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 (who invented the original Mai Tai recipe in 1944) would be the first to tell you that’s not what a classic Mai Tai cocktail is meant to be. 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.’
Mai Tai recipe steps
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 flavor. It’s lovely and complex — just the way we like it. Serve these at your next summer pool party and lap up the rounds of applause!
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 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.
In the 1970s, the addition of a dark rum float became a popular choice for many Mai Tai lovers. So, if you want to add a bold flavor to the mix, choose a quality dark rum that is smokey and sweet.
We also have to mention the use of orange liqueur. While the original version uses an orange curacao, we prefer Grand Marnier. We love this liqueur for its rich cognac and bitter orange flavors. You can also check out other Grand Marnier cocktails for more inspiration.
How to make a pitcher of Mai Tai?
If you want to make a Mai Tai pitcher for your pool party, that’s an excellent idea. Combine 12 oz Grand Marnier, 16 oz Appleton Estate, 4 oz orgeat syrup, and 4 oz fresh lime juice in a pitcher. Pop it on a tray along with ice-filled and garnished glasses and let your friends help themselves.
When to serve the Mai Tai cocktail?
Mai Tai’s are best served during summertime and is the perfect choice for: