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Smoking Mai Tai

By Jon Matsubara From Moveable Feast Season 3, Ep.2
Scott Phillips

Servings: 1

This cocktail is infused with the smoky flavor of applewood with the help of The Smoking Gun and calls for you to make your own falernum. Alternatively, you can buy pre-made falernum in most large liquor stores.


For the falernum

  • 3/4 cup slivered, blanched almonds
  • 1/2 Tbs. whole cloves
  • 1/2 Tbs. whole allspice
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1/4 cup peeled, coarsely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • zest of 1 lime
  • Rum

For the smoking mai tai

  • 1-1/2 oz. white rum
  • 3/4 oz. dark rum; more for garnish
  • 1/2 oz. orange Curaçao
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. homemade falernum
  • 1/4 tsp. applewood sawdust, for infusing
  • Bruléed pineapple wedge, for garnish (see note)
  • Basil sprig, for garnish


Make the falernum

  • Put the almonds in a large glass jar, cover with 1 quart of filtered or bottled water, and cover tightly. Let sit, shaking occasionally, for 30 minutes. Strain the almonds, discard the water, and rinse out the jar. Return the almonds to the jar and cover with 1 quart of clean filtered or bottled water and seal; refrigerate overnight.
  • Combine the cloves, allspice, and star anise in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat, tossing frequently, for 1 minute. Add the contents of the jar to the pan. Add the ginger and sugar to the pan and cook, stirring constantly. When the mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Meanwhile, wash out the jar. Remove the pan from heat and let cool. Add the lime zest. Pour the mixture back into the clean jar, seal, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup. For every 5 oz. of syrup, add 1 oz. of rum. Stir well. Return the mixture to a clean jar, cover, and refrigerate. The mixture will keep for 2 weeks.

Make the smoking mai tai

  • Fill a rocks glass with ice, and set aside.
  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the white and dark rum, curaçao, lime juice, and falernum. Using applewood sawdust, add smoke to the cocktail shaker with The Smoking Gun. Close the cocktail shaker immediately and shake vigorously. Strain into the glass, garnish with a bruléed pineapple wedge, a basil sprig, and a float of dark rum.
  • Serve immediately.

Make Ahead Tips

The homemade falernum will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


Note: To brulée pineapple slices, place them on a rimmed metal baking sheet and use a kitchen torch to lightly brown each piece. Alternatively, you can broil the pineapple in the oven for a minute or 2, until it turns golden brown.

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