Mai-Kai cocktail review: No monkeying around, this is one fine Banana Daiquiri

See below: Our Banana Daiquiri review | Official Mai-Kai recipe
Related: This daiquiri is the real deal, thank you berry much | Mai-Kai cocktail guide

I remember the anticipation vividly. It was mid-2010. My new copy of Beachbum Berry Remixed had just arrived via Amazon, and I tore open the package to find what secrets lurked on its pages. Sure, I had already devoured the Bum’s Grog Log (1998) and Intoxica! (2002), perfecting most of the 150 or so recipes within, but Remixed promised to be more than just a rehash of those classic Tiki tomes.

Beachbum Berry Remixed

It not only completely revised and updated those books, it promised 107 additional recipes, including “41 newly discovered, previously unpublished vintage Tiki drink recipes from the 1930s to 1960s.” To me, this meant only one thing: Another secret Mai-Kai recipe would likely be revealed. Every one of the four previous Jeff Berry titles – most notably 2007’s Sippin’ Safari – had unearthed recipes by The Mai-Kai’s master mixologist, Mariano Licudine.

First, I admired the gorgeous design. Hundreds of vintage color photos and artwork adorn the 248 pages. And the creative drink photos raise the art to a new level. It addition to the recipes, it also contains tons of history and stories, similar to Sippin’ Safari. Appendixes included new drinks by the Bum as well as new recipes from the Tiki revival.

Then, finally, I found it on Page 43 as an added bonus recipe to the Grog Log section on the daiquiri, which Berry calls “tiki’s template.” The Mai-Kai’s legendary … Banana Daiquiri? That’s it? I got myself all worked up over one of the most common tropical drinks ever created? Initially, I was let down. C’mon Jeff, I thought. You can do better than this. Where’s the elusive Jet Pilot or Mutiny?

Banana Daiquiri, July 2011 (photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Banana Daiquiri, July 2011. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

But, eventually, the disappointment wore of. First of all, Remixed is a helluva a book. It combines the best elements of Berry’s previous works – the great recipes, the cocktail lore, the eye-popping graphics – with many new tips and wrinkles in the world of tropical mixology. Its rum and ingredient glossary product recommendations are essential guides to stocking a great home bar.

Then, as I gained a deeper appreciation for Mai-Kai cocktails, I came to the conclusion that perhaps there’s something to be said for keeping the best recipes secret. Half the fun is the mystery, trying to figure out exactly what’s behind the curtain. Do we really want all the magician’s tricks revealed?

And, finally, I realized that this is one darn good Banana Daiquiri. With their fresh, quality ingredients, even the drinks at the lower end of our Mai-Kai rankings are better than those at any trendy daiquiri bar. Not everyone is going to want a high-octane cocktail. If you’re looking for something light and tasty, this drink’s for you.

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The official menu description
Banana Daiquiri
BANANA DAIQUIRI

Fresh fruit and rum are blended to create this frosty favorite.

Okole Maluna Society review and rating

Size: Medium

Potency: Mild

Flavor profile: Banana, lime and a touch of mild gold rum.

Review: A perfect frozen fruit daiquiri, head and shoulders above most daiquiri-bar fare.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars (see how it ranks)

Ancestry: The Banana Daiquiri was invented in 1958 in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to Gourmet magazine. The island’s Mountaintop bar has reportedly now served more than 6 million of them. The Mai-Kai likely added it and the companion Strawberry Daiquiri to the menu as its popularity grew in the early ’70s. The recipe below published in Beachbum Berry Remixed is dated 1971 and attributed to Mariano Licudine, The Mai-Kai’s original mixologist.

Agree or disagree? Share your reviews and comments below!

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Banana Daiquiri by The Atomic Grog, September 2011. Dr. Zaius always brings the bananas. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Banana Daiquiri by The Atomic Grog, September 2011. Dr. Zaius always brings the bananas. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

OFFICIAL MAI-KAI RECIPE
Banana Daiquiri

(From Beachbum Berry Remixed)

* 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
* 1/2 ounce simple syrup (1 part sugar to 1 part water, heated and cooled)
* 1 1/2 ounces gold Puerto Rican rum
* Half a ripe banana, cut into thin slices
* 4 ounces (1/2 cup) crushed ice

Put everything into a blender. Blend at high speed for at least 30 seconds, until smooth. Pour unstrained into a cocktail glass.

Notes and tips for home mixologists

* The fresh lime juice and gold rum give The Mai-Kai’s version of this classic a distinctive taste. The original Virgin Islands recipe cited by Gourmet magazine is very similar but uses light rum. Many recipes muck things up with other ingredients in lieu of lime juice.

Bananas Bengali: Fresh bananas sauteed in flaming rum sauce, served over vanilla ice cream. (Photo by Sabina, from TikiCentral.com, posted February 2006)

Bananas Bengali: Fresh bananas sauteed in flaming rum sauce, served over vanilla ice cream. (Photo by Sabina, from TikiCentral.com, posted February 2006)

* Make sure to use a high-quality gold Puerto Rican rum, such as Bacardi 8 (probably used by The Mai-Kai), Ron Barrilito, or Flor De Cana.

While it’s not typically recommended as an after-dinner drink, the Banana Daiquiri makes a fine pairing with one of The Mai-Kai’s famous flaming deserts, Bananas Bengali.

Okole maluna!

About Hurricane Hayward

A professional journalist and Florida resident for more than 30 years, Jim "Hurricane" Hayward shares his obsession with Polynesian Pop and other retro styles on his blog, The Atomic Grog. Jim's roots in mid-century and reto culture go back to his childhood in the 1960s, when he tagged along with his parents to Tiki restaurants and his father's custom car shows. His experience in journalism, mixology, and more than 20 years as an independent concert promoter make him a jack-of-all-trades in the South Florida scene. A graduate of the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications, Jim is a longtime web producer for The Palm Beach Post. In his spare time, he has promoted hundreds of rock, punk, and indie concerts under the Slammie Productions name since the early 1990s. In 2011, he launched The Atomic Grog to extensively cover events, music, art, cocktails, and culture with a retro slant. Jim earned his nickname by virtue of both his dangerous exotic drinks and his longtime position producing The Post's tropical weather website.
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One Response to Mai-Kai cocktail review: No monkeying around, this is one fine Banana Daiquiri

  1. Tiare says:

    I´d do this one with Lost Spirits 151 Cuban Inspired Rum….granted, it`s a new rum on the market but i bet it would make a killer banana daiquiri! i found this post bec i was looking for recipes with tiki drinks that contains banana since i`m playing around with a new homemade green apple banana syrup and i did a LS151 daiquiri already 🙂 now seeking inspiration for some other drink i can use my green banana syrup in and twist it up a bit…Great post btw! Cheers!

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