Mai Tai: 31 Cocktail Recipes of the King of Tiki Drinks

Table of Contents

 

Coming from the Tahitian phrase 'Maita'i roa ae!' meaning, “very good”, this cocktail is considered the king of tiki drinks. It is made of rum, orgeat, lime juice, and orange curacao. For an authentic mai tai, opt for Jamaican aged rum and Jamaican white rum. Better, use rhum agricole since this is the nearest you can get to make a real mai tai. Another unique feature of the Mai Tai is the orgeat, a syrup made from almonds, sugar and orange flower water. The oil from the almonds and the water do not mix fully but you cannot really separate them, even if you try. According to mai tai enthusiasts and reputable bartenders, a mai tai is not a mai tai without the orgeat.  

Mai Tai is disputably inspired by QB Cooler, a cocktail created by Donn Beach in 1933. Beach was known to be the first to run a tiki bar, designed to reflect the Polynesian culture. Don’s Beachcomber is the first tiki-inspired bar to be a chain. In fact, he was known as the founding father of the tiki culture. Aside from the QB Cooler, he also created the Sumatra Kula, Navy Grog and Three Dots and a Dash, among the many others.

Victor Bergeron, also known as Trader Vic is credited to have created the Mai Tai as we know today. Trader Vic’s is the chain of tiki bars operated by Bergeron. He was known for his eccentric style of serving his cocktails.

Although made from different ingredients, patrons claim that the drinks are fairly similar in taste. Trader Vic’s creation of the Mai Tai in 1944 is simpler with just 2 kinds rum, lime juice and orgeat as the main ingredients. The QB Cooler of Beach’s, created 11 years earlier, was more complicated using three rums, 2 citrus juices, falernum, honey and Angosturra bitters.

Trivia: 

Trader’s Vic original recipe of the Mai Tai made from J. Wray and Nephew’s 1940s Rum became so popular that it nearly wiped out the entire world supply. Valued at $54,000 per liter in 2019, it is touted as the most expensive rum for a single bottle. It is so rare that only one out of the four known bottles of the rum went into display during Europe’s first rum festival, the RumFest in 2007. Expensive as it is, it is no longer available in the market. 

Classic Mai Tai

Without the 17-year old rum from the market, Trader Vic opted to use the 15-year old J. Wray and Nephew rum. For a more authentic Mai Tai without breaking your wallet, stick with the Jamaican rums. This is the adaptation to the original Mai Tai.

Ingredients 

2 oz Jamaican aged rum

2 oz Jamaican white rum 

3/4 oz orange curacao

1 oz fresh lime juice

1/2 oz Liber & Co. Almond Orgeat

Instruction to Make:

Combine all ingredients into your cocktail shaker, filled with ice. 

Shake and strain over fresh ice in an old-fashioned glass.

Garnish with a lime wheel and spanked mint sprig. 

Note: To spank mint, just smack it a few times on your hand. Spanking releases the oil in the leaves, resulting in a more heightened sensory experience.


Basic Mai Tai Recipes

These are recipes that deviated too little from the original recipe. There are a lot of words to describe these cocktail recipes but definitely, boring is not one of them

Pergatitja Mai Tai

Instead of using the standard lime juice, this version makes use of lemonade. Mai Tai calls for fresh fruit juices but store-bought usually works well too.

Ingredients:

Instruction to make

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a shaker will ice. 
  2. Shake vigorously. 
  3. Double strain to an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. To double strain, attach the bar strainer to the shaker and pour the cocktail over a mesh strainer
  4. Garnish with lime wheel and a Luxardo Maraschino Cherry for a pop of color.

Hilton Moorea Mai Tai 

Passionfruit is one of the staple fruits of Hawaii. Known for its strong scent and sour taste, it is a good substitute for lemon or lime.  

Ingredients:

Instruction to make

  1. In a sling glass with lots of ice, add the ingredients one after the other, following the order here. 
  2. No need to shake or stir. 
  3. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and a Luxardo Maraschino Cherry. Prettify with some bougainvillea inflorescence for that tropical vibe.

Tropical Mai Tai

Light and airy - that’s the vibe of this simple mai tai cocktail. Instead of using almond orgeat, this uses simple syrup. Easy to hip up at home without stretching too far.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 oz white rum
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz amaretto
  • 1/2 oz triple sec

Instruction to make

  1. Make a simple syrup by heating equal parts water and sugar. Cook until slighlty thickened. Let cool.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine rum, lime juice, amaretto, triple sec, and 1/4 oz simple syrup. 
  3. Shake and strain over a lowball glass filled with ice.
  4. Garnish with mint leaves.

