Mai Tai Recipes

mai-tai-on-beachWhile the name, “Mai Tai” evokes images of a tropical Polynesian paradise and beautiful girls in hula skirts, the original Mai Tai recipe was was concocted in 1944 by an American restaurateur named Victor Bergeron. Bergeron created his Polynesian-inspired cocktail on the mudflats of the East Bay of San Francisco. Bergeron was the famous “Trader Vic.” of Trader Vic Restaurants. Vic had had some success with other rum drinks but he thought he needed a new one. After throwing together the now legendary ingredients, Vic handed glasses of his new drink to two Tahitian friends, Carrie and Eastham Guild, and after one sip, Carrie exclaimed, “Mai tai roe ae,” which means “out of this world” in Tahitian, so Vic named his new drink — the Mai Tai.

The new drink became very popular at Trader Vic’s restaurants in San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle, and when Vic traveled to Hawaii in 1953 he introduced the Mai Tai to Hawaii at the Moana and Royal Hawaiian Hotels. Since then, hundreds of different versions of Mai Tai recipes have appeared throughout the world, but cocktail connoisseurs still feel that Trader Vic’s Mai Tai remains the best of them all.

original-Mai-TaiTrader Vic’s Mai Tai

  • 2 oz. aged Jamaican rum
  • 3/4 oz. freshly-squeezed lime juice, reserve the 2 juiced lime halves
  • 1/2 oz. orange curacao liqueur
  • 1/4 oz. rock candy syrup, also called rich simple syrup
  • 1/4 oz. orgeat (almond) syrup
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 2 sprigs of mint for garnish

Except the mint sprig, place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously to create foam. Pour into two double Old Fashioned or on-the-rocks glasses. Drop in a juiced lime half into each glass and garnish with a sprig of mint.

royal-hawaiian-mai-taiPink Mai Tai

An adaptation of Trader Vic’s Mai Tai recipe, this pink version comes from the famous Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii.

  • 1 oz. dark Bacardi rum
  • 1 oz. light Bacardi rum
  • 1 oz. orange curacao liqueur
  • 3 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • Splash Amaretto liqueur
  • Splash simple syrup
  • Splash grenadine
  • Slice of fresh pineapple
  • One maraschino cherry

Pour each ingredient in the order listed into a tall Highball glass filled with shaved ice. Stir quickly with a swizzle stick and garnish with the pineapple slice and cherry.

mango-mai-tai-cocktailMango Mai Tai

A newer version of the Mai Tai, this variation uses mango flavored rum to give this drink a truly tropical taste.

  • 1 1/2 oz. mango-flavored rum
  • 1/4 oz. orgeat (almond) syrup
  • 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/4 oz. grenadine
  • 1 pineapple wedge

Add all ingredients, except the pineapple wedge to a cocktail shaker. Shake with ice and pour into a hurricane glass filled with ice. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.