As my (fake) tiki bar started to come together I figured that all great, well visited bars need a House Cocktail… something that people feel like they MUST have in order to get the full experience. If you go to Trader Vic’s, you know that you have to order a Mai Tai… when you visit Don’s, and now Latitude 29, you cannot leave without tasting a Zombie… you need to bring a few friends to the Mai Kai to make sure you can order the Mystery Drink… and you should make it a goal to give Smuggler’s Cove’s secret recipe Rum Barrel a try.
So, a few months back I set out to make such a drink. I started much the same way that the Rum Runner was invented down at the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar in Islamorada, Florida, by focusing on what rum I had a plethora of. However, different from the Rum Runner (which was trying to move inventory out), I wanted to make sure I was using rums that I would always have on hand. The first rum was pretty obvious to me… a Coconut Rum… this was obvious for a few different reasons:
1) I love coconut
2) my last name is Cocorullo so anything with a “coco” wins in my book and
3) I could use the “coco” as part of the drink’s name.
I use Cruzan Coconut Rum… I enjoy that it is made in the U.S. Virgin Islands and can usually pick up a few bottles for cheap when visiting St. Thomas.
I wanted at least one more rum and my 1.75L bottle of Kraken Black Rum was staring me right in the face. (I love it for my Dark and Stormys.) I figured the Black would be a nice contrast to the clear Coconut.
Now that I decided on the rum, it was time to take my first real stab at “mixology”. I decided to use Vic’s Mai Tai recipe as my road map and see where that would take me.
I took the lime juice and replaced it with pineapple juice (seemed like a good start). Then I looked at the demerara simple syrup and decided not to change out anything there. Next on the list was the orange curacao, which I didn’t have in stock at the time. I did, however, have Grand Marnier. I figured bringing it up a notch couldn’t hurt.
Now I had my rums, I had my sweet, I had my sour(ish) and had a slightly different orange flavor… which left the orgeat (almond). I didn’t want to just use orgeat… then it really just would be a coconut/pineapple mai tai and that was not what I was going for. After pulling out every bottle under the bar, I looked up at one of my decorative shelves and there, like a shining beacon of tiki-ness, was my beautiful bottle of Trader Vic’s Macadamia Nut Liqueur. (My wife and I discovered the Macadamia Nut liqueur about a year ago where we bought it for our tiki/Christmas/housewarming party and it has been a staple since.) I thought, “orgeat is made from almonds… almonds are nuts… macadamias are nuts… how can this not work?”
The addition of the Trader Vic’s Mac Nut made it all come together as a nice little package and led to the simple but ideal name for the House Drink of Trader Jay’s. It is not an extremely original name but it fits perfectly… The Coco Nut
I tweaked the amounts a little during the first few mixes (the Kraken was overpowering at first, and not allowing the coconut and macadamia nut to shine through). But after about three tries I nailed it!
So come on by, check out our menu (yes, I have ONE copy) and read through the options… but then order a Coco Nut because, of course, you will feel like you have to!
- ¾ oz pineapple juice
- ¼ oz Mai Tai Simple Syrup
- ¼ oz Trader Vic’s Macadamia Nut Liqueur
- ½ oz orange liqueur (Grand Marnier recommended)
- 1 oz coconut rum
- ½ oz black rum
- pineapple and/or lime for garnish
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, except the garnish. Shake and strain into a rocks glass (or tiki mug, prefrably a coconut) filled with crushed ice. Garnish with pineapple and/or lime.