Mai Tai at Cleat & Anchor
Normally, I am suspicious of any batch-made adult beverages: margaritas from a soda gun, sangrias languishing in a bartop glass dispenser, alcoholic slushies flowing out of drink machines in dayglo hues. These made-for-a-crowd cocktails, often of questionable shelf life, usually place an emphasis on artificial or sugary mixes. Unfortunately, alcohol is often the afterthought. Though these drinks generally are eye-catching moneymakers for the house, the flavor usually disappoints for me. Then, I discovered the Mai Tai “on tap” at the Cleat & Anchor. This drink shattered my strongly held beliefs of bulk-produced cocktails by delivering a potent punch with a made-to-order freshness. Best of all, no overly sweet aftertaste and a really fair price for a premium product!
As incongruous as it sounds to find a superior Tiki cocktail at a Cape Cod restaurant, the Mai Tai at Cleat & Anchor proves you don’t need to book a flight to savor the real deal. This drink possesses a tropical fusion of flavors that will blur away life stresses and have you dreaming of beach days ahead. Felicia Pons, beverage director at Cleat & Anchor, offers a classic version of the Mai Tai starring her own inhouse rum blend: Plantation Pineapple, Plantation 3 Stars Silver, Plantation Dark and Plantation O.F.T.D. These Plantation rums are then integrated with Rhum JM (Martinique estate-grown sugarcane rum), Triple Sec, Giffard Orgeat Syrup and fresh lime juice. The recipe stays true to the spirit of the original created at Trader Vic’s in the 1940s. Orgeat, one of the key components of a proper Mai Tai, is a sweetened syrup flavored with bitter almonds. Honestly, a Mai Tai just isn’t a Mai Tai without it.
Served in a pint glass over a generous scoopful of shaved ice and garnished with a fresh mint sprig, this concoction boasts the right combination of boozy goodness and mouth-puckering lime juice. The addition of the orangey Triple Sec and sweet almond Orgeat tempers the tartness of the lime juice perfectly. The result: a harmony of ingredients that will have rum lovers toasting in approval.
To keep the freshness alive from first to last sip, the Mai Tai is dispersed via the tap system alongside Cleat & Anchor’s impressive craft beer selection. Mixmaster extraordinaire Pons, who perfected her craft at Eastern Standard in Boston, multiplies the quantities of her ingredients precisely and funnels the finished elixir into a special soda keg. The keg is then hooked up to a special allergy/food/cocktail/wine-safe line, which pours a consistently decadent drink with every pull of the lever. Each keg will yield approximately 167 cocktails. Pons explains that she and her partners (husband Tony and his brother Chris Pons) installed these more expensive beverage lines when they purchased and renovated the former Rumrunners just over a year ago. These special lines will not deteriorate over time due to highly-acidic products, like limes. The system also uses nitrogen gas rather than carbon dioxide to push the mixed drink through the system.
So if you’re looking for a drink that will mentally transport you to warmer climes, pull up a stool at Cleat & Anchor and order the ultimate Mai Tai for your sipping pleasure. Seasonally, Pons intends to rotate her cocktail specialities on tap, but the Mai Tai will remain available at least until July.
Cleat & Anchor
243 Lower County Road, Dennisport
508-258-0175 / cleatandanchor.com