Spiced Coconut Rum Mai Tai

Need a little more pizzazz to your classic mai tai? Try something spiced rum and skip the orgeat. Not your usual mai tai blend but who cares as long as it tastes good?

Instruction:

Instruction to make

  1. Shake together the first 5 ingredients in a shaker with a handful of ice. 
  2. Strain to a stemless wine glass filled with lots of ice. 
  3. Add grenadine and stir. 
  4. Garnish with skewered pineapple wedge and a Luxardo Maraschino Cherry

Island Mai Tai

Skip the usual bar glasses and use a mason jar for a more relaxed feel. No worries of spilling it while you cavort on the beach with friends. You can even just leave it on the sand; just stick the cap on and you’re ready for some beach games. Delicately delicious too!

Ingredients:

Instruction to make

  1. Fill a mason jar with some ice.
  2. Add the juices and rums into the jar and cover.
  3. Shake for a few seconds.
  4. Add the orange curacao. Shake again.
  5. Add a Luxardo Maraschino Cherry and serve.

Modern Mai Tai

While the name is modern, this is one of the closest recipes to the original recipe in taste with the addition of the rhum agricole. Rhum agricole is cane juice rum originally distilled in the French Caribbean. To distinguish between the rum and rhum, rum is made from molasses, a by-product from making sugar while rhum is distilled from sugar cane juice. 

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz aged rum
  • 0.5 oz rhum agricole
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz Liber & Co Real Orgeat
  • 1/2 oz of orange curacao

Instruction to make

  1. Add all the ingredients into a shaker
  2. Add ice and shake well.
  3. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice.
  4. Garnish with lemon and lime wheels.

Mai Thai

Forget the fruit; this mai tai doesn’t have any. A play with the name, this mai tai cocktail has a Thai influence with the addition of the mekhong. Known as “The Spirit of Thailand”, mekhong started out as a medicated liquor but because of its smooth texture, it was developed further to blend well with other ingredients such as soda for a more modern take of the drink. Although it is qualified as a whiskey, it is more related to rum as it is made from molasses and rice.

Ingredients

Instruction to make

  1. Fill a shaker with ice.
  2. Add the ingredients except the bitters. Shake well.
  3. Pour into a stemless wine glass filled with ice. 
  4. Add a few drops of bitters.
  5. Garnish with edible flower and lime wheel.

Jaime’s Mai Tai

As if two rums are not enough, Jaime’s Mai Tai boasts of three.

Ingredients

Instruction to make

  1. Shake the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice for about 8 seconds.
  2. Strain into a tall glass filled with lots of ice.
  3. Garnish with the lime wheel, mint sprig.
  4. Squeeze some orange zest on top of the glass just before serving.

Bitter Mai Tai

No need to add the bitters if one of your main ingredients is a bitters - Campari. A liqueur considered as an aperitif, Campari is dark red in colored, its bitterness owed from the herbs added to it during the distillation process.

Ingredients:

  • 1oz Campari 
  • 1oz Smith & Cross Rum
  • 1/2 oz Dry Curaçao 
  • 1oz Lime Juice
  • 1/2 oz Liber & Co Real Orgeat
  • Lime wheel for garnish.

Instruction to make

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a shaker.
  2. Add ice and shake well.
  3. Strain into a whiskey glass filled to the brim with ice.
  4. Garnish with lime wheel and spanked mint. 

Duke’s Mai Tai

Perfected in Duke’s Waikiki and served in an ugly waikiloa tiki glass, this cocktail truly captures the tiki experience.

Ingredients

1 oz Liber & Co Real Orgeat

1/2 oz Orange curacao

1/2 oz Gold rum

1 oz Dole Pineapple Juice

1 oz Passionfruit Maracuya Nectar

1 oz Tropicana Orange Juice

1 oz Dark rum

Instruction to make

Mix all the ingredients, except the dark rum into a shaker.

Fill with ice and shake well.

Strain into a waikiloa street tiki glass filled with ice.

Garnish with pineapple slice and cocktail umbrella.

Vacation Island Mai Tai

What is a vacation without a mai tai? Try this recipe using Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum for that spicy sweet mai tai experience.

Ingredients:

Instruction to make

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the grenadine in a shaker.
  2. Shake for 10 seconds.
  3. Pour into a hurricane glass filled with ice.
  4. Drizzle with a teaspoon of grenadine.
  5. Garnish with a pineapple and orange wedge, and a Luxardo Maraschino Cherry

Innovative Mai Tai Recipes

These are recipes that took bartending into a new dimension when you can’t look at a cocktail and predict that it’s the same mai tai cocktail you’ve drunk. Well, this list proves you wrong.

