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Drink Duel: Coconut Cream Cocktails

Go coconuts for these tart, creamy cocktails

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If you like pina coladas... then these probably aren't the drinks for you. Though both Mai Thai's Siam Sunray and Juniper's Batida contain coconut cream, they are notably free of rum and don't dip their boozy toes in a blender. With exotic additions like lemongrass and ginger, these creamy cocktails have more in common with cold coconut soup than they do with making love at midnight or getting caught in the rain.

Bar: Mai Thai

Drink Name: Siam Sunray

Description: Vodka, coconut cream, fresh-squeezed lime juice, Kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, ginger and Thai chili served in a Collins glass with a lime wedge and lemongrass stalk.

Price: $8

Glass: Tom Collins

Garnishes: A large, dry lime wedge and a stick of lemongrass

Booze: Vodka

Ice: Medium-sized square cubes

History: In 2009, Thailand's Tourism Authority unveiled the Siam Sunray, a cocktail they dubbed "Thailand in a glass: The new punch in Thai tourism." Traditionally, the drink contains vodka, coconut liqueur, chili pepper, sugar, lime juice, lemongrass and ginger. Those ingredients are then shaken and strained into a glass with soda water and ice.

Verdict: Mai Thai's milky white Siam Sunray is notably sweet at first sip but immediately tingles the back of your throat with fresh ginger and chili heat. Like a cold glass of tom kha gai soup, this slightly sour drink is definitely strange but in the way that keeps you going back for one more sip until all that's left is a slimy layer of coconut seafoam clinging to the drink's perfectly square ice cubes.

The Batida at Juniper ($9). - TARA MORGAN
  • Tara Morgan
  • The Batida at Juniper ($9).

Bar: Juniper

>Drink Name: Batida

Description: Cachaca, lime, cream of coconut, lemongrass simple syrup, umbrella.

Price: $9

Glass: Stemless wine glass

Garnishes: A tiny toothpick umbrella lounging on the lip of the wine glass

Booze: Cachaca, a fiery Brazilian spirit distilled from sugarcane juice

Ice: Standard restaurant cubes

History: In Brazil, a batida is a type of cocktail typically made with cachaca, fruit juice, sugar and often coconut milk or sweetened condensed milk. Batidas are traditionally blended or shaken with ice and common flavors include passion fruit, coconut and guanabana or soursop.

Verdict: Juniper's Batida manages to be both sweeter and tarter than Mai Thai's. The cocktail also has a much creamier texture, like coconut lime sorbet, and the lemongrass is barely detectable. Though points were deducted for the standard ice and the stemless wine glass, the tiny paper umbrella was a festive touch.

Final Verdict: Mai Thai's Siam Sunray edged out Juniper's Batida with its more complex, layered flavors and better presentation. It also won on the price front: During Mai Thai's happy hour you can get two Siam Sunrays for the price of one, while you only get $1 off the drink during Juniper's happy hour. That said, if you can suck down two of these tart, creamy gut-punchers in a row, you're pretty hardcore.