Mai Tai

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Cocktail History

The Mai Tai is a classic tiki cocktail that was created by Victor Bergeron in 1944 at Trader Vic’s, his Polynesian-themed restaurant and bar located in Emeryville, California. The recipe features many of the usual ingredients you’d expect in a tiki drink including rum, orange liqueur, and lime but adds orgeat, a French almond syrup with a sweet nutty flavor.

Cocktail Ingredients

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

White Rum: This is a type of rum made with molasses or sugar cane juice and a neutral spirit that is filtered and bottled right away without the aging process. We used BACARDÍ Superior White Rum because it has a soft and slightly sweet rum flavor. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic White Cane Spirit in place of the rum.

Orange Curaçao: This is a liqueur made with oranges, sugar, and brandy or rum. We used Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge because it has a rich Cognac base with notes of bitter orange, hazelnut, and toffee. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Monin Premium Triple Sec Syrup in place of the orange liqueur.

Lime Juice: This is the liquid juice of a lime. We used freshly squeezed lime juice.

Orgeat Syrup: This is a sweetener made with roasted almonds, orange blossom, sugar, and water. We used Liber & Co. Almond Orgeat Syrup because it’s delicious and high quality.

Dark Rum: This is a type of rum made with sugarcane, spices, and alcohol that has been barrel aged for a long period of time. We used Mount Gay Eclipse Rum because it has notes of banana, vanilla, caramel, and spices. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Ritual Zero Proof Rum Alternative in place of the rum.

Mint Sprig: This is an herb. We used fresh Mojito mint.

Orchid Blossom: This is the flower of an orchid plant.

Bartending Tools

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

Jigger: This is used to measure and pour ingredients. We used the Japanese jigger from the A Bar Above 14-Piece Silver Bar Set.

Boston Shaker: This is used to shake ingredients. We used the Boston shaker from the A Bar Above 14-Piece Silver Bar Set.

Hawthorne Strainer: This is used to strain out ice and solid ingredients after the cocktail is shaken. We used the A Bar Above Hawthorne Strainer.

Paring Knife: This is used to cut ingredients. We used the OXO Good Grips 3.5 Inch Paring Knife.

Juicer: This is used to juice citrus. We used the ALEEHAI Manual Fruit Juicer.

Bar Spoon: This is used to add the rum float. We used the Barfly Stainless Steel Teardrop Bar Spoon.

Cocktail Pick: This is used to hold the garnish. We used one from the Homestia Stainless Steel Cocktail Pick Set.

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 hadn’t tried orgeat before trying it in the Mai Tai 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.

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Which of our palates is yours most like?
Find out if your palate is most similar to Alex’s or Kendall’s by answering five questions.

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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.

Sale
The Art of Vintage Cocktails
The Art of Vintage Cocktails
Hardcover Book; Rosenbaum, Stephanie (Author); English (Publication Language); 108 Pages – 01/07/2014 (Publication Date) – Egg & Dart (Publisher)
$5.99

AuthorThe Art of Vintage Cocktails

Yields1 ServingPrep Time5 mins

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

Method
1

Add white rum, orange curaçao, lime juice, orgeat syrup, and cubed ice to a shaker.

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a lowball glass filled with fresh crushed ice.

4

Carefully float dark rum on top with a bar spoon.

5

Garnish with mint sprig and orchid blossom.

Ingredients

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

Directions

Method
1

Add white rum, orange curaçao, lime juice, orgeat syrup, and cubed ice to a shaker.

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a lowball glass filled with fresh crushed ice.

4

Carefully float dark rum on top with a bar spoon.

5

Garnish with mint sprig and orchid blossom.

Mai Tai

Make It a Mocktail: Use Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic White Cane Spirit in place of the white rum, Monin Premium Triple Sec Syrup in place of the orange liqueur, and Ritual Zero Proof Rum Alternative in place of the dark rum to try a booze-free version of this drink.

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More Tiki Cocktails

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

Privateer Cocktail Recipe

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

Ginger Inferno Cocktail Recipe

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 Cocktail Recipe

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

Iron Ranger Cocktail Recipe

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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