A Rum Blend Will Do Wonders For Your Mai Tai Cocktail

A Mai Tai is a classic cocktail that you'll find at just about every bar. Typically crafted from a delightful blend of hard rums, liqueurs, syrups, and lime juice, it packs a powerful punch of both alcohol and citrusy tartness. Though seemingly simple, achieving the perfect Mai Tai requires careful layering of ingredients. If not done correctly, the resulting drink will taste flat and unappealing — and you'd be much better off cracking a beer.

The classic recipe, believed to have been invented in 1944 by Vic Bergeron, used rum extracted from a single bottling of 17-year-old Wray & Nephew Jamaican rum. Though there are plenty of bars still serving Mai Tais with this recipe, modern mixologist favor using a blend of two or three kinds of rum in their cocktail. A rum blend allows the mixologist to balance out the characteristic of each spirit and create a more complex flavor profile. For example, they can tamp down a high-ester Jamaican rum with something a bit lighter, like a white rum agricole. The blending of different rums makes the alcohol component of the cocktail a lot more sophisticated and casts a spotlight on the other ingredients in the drink (orgeat, Curaçao liqueur, and lime juice), allowing them to shine.

The secret to a Mai Tai rum blend

The fun part of mixing a rum blend is that it's entirely down to your subjective choices and the flavor profile that you wish to craft. The ultimate goal is to ensure each rum component contributes an element to the overall structure of the blend. This isn't a simple task. You need to have a very deep understanding of each kind of rum, as well as the flavor they offer and their individual characteristics.

For example, an aged, 100% pot still Jamaican rum like the Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry can offer a smokey, intense kick when used alone. But when mixed with a lighter-bodied rhum agricole like the Rhum J.M Blanc, the strong funk can be tempered so that it doesn't overpower all the other ingredients in the cocktail.

After playing with different rums and coming up with your desired flavor profile, consider other factors like ABV, aging, and production methods of your rums-of-choice. A 40% white rum agricole, for example, will offer a different mouth taste compared to a three to eight-year-old, 100% pot still dark rum. But no matter what kind of rum you decide to mix up, it's recommended by most mixologists that you keep the number of rums to a maximum of three, or at most five.