Mai Tai Cocktail Recipe

Mai Tai Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

August 9, 2023


The Mai Tai is a classic Polynesian-style cocktail that was created in 1944 by Victor J. Bergeron, the founder of Trader Vic's. It is said that he wanted to create a drink that showcased the flavors of the Caribbean, and the Mai Tai was born. The name 'Mai Tai' comes from the Tahitian word 'Maita'i', which means 'good' or 'excellent'. This cocktail quickly gained popularity and became a staple in tiki bars around the world.

  • The original recipe called for 17-year-old J. Wray & Nephew Rum, which is no longer available.
  • The Mai Tai has been adapted and modified over the years, with many variations now existing.
  • This cocktail is often associated with tropical vacations and tiki culture.

How Mai Tai Tastes?

The Mai Tai has a balanced, sweet, and tangy taste with a hint of almond from the orgeat syrup. The combination of light and dark rums gives it a rich and complex flavor, while the lime juice adds a refreshing citrus note.

Interesting facts about Mai Tai

  • The Mai Tai is considered one of the quintessential tiki cocktails.
  • The original Mai Tai did not include any fruit juices, as many modern versions do.
  • The cocktail has been featured in numerous films and television shows, including the 1961 film 'Blue Hawaii' starring Elvis Presley.


Recipe. How to make Mai Tai Drink

  1. Fill a shaker with ice.
  2. Add the light rum, dark rum, lime juice, orange curaçao, orgeat syrup, and simple syrup to the shaker.
  3. Shake well until chilled and combined.
  4. Strain the mixture into a glass filled with crushed ice.
  5. Garnish with a mint sprig, lime wheel, and cherry.

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh lime juice for the best flavor.
  • Shake the cocktail well to ensure all the ingredients are well combined.
  • Crushed ice is preferred as it dilutes the drink less.

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What you could change in Mai Tai

  • Light rum: Can be replaced with any other white rum.
  • Dark rum: Can be replaced with any other dark rum.
  • Orange curaçao: Can be replaced with triple sec or another orange liqueur.
  • Orgeat syrup: Can be replaced with almond syrup.

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Frequently Asked Questions on Mai Tai

What does 'Tiki culture' refer to?

Tiki culture or 'Tiki pop' is a style that began in the United States in the mid-20th century. It is inspired by the romanticized perception of tropical cultures, particularly Polynesian.

Is there a non-alcoholic version of the Mai Tai?

Yes, there are non-alcoholic versions known as 'mocktails'. Typically these will use tropical juices to replicate the sweet and tangy flavors of the original Mai Tai.

What kind of glass is best to serve a Mai Tai in?

The Mai Tai is traditionally served in a 'double old-fashioned' glass, but can also be served in a highball glass or a novelty 'Tiki' mug.

What is the meaning of 'curaçao'?

Curaçao refers to a type of liqueur made from the dried peel of the Laraha citrus fruit, native to the island of Curaçao in the Caribbean.

Why is the cherry often used as a garnish?

The cherry provides a pop of color contrast against the cocktail, and adds a layer of sweetness when eaten towards the end of the drink.

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Extra information to help you make Mai Tai

The basic composition of simple syrup is relatively straightforward – a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water. This mixture is heated until the sugar dissolves, resulting in a clear, sweet syrup.

Learn everything about simple syrup

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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