I love a classic Mai Tai cocktail. If you’ve haven’t tried this classic recipe, I highly recommend it! This drink is one of the most famous tiki cocktails of all time. Mixed with rum, orange liqueur, fresh lime juice and orgeat (a nuanced almond syrup), this recipe is fresh, balanced and dare I say … perfect.

Legend has it that when the first Mai Tai was served, the patron yelled out “Mai Tai!” which means “the best—out of this world” in Tahitian. A Mai Tai is a classic cocktail you will be proud to have in your home bar skillset.

More fruity drink recipes: Rum Runner, Blue Hawaiian, Pina Colada, Daiquiri

Ingredients

  • White Rum – This recipe calls for both light rum and dark rum and we definitely recommend using both. 
  • Orange Liqueur – You can also use any orange liqueur you have on hand like Orange Curacao, Grand Marnier or Cointreau.
  • Lime Juice – Freshly squeezed, of course. 
  • Orgeat Syrup – A rich and nutty, almond syrup. 
  • Dark Rum – For floating on the top. 
  • Garnish Ideas – Pineapple wedge, cherry, lime slice or sprig of fresh mint make a great garnish.

The best glassware to serve a classic Mai Tai in is a double old fashioned glass. I also used these gold cocktail picks to hold my cherries and lime slice for garnish.

Best Rum for a Mai Tai

The dark rum that floats on the top of your Mai Tai is a big part of the flavor. There are two great options for this ingredient.

Aged Rum – Also called añejo rum. The aging process creates more complex and rich flavors.

Dark Rum – Also called black rum, it has a dark color and a rich, smoky flavor. Note: Be sure to avoid spiced rums, which can also be dark in color but are not what you want for this recipe.

Directions

  1. In a cocktail shaker with ice, add the white rum, orange liqueur, lime juice and orgeat. Shake for 10-15 seconds. 
  2. Strain the mixture into a glass filled with ice. 
  3. Slowly add the dark rum to the top of the drink. It will naturally float to the top as a dark floater.
  4. Garnish your drink with fresh mint sprig, a maraschino cherry and lime slices. Other optional garnishes are a pineapple wedge or a mini umbrella. 

What does a Mai Tai taste like? 

Maybe you’ve had a Mai Tai at a restaurant that was too sweet or a generic rum punch (possibly made with orange juice or pineapple juice). Try to erase those examples from your mind as they are not reflective of the classic recipe. This cocktail is a well-balanced, fresh, rum-forward cocktail. This drink is nuanced and sophisticated. You will taste the flavors of nutty almond, citrus and notes of vanilla.

History of a Mai Tai

Trader Vic (Victor Bergeron) is sometimes credited for creating this drink at Trader Vic’s bar in the 1940s. While this may be true, the groundwork for this famous recipe was laid by Donn Beach at the Beachcomber bar in the 1930s. 

In 2007, the Bar at the Merchant Hotel in Belfast gained notoriety and a 2008 Guinness World Record for selling the most expensive cocktail ever made—a $1,475 Trader Vic’s Mai Tai, featuring the original 17-year-old Wray & Nephew rum. The original recipe featured this rum.

Tips for Making

  • The dark rum will naturally float to the top of your drink if you add it last.
  • If you want to use a fancy rum in this drink, opt for upgrading the dark rum that floats on the top.
  • The best ice to serve in a Mai Tai is crushed ice.

Serving Suggestions

Recipes that pair well with a Mai Tai.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Mai Tai cocktail made of?

It is mixed with rum, orange liqueur, fresh lime juice and orgeat.

Where did the Mai Tai originate from?

This drink is said to be from California. It was made famous at Trader Vic’s by bartender Victor J. Bergeron in the 1940s.

How to you pronounce Orgeat?

Or-ZHAAT


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Get the Recipe

Learn to make a classic Mai Tai at home.

Yield 1 cocktail

Prep 5 minutes

Instructions

  • In a cocktail shaker with ice, add the white rum, orange liqueur, lime juice and orgeat. Shake for 10-15 seconds. 

  • Strain the mixture into a glass filled with ice. 

  • Slowly add the dark rum to the top of the drink. It will naturally float to the top as a dark floater.

  • Garnish your drink with fresh mint sprig, a maraschino cherry and lime slices. Other optional garnishes are a pineapple wedge or a mini umbrella. 

Notes

  • The dark rum will naturally float to the top of your drink if you add it last.
  • If you want to use a fancy rum in this drink, opt for upgrading the dark rum that floats on the top.
  • The best ice to serve in a Mai Tai is crushed ice.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts

Mai Tai

Amount per Serving

% Daily Value*

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated, using Spoonacular, for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.

End