Tuesday, June 23, 2020

menehune juice

2 oz Trader Vic Light Puerto Rican Rum (Don Q Grand Añejo)
Juice of 1 Lime (1 oz Lime Juice)
1/2 oz Orange Curaçao (Pierre Ferrand)
1/4 oz Orgeat (1/2 oz)
1/4 oz Rock Candy Syrup (omit)

Whip shake, pour into a double old fashioned glass, garnish with a spent lime shell, a mint sprig, and a menehune (pea blossoms).

Around two weeks ago, Allan Katz, the owner of Las Vegas' Jammyland Cocktail Bar & Reggae Lounge (and not the New York distiller Allen Katz), went on a rant about the Mai Tai on Twitter; this should not be too surprising given that his profile reads "defender of the Mai Tai #deathtofalsemaitais." His rant was how the Mai Tai has been changed to remove its Jamaican roots, and how certain brands claimed solidarity with Black Lives Matter yet change the rum to their non-black island spirit. He argued that the Mai Tai was invented with a 17 year old Jamaican rum, and only its dwindling availability forced a change. While that rum is essentially no longer available, the base he argued needed to be Jamaican and not something other in the Caribbean. I commented that even Trader Vic knew that by calling his Mai Tai with Puerto Rican rum by a different name -- the Menehune Juice. I had never made this recipe for it appeared too similar to the Mai Tai itself, but now with this rant fresh in my head, I performed the experiment.
The Menehune Juice began to appear in the Trader Vic literature during the 1970s, and I sourced the recipe his 1974 Rum Cookery & Drinkery book. I then discovered that menehune are the flower mix in the Hawaiian lei, and I would later learn two things. First, that the menehune are mythological dwarf creatures believed by Hawaiians to live deep in the islands' forests and valleys. Trader Vic suggested that his drink would help find one by declaring, "You can't see or talk to a menehune until you drink some Menehune Juice. So drink some." The menehune here as a garnish was not a flower medley but a plastic toy or swizzle stick featuring this creature. Second, that the Mai Tai is not the same without a Jamaican rum. The Menehune Juice met the nose with a mint and lime aroma. Next, a creamy, lime, and caramel sip flowed into rum, orange peel, and earthy-nutty flavors on the swallow. Without the funk that Jamaican rum carries along, the drink was rather delightful but lacked any degree of pizazz.


Matty said...

Isn't it *Menehune* Juice, named for the Hawaiian troll-like creatures? The cocktail used to come with a little Menehune doll. (There is still a Trader Vic's where I leave, and it's "Menehune Juice" on that menu.)

CocktailVirgin said...

Thank you for this pointer and correction. Menehune turns out to be both the Hawaiian creature and the flower mix in a lei.