My Rum and Tiki journey has reached a year and what a ride! I’ve learned to much but still have a long way to go! As I sit on the Beach down in Key Biscayne (island off Miami) I sip a frozen mojito (highly recommended) and reflect on my learnings so far.
I figure the gateway to the Caribbean is as good a place as ever to summarize my lessons thus far.
So, in no particular order…
- If the drink menu says “Mai Tai = spiced rum and fruit juices” then that is a hard pass! I can accept a slight variation from Trader Vic’s Original Recipe but it better have fresh juice and aged, quality rum.
- There is no substitute for fresh squeezed lime juice (or my special Frozen squeezed juice).
- Finding a quality rum at the basic bar is near impossible. Main stream bars haven’t caught on… most just carry Bacardi, Captain Morgan and then they think they are fancy if they have Meyers.
- I’ve tried a decent number of rums over the past year but still think Appleton Estate Reserve is my favorite multi-use mixing rum. It is the go to for my Mai Tai and many other drinks.
- For sipping, still keeping Plantation 20th anniversary on the top of the shelf (though I won’t lie that Zacapa is working its way up).
- If you are lucky enough to find a bartender who knows rums then talk as much as you can to them! They will share what they like and will enjoy the conversation enough, usually, to let you sample.
- Overproof rum doesn’t have to taste like rubbing alcohol… get some Plantation OFTD! It is a powerful ally (in the right quantities).
- There is never enough self space in an at home-Tiki-Bar-in-progress.
- Always buy the Tiki mug that comes with the drink, you’ll regret it if you don’t.
- Take your time and measure your drinks… you wouldn’t make a soufflé by just eyeballing it, don’t compromise on a perfectly crafted cocktail.
- Your tiki bar will never be finished… both decorating and stocking with rum/liquor/mixers.
- The Tiki Community takes care of their own! Thank you to Trader Vic’s, Florida Mermaid Rum, the staff at the Marriott Denver South and Diplomatico Rum for their support.
So there ya go, some of the lessons in Trader Jay’s first year! Here’s to many more Tiki-rific years to come!