Mango Mai Tai

Go tropical with this passionfruit and mango concoction to top off the regular lemon and lime juice. With just white rum and triple sec, this has lower alcohol than the other mai tai recipe that uses two rums. 

Ingredients:

Instruction to make

  1. Pour everything in a cocktail shaker with ice. 
  2. Shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds, enough to chill the ingredients without watering it down.
  3. Fill an old-fashioned glass to the brim with ice.
  4. Drain the cocktail into the glass.
  5. Garnish with skewered berries. Serve with a straw.

Midnight Mai Tai

This is a perfect cocktail for Halloween parties. Colored with either food coloring or black charcoal, this evokes just the right kind of spook for a night of scary party.

Ingredients: 

2 oz dark rum 

3/4 oz triple sec or orange curacao 

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz Liber & Co. Almond Orgeat  

3/4 tablespoon of McCormick Black Food Coloring or activated charcoal 

Pineapple wedge for a garnish 

Instruction to make:

Fill a rocks glass with ice and set aside for later. 

Put ice in your shaker and add all the ingredients into the shaker. 

Shake for 8-10 seconds. 

Pour out the water from the melted ice in the rocks glass to avoid watering down the cocktail. Add more ice up to the brim.

Double strain the cocktail into the rocks glass, especially if using activated charcoal. To double strain, attach the bar strainer to the shaker and pour the cocktail over a mesh strainer.

Garnish with a pineapple wedge.

Pineapple and Mint Flaming Mai tai

Ingredients:

For flaming

Instruction to make

  1. Add all the mai tai ingredients into a shaker filled with a handful of ice.
  2. Shake well and strain into glass
  3. Transfer into a hurricane glass filled with lots of ice.
  4. Prepare the flame
    1. In a balloon glass, add two thinly sliced pineapple, cinnamon powder and St. Aubin Rhum.
    2. Light and allow the rhum to burn inside the glass, letting the pineapple slices caramelize a little (10 seconds)
    3. Pour the flaming pineapple over the top of the cocktail.

Royal Mai Tai

This recipe is the pride of a well-known hotel in Hawaii. Featuring a cherry-vanilla puree, this mai tai cocktail forgoes the almond orgeat in favor of the amaretto. Don’t leave the bar without a taste of this for that authentic Hawaiian experience.

Ingredients:

Cherry-vanilla puree

Instruction to make

  1. Prepare the cherry-vanilla puree
    1. Add a cup of maraschino cherries or tart cherries into a blender.
    2. Scrape the vanilla bean from its pod by running the back of a knife.
    3. Add syrup from the Maraschino cherries.
    4. Blend until smooth.
  2. Assemble the cocktail. 
  3. Add some ice into a whiskey glass.
  4. Add the cherry-vanilla puree, white rum, triple sec, amaretto and the juices.
  5. Stir a little. 
  6. Float the dark rum.
  7. Add more ice.
  8. Garnish with a cocktail umbrella,a Maraschino Cherry and a watermelon wedge.

Halekulani Mai Tai

Known as one of the priciest hotels in Waikiki, this mai tai recipe from the Halekulani (lit. House befitting heaven) Hotel boasts of the rock cane sugar used in the the original Trader Vic’s Mai Tai. 

Ingredients

Instruction to make

  1. Fill a rocks glass to the brim with some ice.
  2. Pour in all the syrups and rums except the Bacardi Select. Give a little stir.
  3. Juice half a lime directly into the glass and drop the rind in as garnish.
  4. Float the Bacardi Select Rum.
  5. Add more garnish: lime wheel, sugar cane stick, mint leaf and Vanda orchid.

Mai Pineapple Shrub Tai

The signature pineapple shrub and Elemakule Tiki Bitters give this Mai Tai version a character of its own. The Elemakule Tiki Bitters was designed to incorporate the Polynesian and Caribbean tastes into these cocktails.

Ingredients:

Tom’s Pineapple Shrub

Instruction to make

  1. Make the pineapple shrub
    1. Place the pineapple slices, sugar and balsamic vinegar into a blender
    2. Blend until smooth. 
    3. Strain and keep refrigerated until use. 
  2. Assemble the mai tai
  3. Put some ice into an old-fashioned glass to chill the glass.
  4. Add some ice to a shaker. Add all the ingredients into the shaker and shake vigorously.
  5. Pour into the old-fashioned glass filled with ice. 
  6. Garnish with a lime wheel and pineapple leaves.

