Best Mai Tai Cocktail

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Cocktail Type


Great for

Garden Party



Refreshing boozy Mai Tai cocktail on the rocks with cherry and pineapple garnish

Of all the brilliant Tiki drinks out there, the classic Mai Tai cocktail is probably one of the most famous. The traditional Mai Tai recipe uses five ingredients: two types of rum, orange liqueur, lime juice, and simple syrup. This rum-based Tiki drink is on the IBA’s official list of cocktails—for a good reason. The best Mai Tai cocktail is ‘out of this world.’ Like literally. And who wouldn’t want a cocktail like that? 

What is a Mai Tai cocktail?

Many people confuse Mai Tai cocktails with tropical, overly-sweet pineapple and rum drinks. Unfortunately, over the years, the original version of the Mai Tai recipe got corrupted by bars and restaurants who made their own versions and tweaked the recipe with cheap bottled mixers and poor-quality rum.   

Victor J Bergeron (the inventor of the original Mai Tai recipe) would be the first to tell you that’s not what a classic Mai Tai cocktail is meant to be. He invented this drink back in 1944. After mixing together Jamaican rum, orgeat and orange liqueur, he served it to a couple of Tahitian friends. After tasting it, they exclaimed, “maita’i roa ae!” which is Tahitian for ‘out of this world.’   

The best Mai Tai recipe

The Mai Tai recipe is rum-forward with a subtle sweetness from the orange and tartness from the lime. The addition of orgeat syrup adds an interesting almond flavour. It’s lovely and complex—just the way we like it. Serve these at your next summer pool party. 



Fresh lime juice is essential for the best Mai Tai cocktail.


Keep your hands off the pineapple juice for this recipe. It’s got no place here!


If you can’t find Orgeat, use a drop of almond extract mixed with simple syrup instead.



1 Person

50 Ml

1.67 Oz

1.67 Parts

25 Ml

0.83 Oz

0.83 Parts

Fresh lime juice
7.5 Ml

0.25 Oz

0.25 Parts

7.5 Ml

0.25 Oz

0.25 Parts

Orgeat syrup
7.5 Ml

0.25 Oz

0.25 Parts

Sugar syrup
Fresh mint to garnish
Ice cubes and crushed ice



Pour the orange liqueur, rum, orgeat syrup and fresh lime into an ice-filled cocktail shaker 


Shake until frosty (around 30 seconds) 


Strain into a glass filled with ice


Top with crushed ice


Garnish with fresh mint



The best rum for Mai Tai cocktail

There are two golden rules for making the best Mai Tai cocktail. One, don’t use pineapple juice. Two, do not use cheap rum! This Tiki drink is all about showing off the taste of rum, so you’ve got to do it justice.   

For a Mai Tai recipe that is out of this world, we suggest Appleton Estate —one of the oldest and most famous handcrafted Jamaican rums. This was also the rum of choice for old Victor (although his version used a 17-year-old variety that’s no longer available), but the 8-year reserve will be just fine.  

We also have to mention the use of orange liqueur. While the original version uses an orange curaçao, we prefer Grand Marnier. We love this liqueur for its rich Cognac and bitter orange flavours. 

What is a Orgeat syrup?

Orgeat syrup gets its name from the French word ‘orge’ which translates to ‘barley’. In its classic form, this syrup is made from a combination of almonds and orange flower water. If you can’t find orgeat syrup, a good substitution will be almond syrup, almond extract or amaretto. That being said, for the best Mai Tai, stick to Orgeat syrup for its unique floral-citrus flavour. 

When to serve the Mai Tai cocktail?

Mai Tai’s are best served during summertime and is the perfect serve for: 

  • A garden party with all your mates 
  • A 70s-themed party with retro vibes 
  • A beach party  
  • After work cocktail hour while the sun sets 
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A Mai Tai cocktail is a very rum-forward drink, with hints of sweet orange liqueur and a subtle tartness from the lime juice.

The perfect Mai Tai recipe calls for 45 ml Grand Marnier, 60 ml Appleton Estate Rum and a 15 ml of each lime juice and orgeat syrup. Shaken up and strained over ice, it’s a great cocktail for a pool party.

You can easily scale this recipe into a crowd-pleaser by making a pitcher in advance. Combine all ingredients (except the ice) and chill in fridge before serving.

Over the years, the original version of the Mai Tai recipe got corrupted by bars and restaurants who made their own versions and tweaked the recipe with cheap bottled mixers and poor-quality rum.

Mai Tai cocktails are quite potent at 20% ABV.