Memories are funny things. They are held best by our senses, smell and taste being the most powerful triggers. Just a taste of Doc Andersen's Mai Tai brought back all of the memories of the Doctor, aka my granddad. Extremely intelligent, with a larger than life presence, he was a character. When my partner met him, the exchange went like this:
Partner: Hi, Doctor Andersen, I'm George Bradley, but I go by Brad.
Doc: I'm George too, but I go by George. (And he scrunched up his crazy white eyebrows into a critical scowl, like "Why would you go by anything but George" and then broke into a laugh - this from his hospital bed.)
He liked to rattle people. He did it a lot by banging his glass on the dinner table to emphasize a point he was making. Or even more jarring, he'd clack together his false teeth in a Where the Wild Things Are sort of way.
He believed that 15 minutes a day sunbathing nude was a part of any healthy life. A cocktail before dinner kept you on your toes. And Aggravation and Backgammon were games best played by cheating (he never really shook the dice container, just tapped it ... somehow he always rolled what he needed, or maybe counted aloud while moving more spaces than he counted.)
He drove a big brown Chrysler and he'd always "shoot" the stoplights with his finger pistol, magically making them turn green just as we needed them too (this was before I understood braking and yellow lights for cross traffic.)
But he loved people sincerely. Tootsie Roll lollipops for all of his little "customers" (I inherited the leftovers when he retired from his practice) and home visits for any patient too sick to come to the office - taking the time to sit and chat, knowing that much of the "medicine" came from genuine human contact.
And he made Mai-Tai's. I'd always get a little juice glass of some - probably before the rum was added. But it is one of my most treasured memories, laying on his suntanned belly, wearing Grandma's rhinestone evening shoes, sipping my own "Mai-
Tai", while the adults chatted and lounged in the California sunshine.
So given the opportunity to share his "secret" recipe, I jumped at the chance to make a batch of Mai-Tai's for my girlfriends and sit in the evening breeze sipping them under the watch of a watermelon-sunset mountain miles from Hermosa Beach, decades from the last time I held his hand, and knew he'd be elated to pass on the tradition of sun-sitting, cocktail-sipping afternoons of summertime in a glass.
Doc Andersen's Mai Tai
1/2 can each frozen Minute Maid limeade and lemonade
(you'll use a can as a measuring tool - so just dump the remaining halvess together in one can)
1/2 can Curacao Liquor (not the blue kind - nope, just nope)
1 can light rum
1 can dark rum
(adjust rum to taste ... this makes quite a strong batch)
1/2-3/4 can Orgeat (pronounced or-zsa, like Zsa Zsa Gabor; it's almond syrup*)
Place all ingredients in the blender with about 2 cans of ice (you'll want it to be slushy). Blend to desired consistency. Start with 1/4-1/2 can Orgeat - it's sweet - add more for desired sweetness. Pour into a tall glass, get cozy in a lounge chair and enjoy the sunshine (for added fun, get your 15 minutes of nude sunbathing in.)
*Homemade Orgeat (you can find Orgeat at speciality shops that sell coffee syrups, sometimes. I couldn't so I made my own and it was easy and awesome)
2 c raw sliced almonds
1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/4 c water
1 tsp orange flower water (I didn't have this, so I used Grand Marnier for the orange flavor)
1 oz vodka
Toast almonds at 400°F for 4 minutes, shaking after 2 minutes.
Cool almonds and then pulverize them with a blender or food processor.
In a saucepan, cook the sugar and water on medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture starts to boil, about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add pulverized almonds and simmer on low heat, stirring frequently.
When mixture is about to boil, remove from heat and cover.
Let it sit for a minimum of 3 hours and no more than 12 hours.
Strain steeped mixture through three layers of cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.
Add orange flower water and vodka, then stir. Funnel into glass jar or bottle.
Cheers! Or as Doc Andersen would say, "Skål!"