Spicy Mai Tai

Ingredients:

Instruction to make:

  1. Add the ingredients into a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously.
  2. Transfer to a tiki cocktail mug. Garnish with a lime wheel.
  3. Add a drop of Tabasco sauce.
  4. Place the rind from half of a lime on top of the cocktail.
  5. Fill the rind with overproof rum.
  6. Blow with a few puffs from a bar torch to glaze the garnishing and added drama.

Five-Spice Mai Tai

Another way to spice up your mai tai is the addition of the five-spice blend. A special blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel, and black pepper, this spice will surely add character, flavor and aroma to your mai tai for a more intense sensory experience.

Ingredients

Ingredients

  1. Combine the rum, orange juice, lemon juice, syrup, five-spice powder and Tabasco sauce into a shaker filled with ice. Adjust to spiciness to preference.
  2. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
  3. Strain into a stemless wine glass. Set aside. 
  4. In a shot glass, add 5 dash of Angosturra bitters in the carbonated water. 
  5. Float on the cocktail using the back of a spoon.
  6. Garnish with 2 ginger slices and Amaranthus flower. 

Mango Mai Tai II

Ingredients:

1 oz Spiced Rum 

1 oz Mango Rum 

3 oz Goya Mango Nectar 

1 oz Rose's Grenadine

Instruction to make

Combine the spiced rum, mango rum and mango nectar in a shaker with ice.

Shake for about 10 seconds to chill but not water down.

Fill an wide-rimmed chalice with ice.

Arrange a few strawberry slices around the chalice so it is clearly visible outside.

Strain the mixture into the chalice.

Garnish with ripe mango and strawberry slices.

Green Mango Mai Tai

This is a variation of the mango mai tai with the addition of the blue curacao for that green-colored cocktail.

Ingredients

Instruction to make

  1. Drop in orange slices in the base of a mason jar. Add ice and more orange slices throughout.
  2. Pour in dark rum, white rum, mango nectar, orgeat syrup, lime juice, and blue curacao. Close jars and shake well.
  3. Drop in strawberry slices and garnish with mango slices.

Mai Tai Jack

This recipe calls for Jack Daniels whiskey and triple dry whiskey. Served in a tiki-inspired goblet, it easily keeps up with the tiki theme of this cocktail.


Ingredients 

Instruction to make

  1. Fill a shaker with a handful of ice.
  2. Add all the ingredients except the grenadine into the shaker.
  3. Shake for 10 seconds.
  4. Transfer to a tiki-inspired goblet.
  5. Top with grenadine.
  6. Garnish with strawberries and mint.

Blue Mai Tai Shots

Your mai tai doesn’t have to be sipped all the time. Sometimes, you have to just shoot it. Chill the liquids before mixing.

Instruction to make:

  1. Rim edge of shot glass with lime and brown sugar. Set aside. 
  2. Add blue curaçao, white rum, lime juice and orgeat syrup to an ice-filled shaker. Shake well. 
  3. Strain mix into shot glasses and top with a dark rum float. 
  4. Garnish with a lime wedge.  

Mai Tai Cocktail Slushie

This slushie recipe of the mai tai is a refreshing addition to this list. Instead of the bitters, grapefruit juice is added for that slightly bitter taste.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz Dole Pineapple Juice
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • 1 oz almond liqueur
  • 1 1/2 oz white rum
  • 1 1/2 oz dark rum

Instruction to make

In a blender, add all the ingredients together.

Add 2 cups of ice.

Blend until slushy consistency.

Transfer to a large balloon glass.

Garnish with skewered blackberry, raspberry and cherry.

Hawaiian Mai Tai Punch

Planning for a party? This is a perfect solution for a well-loved drink that didn’t have to be prepared individually. More time for some quality bonding than fixing the drinks. Easy to refill too. This recipe can serve up to 14.

Ingredients

Instruction to make

  1. In a punch bowl, combine all the ingredients together. Give it a generous stir.
  2. Use large chunks of ice so the punch doesn’t get too watery in a short time. 
  3. Garnish with orange wheels, cherries, and mint sprigs. 

Note: Spank one sprig to release the oils. Give it a little shake over the punch bowl to sprinkle the oil. Don’t overdo it so the mint doesn’t overwhelm the punch. 

Monkeypod Mai Tai

Now here’s a fancy mai tai for everyone with a fetish for all things fancy. The foam, made with passionfruit puree is not anything you can buy from the market. It has to be painstakingly made for your discerning taste.

Ingredients:

Instruction to make: 

  1. Make the passionfruit foam.
    1. Mix foam ingredients well and put in a nitrous-oxide (NO2) infuser to half capacity. 
    2. Use 4 charges for a liter-sized infuser.
  2. You can also blend ingredients on high speed till foamy. 
  3. Add lime juice, orgeat, orange curaçao and Old Lahaina Light Rum to a shaker. 
  4. Shake with 1 cup cubed ice about 30 seconds and pour into highball glass
  5. Float dark rum. 
  6. Top with honey-liliko‘i foam and garnish with pineapple half moon.

