Mai Tai

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Mai Tai

Victor Bergeron – Trader Vic – created this drink back in the 40s, and is quoted in the 1947 edition of his Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide as saying, “Anyone who says that I didn’t create this drink is a dirty stinker.”

When I visited Trader Vic’s in Beverly Hills, I watched their skilled mixologists closely to try to learn the secrets of this drink (shaved ice is key here, kids) but I recently found the recipe online here (note that this link has since been taken down)

When made properly, the Mai Tai is a smooth, slightly sweet, and potent concoction – and well worthy of your sophisticated palate. It’s a rum sour, and one of the best rum sours ever made.

There are so many little tricks to making a great Mai Tai. Picking out great rum is one of the tricks: you can’t find the original rum used by Vic, so you’ve got to get a little loose and creative with it. Using crushed ice is another trick – cubes just don’t do the drink justice. Dropping in that little lime hull (see photo above) is another trick, as is picking out the perfect mint bouquet for garnish.

But the real trick to the Mai Tai is the glass. The Libbey 816 CD 15 Ounce Double Old Fashioned glass is the unsung hero of the Mai Tai. It shouldn’t be served tall, it shouldn’t be served in a ceramic Tiki mug, it should be served in this glass, decorated or undecorated, and this glass only. There are few other glasses than can contain this monster of a drink, so pick up a case of these if you want to get serious about your Mai Tai.

Mai Tai Print Me

  • 1½ oz/45 ml Appleton Sigtnature Blend (formerly Appleton V/X) rum
  • ½ oz/15 ml Smith and Cross rum
  • 1¼ oz/37.5 ml fresh lime juice
  • ½ oz/15 ml orange curaçao (I use Grand Marnier)
  • ½ oz/15 ml orgeat (almond syrup)
  • ¼ oz/7.5 ml 2:1 simple syrup
  1. Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Reserve one half lime hull for garnish.
  3. Shake ingredient with ice cubes until cold.
  4. Strain into a double old fashioned glass
  5. Fill with crushed ice.
  6. Drop in lime hull and garnish with mint bouquet.

Recipe printed courtesy of

11 Replies to “Mai Tai”

  • Dr. Coruba says:

    Agata, though it is related to Orange Curacao, Triple Sec is one of the weaker substitutes for what Orange Curacao imparts to a good Mai Tai. If you just can’t find it anywhere, the better substitutes are Cointreau or Grand Mariner – both are much more expensive than Orange Curacao, but at least you’ll be raising the bar on your Mai Tai quality not lowering it.

    Jeffrey, as always, is spot on about shaved/crushed ice for the Mai Tai. A proper shake with the right ice gives it just the right dilution and rapidly chills the drink so that the remaining ice melts very slowly.

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