This original mai tai cocktail recipe has a flavorful balance between fresh lime juice, orange liqueur, and aged rum. With a slight nuttiness from the orgeat syrup and a touch of sweetness from the simple syrup.
When you think of tropical cocktails, Hawaiian cocktails, or tiki cocktails the mai tai is a favorite that is sure to come to mind. My first dive into the tiki cocktails culture was the mai tai and it certainly did not disappoint.
History Of The Original Mai Tai
The mai tai cocktail originated in Oakland California in 1944 by a barman Victor "Trader Vic" Bergeron. When Trader Vic took 17 year old Jamaican Rum, rock candy syrup, orange liqueur, lime juice, and orgeat syrup, shook it together in a cocktail shaker and served over cracked ice, the Mai Tai cocktail was born.
And when a friend from Tahiti exclaimed "Mai Tai!" after taking a drink the name of this cocktail was born as well.
The mai tai was one of the hardest cocktail recipes I've had to research. Brutalized for decades many variations exist. Including using white rum, multiple rums, varying juices, and the addition of "floating" dark rum on top of the drink.
It seemed everyone had a slightly different way to make the Mai Tai. Needless to say, there are hundreds of recipes for this famous cocktail and I've tried to stay closer to the roots of the original Mai Tai recipe itself.
One is reminded of tropical drinks when the name Mai Tai is heard. But the cocktail doesn't have that typical tropical drink look with various layers of bright colored juices and syrups.
The original Mai Tai recipe is a fairly drab looking cocktail. Don't let the look fool you, that taste is outstanding. I wasn't out for a flashy version, I wanted to taste something closer to the original. So using ingredients that anyone can acquire simply, I put this cocktail recipe together.
The ingredients I use to make this cocktail are Anejo (aged) rum, Cointreau, orgeat syrup, simple syrup, and fresh-squeezed lime juice.
When it comes to rum, the base for our cocktail. The original used a 17 year old aged Jamaican rum. Needless to say, you probably won't be using that in your Mai Tai.
When I started experimenting with trying to figure out a close version of the original Mai Tai recipe. I was using a fairly inexpensive aged rum and I liked what I had come up with. After nailing down my recipe I started trying it with some more expensive higher quality blended aged rums. That are typically drunk neat or on the rocks.
These rums brought even more to the flavor profile of the drink. I have definitely found a new favorite rum cocktail recipe in the Mai Tai that is worthy of a high quality rum!
As for the other ingredients, their quality is important as well. The original Mai Tai recipe used orange curacao for the orange liqueur portion. I am typically fine with using triple sec, an inexpensive orange liqueur, for most recipes.
But this one I broke out the higher quality more flavorful Cointreau and was glad I did. For it added a little more to the citrus flavor of the drink. Instead of using rock candy syrup like the original, I stayed with simple syrup. Something I readily have on hand.
Orgeat is pronounced "or-zhaat" and is a syrup for flavoring that is typically made with almonds. Not normally an ingredient that most home bars have on hand. But a necessity for that slightly nutty flavor it brings to the Mai Tai and it's not difficult to find.
Tips And Tricks
I have found that fresh lime juice is best in most cocktail recipes. For this original Mai Tai recipe, it is definitely worth the extra effort. I squeeze about a half of lime for this cocktail then use the spent shell for part of the garnish.
Making this original Mai Tai recipe is fairly simple. Combine the rum, Cointreau, orgeat syrup, simple syrup, and fresh lime juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake the ingredients together, then strain into a rocks glass over fresh crushed ice.
Garnish with the half spent lime shell and a sprig of fresh mint to give it that tropical island effect. This original Mai Tai recipe has a great flavor balance from the fresh zesty citrus. To the slight nutty orgeat and the deeper flavors of the aged rum of your choosing.
My Creative Manner is answering the question "what's there to drink" with an easy cocktail recipe ~ Steve
Other Great Recipes You May Enjoy:
- Frozen Mudslide Drink Recipe
- Bahama Mama Cocktail
- Bacardi Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri
- Classic Margarita With Fresh Lime Juice
Mai Tai Cocktail Recipe
This Mai Tai cocktail recipe is a flavorful balance between fresh lime juice, orange liqueur, and aged rum. Orgeat syrup brings in a touch of nuttiness while simple syrup brings in a but of sweetness.
- 2 Ounce Anejo Rum
- ½ Ounce Cointreau
- ¼ Ounce Orgeat Syrup
- ¼ Ounce Simple Syrup
- ¾ Ounce Lime Juice fresh squeezed
- ½ Cup Ice crushed for glass
- ½ Cup Ice for shaker
- ½ Small Spent Lime for garnish
- 1 small Mint Spring for garnish
Into a cocktail shaker half filled with ice add the rum, Cointreau, orgeat syrup, simple syrup, and lime juice.
Shake the ingredients together for 10-15 seconds.
Strain into a rocks glass (short 8-ounce glass) filled with crushed ice.
Garnish with half spent lime shell and mint spring for a tropical Island effect.
The nutritional value may vary depending on the ingredients used.
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