I’ll never forget the time I visited Japan with my family when I was thirteen years old and saw two elegantly dressed Japanese women pounding beers with their breakfast in our hotel lobby. Since we all can’t go through life like those icons, it’s good to have a few alcohol-free beverages to awaken our senses in the morning.
A classic mai tai is a mix of rum with orgeat, a Middle Eastern almond syrup, and other flavors. To re-create it as a safe-for-the-morning cocktail, I’ve used apple cider paired with ginger to echo the rich and spicy notes from the rum. Apple cider vinegar, if used judiciously, provides an eye-opening dose of acidity, along with additional apple notes.
- Using a juice extractor, juice the ginger. Pass the liquid through a gold coffee filter to remove all solids. You should have about 1 cup. Combine the ginger juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool for a few minutes. Place the pan in an ice bath and stir every few minutes until the mixture is below room temperature. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- In a shaking tin, combine the drink ingredients. Add ice and shake for 15 seconds. Strain into an ice-filled old fashioned glass. Garnish with a few slices of apple and a couple of mint leaves.
Reprinted with permission from Drink What You Want: The Subjective Guide to Making Objectively Delicious Cocktails by John deBary, copyright © 2020. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Illustration copyright: Sarah Tanat-Jones © 2020