Here’s a bitter tiki drink for you: Stormy Mai Tai


Stormy Mai Tai

45ml Angostura Aromatic Bitters
30ml lime juice
22.5ml orgeat
22.5ml curacao
15ml Angostura 7 Year Old to float
Shake all ingredients except for the rum, and strain over ice in an old fashioned glass. Top with crushed ice, float the rum on top, and garnish with a sprig of mint.
Adapted from a recipe by Giuseppe Gonzalez, New York.

By Sam Bygrave
Photography by Rob Palmer
Presented by Luca Capecchi

There’s something hedonistic about this drink. Just looking at the specs for the drink is enough to instil some trepidation in the uninitiated: instead of thriftily doling out bitters into a drink at one or two dashes at a time, with the Stormy Mai Tai you take the top off that Angostura bitters so you can splash out a good measure and a half — a whole 45ml — of the stuff. The drink blushes a deep orangey-red in the glass; as you strain it out, a lush wake of foam settles atop the drink. And the taste of the drink — it’s orgiastic in its amalgamation of flavours, the lime and the orgeat providing the vehicle for the payload of flavour — citrus, aromatic spice, earthy gentian by the bucket load — and drying, give-me-more-of-this-now kind of finish.

How to steps


I’ve long been a fan of Angostura bitters straight up. It’s woefully underappreciated as a shot. I found it unexpectedly one year, in the far north of Wisconsin, on an island out in Lake Michigan. I was there to pick juniper at an event put on by the then nascent Death’s Door Spirits, on Washington Island — a Mid West, American Gothic kind of place. So when we walked into Nielsen Hall, which has been around since the 1800’s, and the bartender suggested a shot of bitters, you kind of felt obliged to do as they do.

Ask the bartender and he’ll tell you that the whole shot of bitters thing (they’ll give you a card to induct you into the ‘Bitters Club’) got started during Prohibition, when they sold Angostura as medicine — the health benefits of which the owner enjoyed: he lived until his nineties, downing a shot each morning.

Of course, cocktails call for bitters all the time — be they Angostura, Peychaud’s or fernets and amari like Campari. But seldom do they go the whole hog and make the bitters the central star of the drink.

The creator of this drink, Giuseppe Gonzalez, as the creator of another bitters-forward drink, the Trinidad Sour. They’re both recipes worthwhile tasting, at least once.


Notes on ingredients:
• The recipe for Angostura Aromatic Bitters has remain unchanged for more than 190 years, and unlike some other bitters, it is 100% natural, with no artificial flavours or additives.
• A closely guarded recipe of herbs and spices are weighed and mixed before being transferred to stainless steel baskets, hoisted on to large percolators, where alcohol is introduced.
• The alcohol extracts the flavours form the herbs and spices, pumped into holding tanks where other ingredients are introduced, and then left to marry over the course of a few months before being diluted to bottling strength at 44.7% ABV.

*notes courtesy of supplier

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