Mai Tai

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A Mai Tai is a popular tropical cocktail flavored with pineapple, lime, and mint. It’s a cornerstone of tiki culture and is perfect on hot summer days or any day you wish you were by the beach.

Two Mai Tai cocktails in hurricane glasses.


 

Mai Tai comes from the word maitaʻi, which loosely means “good” or “excellent.” And when you’re by the pool or at a beach, is there any better drink to enjoy?

Have fun with your garnishes! Pineapple spears or wedges are common and maraschino cherries and sprigs of fresh mint. look pretty. Now’s a good time to bust out those tiny paper umbrellas too, if you have any!

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Mai Tai cocktails.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Orgeat syrup: An almond-flavored syrup.
  • Orange liqueur: Dry Orange Curaçao is the traditional choice in a Mai Tai, but you can substitute triple sec, Cointreau, or Grand Marnier.
  • Simple syrup: To make it yourself, combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved (do not boil). Remove from heat and cool before adding 1 tablespoon (or more to taste) to your cocktail shaker with the other ingredients. Store leftover simple syrup covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, add rum, lime juice, orgeat syrup, simple syrup, and orange liquor. Fill shaker with ice, cover and shake until well chilled and combined, about 30-45 seconds.
Mixing a Mai Tai cocktail.
  1. Fill a rocks glass or tiki cup halfway with crushed ice. Strain Mai Tai into glass. Top with additional ice. Garnish with mint leaves, lime zest, pineapple, and a maraschino cherry.
Mixing a Mai Tai cocktail.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes one delicious, tropical cocktail.
  • Glassware: If you drink a ton of Tiki-themed drinks, consider Tiki cocktail glasses that have mask faces on them. I love to use a simple hurricane glass so I can appreciate the Mai Tai for all its beauty.
  • Big batch: To make a batch of 8 cocktails, combine 16 ounces (2 cups) dark rum, 8 ounces (1 cup) lime juice, 6 ounces (¾ cup) orgeat syrup, 4 ounces (½ cup) orange liqueur, and 4 ounces (½ cup) simple syrup in a pitcher. Have ice, glassware, and garnishes on hand so guests can help themselves.
  • Tropical Party: Hoping to extend the Mai Tai vibes? I created a full Tropical Party menu featuring Coconut ShrimpHawaiian Macaroni Salad (an official component of “plate lunch” in Hawaii), Pineapple Salsa, and  Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. My original menu features the Blue Hawaiian cocktail, but Mai Tais and Piña Coladas would both fit the theme.
Two Mai Tai cocktails in hurricane glasses.

Recipe FAQs

How do you pronounce “orgeat”?

Say it like “or-ZHATT” where ZHATT falls between a “Z” and a “J” as if you were saying Jacques Cousteau.

What does a Mai Tai taste like?

It’s a fruity drink from the orange liqueur and fresh lime juice while the orgeat syrup adds more sweetness (with a hint of almond flavor).

More rum cocktails to try

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Two Mai Tai cocktails on a counter.

Mai Tai

A Mai Tai is a popular tropical cocktail and a cornerstone of tiki culture. Made with rum, orgeat syrup, and lime, it's fruity and refreshing.
Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
Servings 1 cocktail
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Calories 278
5 from 2 votes

Ingredients 

  • 2 ounces dark rum (¼ cup)
  • 1 ounce lime juice (2 tablespoons)
  • 3/4 ounce orgeat syrup (1 ½ tablespoons, see note 1)
  • 1/2 ounce orange liquor (1 tablespoon, see note 2)
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup (1 tablespoon, see note 3) optional
  • 1 sprig fresh mint leaves for garnish
  • 1 twist lime zest for garnish
  • 1 wedge pineapple for garnish
  • Maraschino cherries for garnish

Instructions 

  • In a cocktail shaker, add rum, lime juice, orgeat syrup, simple syrup, and orange liquor. Fill shaker with ice, cover and shake until well chilled and combined, about 30-45 seconds.
  • Fill a rocks glass or tiki cup halfway with crushed ice. Strain Mai Tai into glass. Top with additional ice. Garnish with mint leaves, lime zest, pineapple, and a maraschino cherry.

Notes

  1. Orgeat syrup: An almond-flavored syrup.
  2. Orange liqueur: Dry Orange Curaçao is the traditional choice in a Mai Tai, but you can substitute triple sec, Cointreau, or Grand Marnier.
  3. Simple syrup: To make it yourself, combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved (do not boil). Remove from heat and cool before adding 1 tablespoon (or more to taste) to your cocktail shaker with the other ingredients. Store leftover simple syrup covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.
  4. Yield: This recipe makes one delicious, tropical cocktail.
  5. Glassware: If you drink a ton of Tiki-themed drinks, consider Tiki cocktail glasses that have mask faces on them. I love to use a simple hurricane glass so I can appreciate the Mai Tai for all its beauty.
  6. Big batch: To make a batch of 8 cocktails, combine 16 ounces (2 cups) dark rum, 8 ounces (1 cup) lime juice, 6 ounces (¾ cup) orgeat syrup, 4 ounces (½ cup) orange liqueur, and 4 ounces (½ cup) simple syrup in a pitcher. Have ice, glassware, and garnishes on hand so guests can help themselves.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cocktailCalories: 278kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 17mgPotassium: 59mgFiber: 1gSugar: 25gVitamin A: 57IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 10mgIron: 1mg
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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