Lost Cocktails of The Mai-Kai: A little patience yields the resurrection of a vestal Virgin

Updated June 24, 2013
This is one in a series of reviews of drinks that appeared on the original 1956-57 menu but were later retired.
See below: Impatient Virgin review | Ancestor recipe | Tribute recipes
Related: Mai-Kai cocktail guide | More “lost cocktails”

The Impatient Virgin makes its return after decades in retirement at the Lost Cocktails Party in June 2013

The Impatient Virgin makes its return after decades in retirement at the Lost Cocktails Party in June 2013. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

When the original review of this “lost cocktail” was posted in back in September, it was just the second in a series that I hoped would shed just a little bit of light on some classic drinks that were retired from The Mai-Kai’s menu over the years and largely forgotten. Little did I know that nine months later, the light would be shining brightly on this and two other recipes returned from the vault for a special event at the conclusion of The Hukilau.

Over these past nine months as we explored what would eventually total 11 retired drinks, we were treated to surprise un-retirements of the Demerara Cocktail, Last Rites, Demerara Float and Suffering Bastard. The “Lost Cocktails Party,” scheduled for the final day of The Hukilau on June 9, offered the perfect opportunity to explore yet another retired classic.

Mai-Kai general manager Kern Mattei, who worked behind the bar back in the 1980s and is familiar with many of the drinks before they were retired, is the driving force behind the return of these vintage recipes. Along with the current menu recipes, he keeps retired recipes under lock and key in his office and ensures their quality and authenticity. When it came time to select three drinks for the party, he committed to two of the previously revealed concoctions (Last Rites and Demerara Float) plus one newly revealed tipple.

A sneak peek at the Impatient Virgin

A sneak peek at the Impatient Virgin. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, May 2013)

Seeking a mild option, Mattei suggested the Liquid Gold or Impatient Virgin, and he prepared samples of both (see photo at right). We were both impressed with the flavor-packed Virgin and went with this slightly reconfigured version for the party. See the tasting notes and tribute recipe below for more info.

Like many of The Mai-Kai’s legendary tropical drinks (31 on the current menu and nine lost classics), the Impatient Virgin can be traced back to Tiki bar pioneer Donn Beach, aka Don the Beachcomber. His Vicious Virgin was a staple at his chain of restaurants in the years prior to The Mai-Kai’s birth. As has been well documented on this blog, one of Beach’s top bartenders, Mariano Licudine, was hired away to The Mai-Kai, and the rest is history.

Licudine took Beach’s classic recipes and ran with them. Many stayed virtually the same, but he also did a lot of tinkering with ingredients and flavors. He also tinkered with the names, documented by Tiki drink historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berry in his definitive book on the heyday of tropical mixology, Sippin’ Safari.

Vicious Virgin

Mariano’s son, Ron, told Berry about how the task of naming the drinks became a family affair. Before The Mai-Kai opened, the Licudine family gathered in the living room to come up with new (often better) names for the Beachcomber drinks that the master mixologist had reconfigured (and usually reinvigorated). “They changed the Vicious Virgin into the Impatient Virgin, the Cobra’s Fang into the Cobra Kiss, and the Never Say Die into the Oh So Deadly,” Berry wrote.

Most of the names were improved, with an obvious attempt to be more tourist-friendly at the fledgling Fort Lauderdale restaurant. The inspiration of those names remains a secret of the Licudine clan who gathered for those early brain-storming sessions.

However, one name in particular remains a favorite of Ron Licudine, who elaborated on the history of the Impatient Virgin in an interview for the upcoming film Plastic Paradise: A Swingin’ Trip Through America’s Polynesian Obsession. Coincidentally, the film premiered at The Mai-Kai during The Hukilau on June 9, just before the Lost Cocktails Party.

The namesake of the drink, Licudine relates in the film with a smile, was actually a cousin in the Philippines named Virginia. We won’t speculate on the degree of her patience, but we certainly appreciate the purity and virtue of this lost-but-not-forgotten classic cocktail.

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IMPATIENT VIRGIN

Okole Maluna Society review and rating

Impatient Virgin

Size: Medium

Potency: Mild

Flavor profile: Intense sweet and sour juices, falernum, and a hint of gold rum.

Review: A tantalizing combination of juices, syrups and rum with a distinctive Mai-Kai flair.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (see how it ranks). If this were on today’s menu, it would rank near the top of the mild drinks, just below Oh So Deadly.

Ancestry: Based on Don the Beachcomber’s Vicious Virgin, the Impatient Virgin was on the original 1956-57 Mai-Kai cocktail menu and spotted as recently as the mid-1980s. But it was removed on a later menu update and has become a lost classic.

