A Mai Tai that courts the palate with a flourish of flavors

Find the enlightened purity of the Buddha himself at the Monkey King

Ryan Andrews
  • Ryan Andrews

The Monkey King (aka Sun Wukong), a Buddhist superhero of Chinese legend, carries a 17-ton staff and can travel 13,500 miles in one somersault. He can also effortlessly transform into any inanimate object or living creature at will to handily defeat gods and dragons with equal dispatch.

Monkey King

467 Fifth Avenue, Downtown San Diego

In San Diego’s Gaslamp District, the Monkey King’s legend lives on in the Chinese fusion restaurant that bears his name. In the spirit of Sun Wukong, Monkey King’s beverage director Ryan Andrews has channeled a bit of this power-primate’s shape-shiftiness to bring forth a menu worthy of the King. The jewel in the Monkey King’s crown, says Andrews, is his restart-from-scratch iteration of the Mai Tai.

With a fresh set of ingredients, starting with aged Guatemalan rum, the Monkey King Mai Tai aspires to the enlightened purity of the Buddha himself.

“The Ron Zacapa is aged in the same way as sherry and cognac,” Andrews says. “The aging technique allows for consistency throughout the years.”

The Pierre Ferrand, meanwhile, resides in that shining moment between sugar and spirit of which most curacaos can only dream.

“The Pierre Siron has the least amount of added sugar to qualify it as a liqueur, about 100 grams a liter,” Andrews says. “Its bright and dry orange flavor brings all the citrus sweet with little extra sugar.”

When all’s said and sipped, the Monkey King Mai Tai courts the palate with a flourish of flavors.

“You’re going to get hit with the acidity of the lime juice first,” Andrews says. “Then, with the heavy wood character of the aged rum, you get an oakiness, followed by creaminess and nuttiness from the cashew. And right near the end you’ll get that bright hit of orange citrus. Then at the end it lingers with a touch of spice—allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger root from the bitters.”

Monkey King

  • 467 Fifth Ave, San Diego
  • 619-359-8897
  • monkeykingsd.com

Monkey King’s Mai Tai

Monkey King’s Mai Tai

Monkey King’s Mai Tai

  • 1 ½ oz. Aged Ron Zacapa
  • 1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • ½ oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curacao
  • ¾ oz. Cashew Orgeat*
  • 2 dashes of R & D House Bitters

Quick-shake ingredients in cocktail shaker, pour into rocks glass of pebbled ice, garnish with mint bouquet—“and be sure to smack the mint to wake it up.”

*Simmer cup of cashew milk, add Demerara sugar to taste and two dashes of orange blossom water; chill before using.

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