This classic Mai Tai is a tiki favorite! It’s a perfect refresher during the hot summer months but can also be a fabulous change-of-pace cocktail while dreaming by the fire during the worst of the winter season.
If you ever get the chance to go to Hawaii, you will notice that Mai Tais are available pretty much everywhere. My husband and I were lucky enough to make the trip before the pandemic hit. On our final day, we found ourselves at the Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian. We thought we would have one drink but that quickly turned into a long afternoon of drinking out of pineapples and making new friends.
What is a Mai Tai?
The name Mai Tai comes from the Tahitian word “maita’i” which means “excellence.” This drink certainly lives up to its name! The recipe dates back to the 1940’s in Oakland, California where Victor J. Bergeron claims to have invented it at his restaurant, Trader Vic’s. The previous owner of the restaurant, however, claims he invented back in the 30’s. The history of the Mai Tai can be widely debated but if one thing is for sure, it’s that this drink will make you feel like you’re on vacation.
The fruity blend of orange curaçao and lime perfectly balances the white and dark rums without tasting like a sugar bomb. You won’t always see orgeat as an ingredient listed in a modern day Mai Tai, but if you want to stay true to the original recipe then I highly recommend trying it out!
What is Orgeat?
Made from almonds, sugar and rose water or orange flower water, Orgeat is a sweet syrup that doesn’t contain any alcohol. Making your own is pretty complicated so I suggest investing in a bottle to keep on your bar cart. If you can’t find Orgeat, you can use any type of almond syrup.
Hint: Search for it where you’d find coffee syrups!
If you love Tiki drinks, try out this Cinnamon Jungle Bird.
Classic Tiki Mai Tai
- 1 1/2 ounces white rum
- 3/4 ounce orange curaçao
- 3/4 ounce lime juice
- 1/2 ounce orgeat or almond syrup
- 1/2 ounce dark rum
- Add white rum, curaçao, lime juice and orgeat to a shaker with ice.
- Shake and strain into a glass with ice.
- Float the dark rum on top.
- Garnish with a pineapple wedge, an orange slice, a cherry and a tiny umbrella