Original Mai Tai

Aloha. No, wait, let me try that again. ALOHA! There, that’s better. When I imagine myself away from the daily drudgery, I often like to go tropical — and when I go tropical, there’s only one drink for me: a Mai Tai. I’m not talking that iridescent glowing stuff served from a machine; I’m talking classic, original, worth hunting down special ingredients to have. You know, a Mai Tai. You taste buds and your imagination will thank you.

mai tai rum

As the story goes, when Trader Vic himself (Victor J. Bergeron) invented this drink, he gave it to some friends from Tahiti and they uttered, “Mai tai — roa ae!” Which, in Tahitian means “Out of this world — the best!” To you and I, that means it’s worth getting the good stuff. For this classic Mai Tai, we’re only using two alcohols, so splurge. You’re worth it.

While perusing the ingredients, you see orgeat. “Orgeat?” you ask. So did I — it’s an almond syrup. You can make your own if you’re feeling really inspired. Or, if you’re feeling a little lazy (I won’t judge you, I bought mine for this one!), I’ve found it recently at BevMo. The artisan cocktail movement certainly has its benefits.

mai tai rum curaçaomai tai orgeat

For the rum, I went with Kirk and Sweeney 12 year and for the curaçao, I went with Pierre Ferrand Orange Curaçao. Both are well worth hunting down, but use whatever you like. Unless you use blue curaçao. Then I’m going to come over, shake my head at you and judge you. Don’t do it. (It has its place, say the Captain America shot, just not here.)


Original Mai Tai
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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Serves: 1
  • 4 oz. dark rum
  • 2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. orange curaçao
  • 1 oz. orgeat syrup
  • ¼ oz. simple syrup
  • Glass type: Collins
  1. Put all of the ingredients into your shaker of choice with ice.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Pour into your Collins glass.
  4. Enjoy.
  5. Bonus points if you replace the Collins glass with a tiki mug.

original mai tai