Bilge: The Vicious Virgin is one of a handful of Donn Beach originals available on the current menu at the Don the Beachcomber location in Huntington Beach, Calif. There was also a special mug made for the drink, designed by Crazy Al Evans, manufactured by Tiki Farm, and released in 2011.

Agree or disagree with this review? Share your comments below!

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Don the Beachcomber's Vicious Virgin by The Atomic Grog

Don the Beachcomber’s Vicious Virgin by The Atomic Grog. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, July 2012)

ANCESTOR RECIPE
Vicious Virgin

(By Don the Beachcomber, from Hawai’i – Tropical Rum Drinks & Cuisine)

* 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
* 1/2 ounce Cointreau
* 1/4 ounce falernum
* 1/2 ounce Puerto Rican dark rum
* 1 ounce Virgin Islands light rum

Pour into blender. Add a handful of cracked ice. Blend for 15 seconds at high speed. Serve in a thin 6-ounce champagne glass that has been frozen in a deep freezer.

Don’t confuse this drink with Vicious Virgin #2, a tequila drink featured in Beachbum Berry Remixed.

Tasting notes

I went with Bacardi 8 and Cruzan Estate as my rums. My falernum choice, as usual, was Fee Brothers.

The result is quite sour and tart, with a nice kick from the aged Bacardi. The absence of a overtly sweet syrup makes for a drink that’s on the sour side. It’s similar to a classic sour frozen daiquiri, Hemingway style.

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Impatient Virgin tribute

Impatient Virgin tribute by The Atomic Grog. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, June 2013)

Tribute to The Mai-Kai’s Impatient Virgin,
circa 2013

By The Atomic Grog

* 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
* 3/4 ounce fresh orange juice
* 1/4 ounce falernum (Fee Brothers)
* 1/4 ounce grenadine (Fee Brothers)
* 3/4 ounce Appleton Special gold Jamaican rum
* 3/4 ounce white Virgin Islands rum
* 1/2 teaspoon fassionola (see below)

Pulse blend with 1 cup of crushed ice for 3-5 seconds. Serve in a small rocks glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Notes and tips for home mixologists

Based on the menu artwork above, the Impatient Virgin was originally served in a small cocktail glass, just like its ancestor. My original tribute recipe (see photo below) attempted to keep the ingredients and proportions roughly the same. According to Mattei, it even had the same maraschino cherry that settled in the bottom of the glass (see Vicious Virgin artwork above).

Impatient Virgin tribute

Impatient Virgin tribute. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, September 2012)

In case anyone is interested, here’s that v.1 recipe:
* 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
* 1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
* 1/4 ounce falernum (Fee Brothers)
* 1/2 ounce Appleton Estate Extra dark Jamaican rum
* 1 ounce Appleton Special gold Jamaican rum
* 1/2 teaspoon fassionola (see below)

Blend with 1/2 cup of crushed ice until smooth. Serve in a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry. Wahine optional.

But Mattei and his bartenders took the Impatient Virgin to new heights by pulse blending it with ice for just a few seconds and serving it in a small rocks glass. It’s an explosion of tart, sour and sweet flavors with just a touch of gold rum. By the ’80s, drinks in small cocktail glasses were quickly losing popularity, a factor that might have had something to do with the Impatient Virgin’s demise.

In both tributes, I went with Appleton Jamaican rum, which is used in many of the restaurant’s current cocktails. It gives the drink a richer rum flavor to accent the sour notes.

The latest incarnation of the Impatient Virgin appears at The Mai-Kai's Lost Cocktails Party in June 2013

The latest incarnation of the Impatient Virgin appears at The Mai-Kai’s Lost Cocktails Party in June 2013. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

The last piece of the puzzle was the addition of both grenadine and fassionola to give the drink a pink hue and intense sweetness. The Impatient Virgin was indeed a “girly drink,” Mattei confirmed, and it had a distinctive color. Our guess is that this was achieved via this obscure bar syrup, in much the same way as the similarly colored Tahitian Breeze. Used in small doses, it adds color but doesn’t alter the flavor.

Fassionola substitute: The intense red and fruity syrup is an old-school ingredient that’s rarely used today. The Atomic Grog endorses the Jonathan English brand that we found on eBay. But an easier solution is to mix equal parts of a dark, rich grenadine (Fee Brothers does the trick) and Smucker’s Red Raspberry Syrup.

Both fassionola and grenadine are necessary to achieve the full, rich flavor – much like the Cobra Kiss. In fact, this could be considered a mild version of that drink with that same combination of falernum, grenadine-fassionola, OJ and lime used to great effect.

Mrs. Hurricane, a fan of the Cobra Kiss, also enjoyed the Impatient Virgin at the Lost Cocktails Party. Was it too similar to survive a menu purge in the 1980s? Perhaps. We’re just grateful it returned, undefiled, from the ranks of The Mai-Kai’s long-lost cocktails.

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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