Mai Tai

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Cocktail History

The Mai Tai is a classic tiki cocktail that was created by Victor Bergeron in in 1944 at Trader Vic’s, his Polynesian-style bar in California. The recipe features many of the usual ingredients you’d expect in a tiki drink with the addition of orgeat, a French almond syrup typically used in coffees and Italian sodas.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Dark Rum: This is the base spirit. We used Appleton Estate’s Gold Jamaican Rum because it’s a great affordable spirit with notes of spices and vanilla that pair well with the almond syrup.

Orange Curaçao: This is a citrus liqueur that adds sweet orange flavor. We used Grand Marnier because it offers additional notes of Cognac, orange, and vanilla bean.

Lime Juice: This adds sour citrus flavors that balance out the spiciness of the rum. We use fresh citrus juice because it’s less bitter than the bottled stuff and tastes better.

Orgeat Syrup: This is a sweetener that adds almond taste and aroma. We used Liber & Co. Almond Orgeat Syrup because it’s one of the highest quality on the market.

Mint: This is one of the garnishes. It adds fragrant mint aroma.

Orchid Blossom: This is the other garnish. It adds floral aroma.

Tasting Notes

The Mai Tai begins with slight floral and almond aromas and starts with a sweet aged rum taste with notes of citrus that lingers on the tongue and a slight burn of rum in the aftertaste.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: If this tropical beauty doesn’t make you want to lounge in a beach chair all day, we don’t know what will. Before making this drink, we’d heard of orgeat but hadn’t tried it and couldn’t find it in local stores at first, so we almost skipped it. Wow, are we glad we didn’t because it really makes all the difference.

Alex’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“In my opinion, a well-made Mai Tai is the quintessential tiki drink because it does so much with so few ingredients. This simple mixture of orange, lime, almond, and your choice of rums is so pleasingly tasty that nobody wouldn’t enjoy it on a hot day, and thanks to its easy template, you can really use any mixture of rums in any quantities that you see fit. I’ve made Mai Tais with all dark rum, all white rum, a mixture of both, rum from different countries, overproof rum, and several other iterations that have all maintained the spirit of the drink while being wildly different from one another. For this reason, it’s the perfect playground for a tiki bartender to go wild with.”

Kendall’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“This was the very first tiki cocktail I ever tried, and I think that was the right choice because it’s such a good gateway drink to get you dreaming of hot summer days in the sand. The taste of rum is there, but it’s balanced well by the citrus and almond. Overall, the classic Mai Tai is an inoffensive tropical recipe that I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying. As is the case with most, it’s a classic for a reason!”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from The Art of Vintage Cocktails by Stephanie Rosenbaum.

AuthorThe Art of Vintage CocktailsPrep Time5 minsRating

Ingredients
 1 ½ oz Dark Rum
 ¾ oz Orange Curaçao
 ½ oz Lime Juice
 ½ oz Orgeat Almond Syrup
 ½ oz Float of Rum
 1 Mint Sprig
 1 Orchid Blossom

Method
1

Add 1 ½ oz rum, orange curaçao, lime juice, orgeat syrup, and ice to a shaker.

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a lowball glass filled with fresh crushed ice.

4

Carefully float ½ oz rum on top with a bar spoon.

5

Garnish with mint sprig and orchid blossom.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 1 ½ oz Dark Rum
 ¾ oz Orange Curaçao
 ½ oz Lime Juice
 ½ oz Orgeat Almond Syrup
 ½ oz Float of Rum
 1 Mint Sprig
 1 Orchid Blossom

Directions

Method
1

Add 1 ½ oz rum, orange curaçao, lime juice, orgeat syrup, and ice to a shaker.

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a lowball glass filled with fresh crushed ice.

4

Carefully float ½ oz rum on top with a bar spoon.

5

Garnish with mint sprig and orchid blossom.

Mai Tai

Tools & Glassware We Recommend

More Tiki Cocktails

If you like this tiki cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

 Privateer: A tequila cocktail made with passion fruit syrup, pineapple juice, lime juice, smoke and salt bitters, rosemary, and Tajín

 Ginger Inferno: A rum cocktail made with ginger liqueur, velvet falernum liqueur, lime juice, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, a lime slice, and candied ginger

 Brancolada: A rum cocktail made with Fernet-Branca Menta, pineapple juice, orange juice, coconut cream, mint, and an orange wedge

 Iron Ranger: A whiskey cocktail made with pineapple juice, lemon juice, velvet falernum liqueur, cinnamon syrup, Angostura aromatic bitters, mint, and a cinnamon stick

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