this printer is truly the best. It’s inexpensive, prints wirelessly from your phone/laptop, is compact enough to even hide in a closet if you need to (that’s where we kept it in NYC so it was out of the way), and takes a long time to run out of ink.
+Keep hearing great things about L’Space’s bikinis — specifically, have heard they are designed for active moms because they hold everything in place. I love the pink color and neckline of this style.
+The details on these smocked little girl’s dresses from Smock London are beyond.
+I do not need another floaty blue maxi dress. I do not need another floaty blue maxi dress. But…oh my gosh is this not divine?
+THIS CLUTCH! Oh my gosh – so dramatic but feminine. And the blue lining would be the perfect “something blue” for a bride.
+Sailboat swim trunks (on sale!) for your little man.
+Having a major moment with Loretta Caponi. I bought one of her smock-neck floral “nightdresses” (but actually can be worn during the day) a few years ago and just realized I have no idea where it went. Like, just went through all my bins and boxes and can’t find it. I’m bereft! From her current season pieces, I love this, this, and this.
+We have a colorful set of chopsticks like these that just spark JOY every time we use them — which is fairly often, because I crave a bowl of pho or ramen at least once a week.
+This Zara girls’ dress is a treasure.
+This patchwork dress is so fabulous. This brand runs on the large side, FYI – I own and adore one of their dresses but runs large.