When the weather turns cold here in Toronto (and trust us, Winter is coming) there are only a few places where one can feel really truly warm. In all honesty, most icy days Alyssa and I have a hard time finding a good reason to even go outside, daydreaming about Hawaii, Mexico, or other tropical getaways instead. That said, we’ll never say no to a staycation at Miss Thing’s.
Miss Things is relatively new to the Toronto scene, but they instantly became a favourite for us the moment they opened. With a menu that includes incredible seafood, delicious shrimp Po’Bao (just try them) and a crazy good pineapple fried rice served IN a pineapple, the food couldn’t be more our style. Coupled with gleaming gold decor details and tropical prints galore, there’s really no place quite like it in the city, and it’s always a welcome escape from the daily grind.
But wait, the best is yet to come. We haven’t even mentioned the tiki cocktails yet.
Toronto has a lot of great cocktail bars, yes, but this place truly tops them all in the tropical tiki department. Everything from crazy cups to elaborate garnishes have clearly been carefully thought through, and we almost never manage to order just one per visit purely out of curiosity for how each one looks!
With winter sneaking up on us more and more, we've been craving a taste of the tropics more than ever, so we reached out to Miss Thing’s and asked if they’d share some of their magical boozy wisdom. A few weeks later we found ourselves behind the bar shaking up tiki classics and building banana dolphins! It was the most fun (and slightly tipsy if we’re being honest) Pastel Craft Club yet, and we learned SO much too.
The Mai-Tai, a classic Tiki Cocktail
Funnily enough, the birth of the Mai-Tai, a classic tiki drink, was in California. Back in the mid-1940s, Cali bars started to adapt the tiki craze. There are two gentleman Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron, and Donn “Don the Beachcomber”, whom claim to have created this particular drink:
The name is said to have been created when Trader Vic’s two friends from Tahiti came to visit. He wanted to make a special drink just for them, and when they tried his creation they said “Mai Tai roa ae” which means “Out of this world, the best!”
Our Mai Tai at Miss thing’s is more like Trader Vic’s original Recipe.
1 oz White Rum (We use Selvarey White)
1 oz Dark Rum (We like it with Mount Gay Eclipse)
1 oz Cointreau
.75 oz Orgeat – almond syrup (if not homemade we like to use Monin Syrup)
2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
*We also turn it into a minimum two-person drink and rename it the “Our Tai”, which is twice the amount of ingredients as the Mai-Tai.
A garnish compliments the cocktail, making it look more pleasing both to the eye and to one’s Instagram followers. If a drink has lime juice, it’s usually garnished with lime, or a lime wheel might be added for extra flavour. But for tiki cocktails there’s usually a creative tiki mug involved, and garnishes get a bit more showy, like pineapple fronds, orange wheels, cherries or edible flowers. The cool thing about tiki is that the garnish adds a creative aspect and it can really be of whatever you think of. At Miss Thing’s we garnish our drinks with simple but fun ideas, such as…
1 whole banana
Optional- 1 blackberry
Slice off an inch of the bottom part of the banana. You can angle the slice so that the banana still has a point at the open end.
From the open end, slice the peel upward about an inch on either side of the peel. This adds fins to the banana.
Move to the top of the banana and create a mouth for the dolphin, this is done by slicing the middle of the part that connects the banana to the rest of the “bunch”.
Add the Cloves as eyes on either side of the “mouth”. You can put the banana dolphin in your drink, peel up the “fins” so they rest on both sides of the glass. Add the blackberry to the mouth of the dolphin as a little snack if you’d like!
1 cocktail skewer (ex. bamboo stick, toothpick)
Zest one side of the lime, but be careful- you want to have two good rinds to use as the sails.
Cut the other side in half, then in thirds. Take one third of the lime and remove the flesh. This is the base or the hull of your boat.
Flip it around so it has the peel facing up, take your skewer and stick it in the centre of the rind and pull it through, leaving a centimetre at the bottom.
Now grab your rinds and cut them in half. Choose one side, then choose one piece that is slightly smaller than the other.
Fold the larger piece in half, rind side out, and stick it on to the skewer, repeat that step with the smaller piece. Those are the sails, try to space them out a bit.
For a cool added effect, simmer the boat in a small saucepan with 2 ounces of water and 3 ounces of sugar on medium heat. Remove after 5 minutes and sprinkle with sugar. You have just candied your sailboat!
Frozen Watermelon Slices
House made flavoured simple syrup
Vodka (can also be flavoured)
Vac-pac (bag or a container with a lid)
At the bar we have a machine in our kitchen that vacuum seals our infusions which helps speed up time, but you can do this at home with a simple airtight container.
Slice up your mini watermelon and place the slices in a vac pac with the vodka and our house-made syrup. Seal it and let it sit in a fridge for 6 hours, then place the slices on parchment paper in a container and leave them in the freezer overnight. Frozen slices can be used the next day and they stay fresh for up to a week.
If you don’t have access to a vacuum sealer, simply put the watermelon slices (1 layer) in a container and fill it with vodka and syrup for about a day, then wrap and freeze. Make sure to keep everything chilled for this process!
In the end the frozen watermelon acts as an extra component to chill the drink and won’t dilute the flavour. Plus once the drink is finished the watermelon will have defrosted and you can eat it for an extra kick!
*Note: make sure you keep the recipe ratio at 1/2 oz vodka and 1 oz syrup per watermelon slice or they won’t freeze!