The social drinker: Splash out and treat yourself to a good rum

The United States is the spiritual home of the cocktail. No nation has shown more ingenuity when it comes to inventing, or refining, cocktails than the home of our American cousins.

his constant urge to tinker has led to many astonishing triumphs but it can go too far and the Mai Tai is a case in point. This is a fine tropical drink, one of the finest, in fact – but it is all too commonly served up as a bastardised version laden with fruit juice and does no justice to the original.

If you order a Mai Tai in one of America’s many (otherwise excellent) cocktail bars, you are likely to be served with a sickly sweet concoction made up of cheap rum and half-a-dozen fruit juices.

The real Mai Tai, invented back in 1944 by a bartender called Victor Bergeron, only has lime juice in it and that’s all you should use if you are making this classic at home.

Bergeron was running a rum bar in California during World War II when some Tahitian friends arrived. They asked him to make a drink out of a Jamaican rum, so he added some lime juice, almond syrup and orange Curaçao, shook it up and gave it to them and a classic was born.

Bergeron may have invented the drink but he also destroyed it while catering to tourists by adding orange and pineapple juice, as well as grenadine.

This is a great shame because Bergeron’s original version requires just four ingredients. To make it, you simply need two measures of a good quality Jamaican rum; one measure of freshly squeezed lime juice; half a measure of Grand Marnier or Cointreau, and half a measure of the…

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