Due to the great Lime Crisis of 2014, we are forced to re-evaluate options. In the past I have endorsed Nellie’s Key Lime juice as a back-up when fresh lime juice runs out. You know how it is. It’s 1AM and you’ve made Rum Barrels and a Demerara Dry Float and a Navy Grog for your guests and they want more, MORE! So your limes are all spent and you need to make people happy. You could use Nellie’s and cut it to maybe 3/4 strength and make a decent cocktail. Once I discovered the Santa Cruz Organic Lime Juice at the grocery store in the natural food section, I never touched the Nellie’s again. It is a spot on sub for lime juice. Only thing missing is pulp!
So, while limes have gone from robust and 25 cents each to puny and 90 cents each, or worse, disappeared, go to the healthy food section and grab a few bottles of this stuff while it is still reasonable.
Look for it at your grocery store in the health/natural foods section. Here it can be found at Kroger, Food City, etc. It is also likely at your more healthy/organic food grocery stores like Whole Foods.
I wanted to like the Peter Kern Library. I do like the space. I certainly like the idea of craft cocktails being served in Knoxville. Heck, I was going to open my own bar just a few doors down from there about 10 years ago. However, the drinks here just miss the mark.
On our first visit, we tried a few drinks. My first I could not finish and so we traded. I didn’t really love the other one either. Neither of us loved our second round. But we liked the place and the attempt and our server and recommended it to friends.
Our second visit was a shock. We heard the head bartender was there and we were excited to talk shop with someone who maybe knew more than the typical hi-ball server.
I was probably a little less enamored of the place and so I was realizing every recipe was on the sweet side. Muddled fruit, honey and Crème de Violette. The only tart drink we tried last time and even my tart loving wife didn’t care for it. I realized none of these drinks looked appealing.
Ah, there is a “Classics” section with an “Old Fashioned” and a “Sazerac”. I decide on an Old Fashioned, but having been served in the last few years in typical places, I asked if they muddled oranges in them and could I have mine without orange fruit. The classic recipe calls for lemon peel, though I was served a fantastic version at The Gin Joint in Charleston with orange peel and it was great. But this made our bartender angry and I could either have it her way, which would be the best one I ever had, or I could have it my way. I felt like I might have been asked to leave if I wasn’t sitting with her regular customers, who I had told to come there in the first place. I wanted it my way. Or, well, the right way. I wanted the classic. No fruit.
What I got was okay. Not a craft cocktail. Not bad, but nothing beyond what I could tell the bartender to make me at the bar at the Holiday Inn Express.
I sampled all the drinks ordered and found nothing to be very good. My wife’s two drinks were forced down and she likely would have not finished if we weren’t with friends and obliged to stay longer than we wanted.
The drink list is overly sweet, and those that are not sweet are super hot or overly weird and just too strong in their flavors. Nothing was balanced. Nothing was tart in a good way. And nothing much was bigger than about 3 ounces. It all seemed to be 3 ounce cocktails served up.
The attitude was unforgivable.
I suppose I should go easy on the home town place that is trying, but, how will they improve? I am not going to take my cocktail nerd friends there. We’ll just go to my house and have good drinks instead. Should the bartenders at PKL visit some of the other good bars around and revise their palette and recipes, I’ll give them another chance. For now, they need to start over. Leave the décor, toss the recipes.
I suppose this proves that Knoxville will support good cocktails. If they are filling this small space to capacity on weekend nights, a better option might do more business.
After a few weeks on a strict low carb diet, I wanted to celebrate with a classic cocktail by Don the Beachcomber. I wasn’t about to blow the diet, so I did some research. I opened The Grogalizer and removed some high sugar ingredients and came up with a starting list of favorites. We found sugar free honey online and it mixes like honey syrup. Davinci sugar free syrup is good. These tools allowed me to make my own cinnamon syrup, falernum and allspice dram all sugar free!
I calculated some carb counts of favorites not using my home made syrups, just the SF honey and Davinci SF syrup:
Jasper’s Jamaican using SF syrup – 3 carbs
Navy Grog – 4 carbs
2070 Swizzle made my way with SF honey syrup – 6 carbs
Black Magic – 7 carbs
Nui Nui – 7 carbs
Outrigger – 8 carbs
1934 Zombie Punch – 8 carbs
Jet Pilot – 9 carbs
Test Pilot – 9.5 carbs
Rum Barrel – 11 carbs
Putting my other home made syrups to use can lower the carb counts even more!
You can’t go crazy, but you can certainly celebrate being good on your diet with a drink that won’t make you regret drinking it.
NOTE: Recent studies show that sugar free mixers mean higher blood alcohol levels. The same person drinking a Rum and Coke vs. a Rum and Diet Coke can expect their blood alcohol level to be 60% higher! So if you make sugar free drinks, be very careful. You can get much drunker than you expect. Be VERY careful!
Having been on the low carb diet many times, and enjoying a Margarita and just plane any cocktail when Friday afternoon rolls around, I have worked at making a low carb version. Most recipes are way too gross, as it seems the general idea of what they should taste like does not come from the true recipe, but the sweet junk served by most Mexican restaurants. And even those closer to the real thing meant you had to suffer through it. Now any more!
First, the real recipe is simple: 3 oz Tequila, 2 oz Triple Sec, 1 oz Lime juice, ice.
