A classic Mai Tai recipe is a strong cocktail, with a refreshing citrus and rum flavor that isn’t overly sweet.
The Mai Tai is a classic tiki cocktail that conjures up images of an exotic, tropical island somewhere in the South Pacific.
Whip up this drink, relax in a lounge chair outside, and close your eyes. You’ll have no trouble imagining the feel of an ocean breeze and the sound of waves crashing on shore.
Mai Tai Origin
Despite popular misconception, the Mai Thai is not from Thailand!
According to Wikipedia, Victor J. Bergeron claimed to invent the Mai Tai at his restaurant, Trader Vic’s, in Oakland, California in 1944.
Mai Tai Cocktail Recipe
If you've never made a Mai Tai at home, you'll see just how easy it is!
Mai Tai Recipe Ingredients
- Light rum
- Orange curacao
- Lime juice
- Crushed ice
- Dark rum
- Maraschino cherry, for garnish
- Lime wheel, for garnish
- Mint sprig, for garnish
How to Make a Mai Tai From Scratch
- Add the light rum to a rocks glass or a shaker glass.
- Pour in the orange curacao.
- Measure in the orgeat syrup.
- Add the fresh lime juice.
- Now add the crushed ice and give it a stir. If you're using a shaker glass, put the lid on and give it a shake!
- Slowly pour the dark rum on top to float it. If you're using a shaker glass, pour the cocktail into a rocks glass with crushed ice and then slowly pour the dark rum on top.
- Add your favorite garnishes. I like a mint sprig, lime wheel, and maraschino cherry. Enjoy!
Equipment for This Recipe
Let me start by saying that you don’t need any fancy equipment to make this recipe! It’s easy to mix up in a glass.
However, if you feel like you want to take your cocktails to the next level, a shaker set is an easy way to do it. And bonus, you can find a decent set that’s relatively inexpensive!
Variations on This Recipe
Different variations on a Mai Thai Recipe add orange juice or pineapple juice, amaretto, falernum, or grenadine.
Tips for Making a Mai Tai Cocktail
- Use fresh-squeezed lime juice.
- If you can’t find orgeat syrup, for this recipe you can substitute 2 tablespoons simple syrup + 1 drop almond extract + 1 drop orange blossom water.
- The classic version of this cocktail is slightly tart in a refreshing way. However, if you prefer your cocktails on the sweeter side, feel free to add a splash of pineapple juice.
Mai Tai Recipe FAQs
How Do I Float Rum on a Drink?
Even though I’ve heard that floating dark rum on top isn’t part of the original Mai Thai recipe, I think it’s a fun and pretty addition! You can choose if you want to do it or not.
To float the dark rum on top, gently pour the rum onto the top of the ice. It will float!
Pro Tip: To help the rum pour gently and slowly, you can hold a spoon upside down over the ice and pour the rum onto the spoon, letting it flow into the glass on the ice.
What is Orgeat Syrup?
Orgeat syrup is a sweet syrup with a slight bit of creaminess, a strong almond flavor, and a hint of floral orange blossom water.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have orgeat syrup, you can substitute simple syrup with a couple drops of almond extract and orange extract.
How Do You Garnish a Mai Tai?
A lime wheel and mint sprig are classic garnishes for the Mai Tai. I like to also add a maraschino cherry for the little pop of color and sweetness.
If you really want an elaborate, fun presentation, you can add a pineapple wedge!
What Type of Glass is a Mai Tai Served In?
A Mai Tai Cocktail is served in any of the following kinds of glasses:
More Cocktails to Try
- Hot Toddy
- Sour Cherry Margarita
- Blackberry Mojito Mocktail or Cocktail
- French 75 Cocktail
- Lilac Violet Wedding Cocktail
- Dragon Fruit Mojito
Mai Tai Cocktail Recipe
- Stir together the light rum, orange curacao, orgeat syrup, and lime juice in a rocks glass.
- Add the crushed ice and float the dark rum on top.
- Garnish with a cherry, lime wheel, and mint sprig.
- Serve immediately.
- How to Float Rum: To float the dark rum on top, gently pour the rum onto the top of the ice. To help the rum gently and slowly pour, you can hold a spoon upside down over the ice and pour the rum onto the spoon, letting it flow into the glass on the ice.
- Substitute for Orgeat: If you can’t find orgeat syrup, for this recipe you can substitute 2 tablespoons simple syrup + 1 drop almond extract + 1 drop orange blossom water.