This is the second in a series of reviews of drinks that appeared on the original 1956-57 menu but were later retired. Included is the ancestor recipe that inspired it, plus a tribute that attempts to reinterpret what The Mai-Kai’s version would taste like today had it not disappeared.
If you walked into Fort Lauderdale’s Mai-Kai in 1956, it was a far different experience than 2012. Not only was the restaurant one of the few buildings on then-rural Federal Highway, it contained much fewer dining rooms, and there was no Molokai bar as we know it today. You could, however, belly up to the Surfboard Bar in the area that today is the back of the main dining showroom known as the Tonga room.
The cocktail menu would be a comforting sight, but also just a tad askew. Besides the prices (just $2 for a Barrel O’ Rum or Zombie!), you would notice 10 drinks that no longer exist. One of these was the Impatient Virgin.
Like many of The Mai-Kai’s legendary tropical concoctions (31 on the current menu), 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. We discovered this over the past several years as we reviewed, dissected and posted more than 70 recipes.
But what about those “lost cocktails” that are no longer available at the bar? A few have been unveiled by The Mai-Kai and Tiki drink historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, but others have no trace except for the original Don the Beachcomber recipes (again thanks to Berry).
The trick is to reinterpret these classics in much the same way Licudine would have, turning them into Mai-Kai cocktails. Below is an attempt at resurrecting the Impatient Virgin, along with a bold theory that this drink – essentially an exotic frozen daiquiri – may have inspired perhaps The Mai-Kai’s most famous drink from its early years.
The Derby Daiquiri, created by Licudine in 1959 as the official drink of the Florida Derby and winner of a Rums of Puerto Rico cocktail competition, contains the same base flavors (lime, orange, rum) and also is served frapped in a stemmed glass. Coincidence? There’s no way to know for sure, which makes this exercise all the more fun.
(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.
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.
Tribute to The Mai-Kai’s Impatient Virgin
By The Atomic Grog
* 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.
Based on the menu artwork (see below), the Impatient Virgin was very similar to its ancestor, the Vicious Virgin. So I tried to keep the ingredients and proportions roughly the same. According to Mai-Kai manager Kern Mattei, who made the drink when he worked behind the bar in the 1990s, it even had the same maraschino cherry that settled in the bottom of the glass (see Vicious Virgin artwork above).
One important change was the substitution of orange juice for Cointreau, which to the best of my knowledge is not featured in any Mai-Kai cocktail. Fresh OJ, however, is a key ingredient in many drinks, often in combination with falernum (Mai-Kai Swizzle , Mai Tai, S.O.S.). This also plays into my theory that the Impatient Virgin is a close cousin of the Derby Daiquiri (see above and below). This also makes sense when you consider that Mai-Kai cocktails are often sweeter and/or fruitier than their Don the Beachcomber ancestors.
And to give it a distinctive Mai-Kai flavor, I went with Appleton rums, which are used in many of the restaurant’s current cocktails. They give the drink a richer rum flavor to accent the sour notes. If the Impatient Virgin were on the menu today, perhaps these are the rums that would be featured.
The last piece of the puzzle was the addition of fassionola to give the drink a pink hue. The Impatient Virgin was indeed a “girly drink,” Mattei confirmed, and it had a distinctive color that was different than its ancestor. 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.
Okole Maluna Society review and rating
Flavor profile: Lime with hints of orange and falernum, and a slight kick from the Appleton rum.
Review: Sour and tart yet tasty and refreshing. A possible inspiration for the Derby Daiquiri, a more streamlined, slightly sweeter version of this drink also featuring lime, orange juice and the same amount of rum, also blended until smooth.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (see how it ranks). On today’s menu, our rating would place this tribute near the bottom of the 3-star drinks somewhere near the Derby Daiquiri.
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 1970. 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.
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