Blue Mai Tai

Who says mai tais should be pale or yellow? Mai tai should also be blue! Try this one made from blue curacao and vodka, instead of the usual rum.

Ingredients:

Instruction to make

  1. Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake for about 10 seconds. 
  3. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice for serving.
  4. Garnish with skewered lime wedge, Luxardo Maraschino Cherry and sprinkle with freshly ground nutmeg. 

Grilled Pineapple Mai Tai

Inspired by the flowing lava of Hawaii, this version of Mai Tai uses juice from grilled pineapple and lime. The smoky taste of this cocktail gives it its distinct flavor and aroma you will surely love.

Ingredients:

Instruction to make

  1. Preheat electric grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate.
  2. Place sugar in a shallow bowl. Dip lime halves in sugar to coat.
  3. Grill lime and pineapple wedges, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. 
  4. Remove from grill and let cool.
  5. Fill a cocktail shaker and old-fashioned glass with ice.
  6. Squeeze the grilled lime and pineapple into the shaker using a lemon squeezer
  7. Add gold rum, silver rum, triple sec, and orgeat syrup into the shaker. Shake for 8-10 seconds.  
  8. Strain into the glass and garnish with a grilled pineapple wedge.

Perfect Maui Mai Tai

The locals of Hawaii claim that your Hawaiian vacation is not complete without a taste of the Mai Tai cocktail perfected by the locals. Try the twist provided by the addition of a macademia nut-flavored rum.

Ingredients

Instruction to make:

  1. Add ice to a shaker.
  2. Add the lime juice, rum, curacao, amaretto, orange juice and pineapple juice.
  3. Shake for 5-10 seconds.
  4. Transfer to a hurricane glass.
  5. Float the macadamia nut-flavored rum. Don’t stir, let the flavored rum incorporate into the concoction.
  6. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and a Luxardo Maraschino Cherry.

Virgin Mai Tai

For the non-drinker, here’s the perfect mocktail for you. 

Ingredients:

2 oz Dole Pineapple Juice

8 drops Rodelle's Pure Almond Extract

1 c Lakewood Cranberry Juice

1 tsp lime juice

4 pineapple slices for garnish

Instruction to make

Fill a Collins glass half-full with ice.

Add the liquid ingredients into the glass.

Give it a little stir.

Add more ice and decorate with a pineapple ring.

Our Conclusion

Easiest Recipe

The Blue Mai Tai gets the vote for the easiest recipe in this list. With just 4 ingredients and 1 garnish, it could easily be made in less than 1 minute.

Fanciest Recipe

The fanciest recipe undoubtedly belongs to the Monkeypod Mai Tai with the passionfruit foam.

Most Innovative

Most innovative recipe here is the midnight mai tai, with the addition of activated charcoal for a cocktail experience that fits well in the spooky Halloween party.

Most Beautiful

Our vote for the most beautiful recipe in this list is for the Flaming Pineapple and Mint Mai Tai. The blue flame of the overproof wine is truly a sight to behold.

Perfect Pair

For the mai tai, the base alcohol is rum so here’s some dishes you can try to add to your party spread. Consistent with the tiki theme, indulge in seafoods like Ahi Poke Bowl with Pineapple and Avocado, Grilled Garlic and Black Pepper Shrimp, Grilled Spiced Snapper with Mango and Red Onion Salad, and Cashew and Coconut Shrimp

Everything You Should Know About Hosting a Tiki Party

  1. Party venue. Beach parties are the easiest choice for a tiki-inspired party but you can definitely have some tiki-inspired party in your backyard

  2. Decor. Splurge on some tiki torches, set up a tiki bar, pineapples, coconut. The ideas are limitless because tiki parties are usually the easiest one to host because of its relaxed setting. Get more ideas here.

  3. Drinks. One perfect choice for a cocktail recipe is the Malibu coconut rum. Here are six new flavors you should check out when planning your party. Don’t forget to get the right accessories to speed up your budding bartending skills. You can also try adding bitters for a more flavorful cocktail. Pineapple and coconut-based drinks are also very into the theme.

  4. Food. Stick to finger foods like grilled chicken, seafood kebabs, pork barbeque and some bite-sized fruits served in skewers for easy picking even with sandy hands. For more recipe ideas, get it here

  5. Get into the groove with the right music. Try this playlist on Spotify. Everything here is good enough for some easy dancing.

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