Inspired by the chilly weather we've been experiencing this week here in California, I decided to find a drink with psychologically warming effects, as opposed to the hot toddy's instantaneous comfort.
The mai tai is a classic California drink popularized during the post-World War II restaurateur obsession with all things tropical and tiki. Rumor has it Don the Beachcomber invented the drink sometime in the 1930s, though it's also reported the drink was invented at a restaurant in Oakland in the '40s. Who knows? While we sit here debating historical minutiae, we're missing out on valuable drinking time.
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The beauty of a place like Scott's Restaurant and Bar in Costa Mesa is that its upscale clientele demands a competent wait staff capable of mixing basic drinks. Too often, a thirsty patron will walk into a bar looking for a classic such as a mai tai, or even a Manhattan, only to be met with a blank stare from a slack-jawed barback. Scott's, on the other hand, competently pours a sweet, tropical-themed drink packing a nice little wallop. Here's the breakdown, which is open to experimentation:
1 part Malibu rum
1 part pineapple juice
1 part grenadine
1 part Myer's dark rum
Though the drink is usually garnished with a pineapple and cherry, Scott's forgoes this last embelishment, instead pouring the drink into a long-stemmed glass with a flared rim.
The result was a sweet little sipper evoking images of palm trees and grass skirts. As mentioned before, it will quickly put you on your arse. Despite the drink's fruitiness, there is no room for the alcoholic in denial to delude himself--the flavor of the booze is clearly present, as is its effect immediate. So enjoy, be careful, and designate a driver, rummy.