My version of that requires Da Vinci Sugar Free Syrup Sweetener, 750 ml It is made with Splenda and has the right thickness and no aftertaste. You can sub your favorite sugar substitute instead. Start with one packet and see how that suits you.
The Best Low Car Margarita Recipe
3 oz Gold Tequila
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1 ounce 80 proof vodka
4 teaspoons Da Vinci syrup to taste, you can also use a sugar substitute packets
1/2 to 1 teaspoon orange extract or orange emulsion (to taste)
I prefer to mix up 2 at a time and add a lot of ice in the blender so that it really pours as more like 4 drinks. This recipe comes to about 2-2.5 carbs, due to the lime juice. You could sub lime crystals for the juice, but I doubt it would be very good and it isn’t that much carbs. Not worth the loss of a good tasting drink to me, and some say the glycemic index for lime juice renders it nearly no carbs.
This image is from the June 1959 issue of Esquire magazine. It says:
“The fabulous mixologist Mariano Licudine of the famed Mai-Kai Restaurant in Florida creates new ways with rum in his Derby Daiquiri. The secret: one ounce of fresh orange juice, one half ounce of fresh lime juice, one scant teaspoon of sugar, one andone half ounces of Puerto Rican white label rum, one cup of crushed ice; mix in a blender for 10 seconds or shake vigorously. The bee? Oh, he’s just buzzy. But this, designated the oficial drink of the Florida Derby, is the DERBY DAIQUIRI.”
This date seems to have confused people into thinking this was named the official drink of the Derby in 1959. The Derby Daiquiri has been on the Mai-Kai drink menu since the earliest printings. And it has always been pictured served in the special Jockey glass. So, I would assume it has been the drink of the Derby since 1957 at least, which is the copyright date on the oldest menus I have seen.
Here is Mai-Kai owner Bob Thornton holding the drink with the original coaster.
Here is my glass with the coaster.
UPDATE 8/10/2011: After extensive research, though the Derby Daiquiri was on the first Mai-Kai menu, it did not become the official drink of the Gulfstream Derby until probably 1959.
I have wanted to make it look up to date for a while and was very lucky to get Justin Bird, a Nashville artist and web designer, to completely revamp the site. His work is fantastic and what he did with the Grogalizer is revolutionary. It is nearing an iPhone app.
Check out the new design, and the new features. It has always been a fantastic tool, and now it contains the Bum’s newest recipes too!
After an unexpected need to move to a new server, I have been slowly getting all my sites and their parts back working. This blog is still not done. A newer version of Word Press has the feeds at a new address, so, if you subscribed to the feed before, you may have to do it again to get my blathers. I also need to reinstall the style here… Lots of work yet to do.
One thing I wanted to get back first, that was the most daunting wash the Grogalizer. Lots of custom made PHP code with a MySQL background. A few evenings work has gotten one piece after another back working. Tonight I think it is all back working.
Give it a try and let me know if you find any problems. I’ve even seen The Bum himself logging in, so, I am proud of my creation!
Ms Swanky gave me a few nice birthday presents. First, a stainless steel mini fridge to keep all the assorted juices and syrups needed to make great drinks in the bar. Second, a stainless steel bar sink for the bar. We bought a house about a year ago and have been renovating and now we’re coming to some new places. The 3rd edition of the Hapa Haole Hideaway will be very grand, but, it will require a LOT of work and money. Not just a decorating job like times past, but a construction job with contractors and electrical, plumbing and carpentry work. I really miss the Hideaway, and so does she. But we also have work to do on the kitchen and bath, etc. So, those gifts really meant more to me. They show she’s behind this project.
As if I didn’t already know, my male friends are reinforcing it. She’s a keeper.
We still can’t afford to get married, but we’re setting a date anyway. It’ll be in April or May 2009. We’ll settle on an exact date soon. I did Hukilau year after year starting with nothing in the bank. We’ve managed a lot of goals that were difficult and we made them happen. So, we set a date and we’ll make the wedding happen too.
And in August or so, we’ll have the grand reopening party for the the bigger and bestest Hapa Haole Hideaway!
The one great thing I credit myself with in the whole Hukilau event, is being able to promote and in some ways really help make the Mai Kai more well known and popular. We all love the place, but I love the people that run it. They are the best. The staff as well. Mai Kai.
I noticed there was not a good set of images of this magazine article on the web, so I thought I’d scan it and put it out there for everyone.
Considering all the images of this Barrel of Rum mug, you’d think they would be around, but I have seen this mug on Ebay once in maybe 5 years.
I have been corresponding with former Mai Kai Mystery Lady Ann Campbell lately. Once again I cannot stress enough the importance of getting everything we can on the Internet so the generation who remembers can find it and share with us. It was thanks to my Mai Kai calendar posts that she found me.
Unfortunately, a lot of her photos and memorabilia from that time was destroyed by a varmit infestation while they were in storage. One piece she sent me really stood out to me. I had read and was told that Bob Thornton inspected the Mai Kai gals on a regular basis and even the future Mrs. Thornton was kicked off the squad for being a bit pudgy. Well, here is a bit of proof. A letter from 1965 from Bob congratulating her for being top gal, and reminding her to keep her weigh under 125…
Ellen is Miss November 1963.
Mai Kai, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Jean is Miss October 1963.
Mai Kai, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Sponsored by Tiki Daze – The only damn calendar that matters!