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Mai Tai Nia

fernet branca cocktail with rum

In times of artisanal bourbons, herb-infused cocktails, and gold-plated shakers, Tiki drinks are often seen as the “sloppy drunkards that never grew up to party in style.” And yes, their bad rep is not completely unfounded. Most of us have had one (or a few) of these brightly colored and nearly deadly syrupy-sweet tropical delights served in chintzy glassware and adorned with an umbrella pick, and have sworn to stick to wine next time!

But Tikis are coming back, and they’re back in style!

No longer just “umbrella drinks” or “boat cocktails,” tikis are now a sultry combination of fresh tropical fruits, multiple high quality rums, homemade liqueurs and extracts. Bartenders are re-discovering old recipes, tweaking the base and introducing hints of Pernod or falernum syrup for more complex flavor and depth.

And here’s our take — Tiki, meet Fernet Branca!

fernet branca cocktail

A dash of this bitter spirit made from a grab bag of herbs, spices, barks, and other mystery ingredients, tames the sweetness and layers the flavor. By blending light rum, fresh pineapple and falernum with this popular Italian digestif, the “Mai Tai Nia” delivers the perfect tropical concoction with a semi-sweet taste and a very layered texture. So, it’s time to put on our Hawaiian shirt and have some fun (without fearing any sugar comatose).

caramelized pineapple for tiki cocktailscaramelized pineapple and cinnamon

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A modern Mai Tai twist


  • 1 oz Light Rum
  • 0.5 oz Zaya 12 Year Grand Reserva Rum
  • 0.25 oz Fernet Branca
  • 0.75 oz John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum
  • 1 oz Caramelized Pineapple-Cinnamon Juice (recipe below)


  1. In a cocktail shaker combine light rum, Falernum and caramelized pineapple-

    cinnamon juice

  2. Add ice and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds

  3. Strain over ice in a wide wine glass or a tiki mug

  4. Float a mixture of Fernet Branca and Zaya rum on top of the drink

  5. (After initial presentation, mix in the rum-fernet float with the rest of the cocktail)

  6. Garnish with pineapple leaves



  • 1 Whole Pineapple (preferably organic)
  • 1/2 cup White Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Ground Cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 400

  2. Core and peel a pineapple, cut into 1 inch cubes

  3. Coat cubes with sugar and cinnamon and place them on a cookie sheet

  4. Roast until the pineapple is caramelized and lightly burnt on the outside (depending on fruit ripeness, time may vary but about 30-40 minutes)

  5. Run the caramelized cubes through a juice extractor

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easy craft cocktail with fernet branca

Text Edit by: Veronika P.


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