Mai Tai Cocktail Recipe

One of the best known tiki drinks is the mai tai, a drink said to have been created by Victor J. Bergeron, also known as Trader Vic (via The New York Times). According to Tradukka, the name may come from the Tahitian word, maita'i, which means "good." However, if you translate the word, mai tai, it means "from the sea" (punctuation is weird). Well, it really doesn't matter what the drink is called, the mai tai remains, as recipe developer Catherine Brookes describes it, a "vibrant drink [that] is the perfect summer cocktail." She also notes that it has "a good alcoholic kick, and [is] super easy to mix up."

One reason the mai tai may be popular with home bartenders is that, unlike many other tiki drinks, it really isn't all that complicated to make, and only requires one specialty ingredient — the almond-flavored syrup called orgeat. It's not too difficult to make your own orgeat, in fact, as long as you start off with pre-made almond milk, but Brookes says she uses the store-bought kind. If you can't find orgeat at the grocery store, you can always try checking a well-stocked liquor store, as well.

Assemble the ingredients for this mai tai recipe

Apart from the orgeat, you'll need some booze for this drink, of course. The mai tai is a rum-based drink, and this version calls for both light and dark rum, as well as triple sec. You'll also need both orange and lemon juice to add a citrusy note. Plus, you can optionally garnish with mint springs, or lime wedges for a tropical flair. 

Fill a cocktail shaker with the ingredients

The purpose of a cocktail shaker is to enclose a mixture of liquid and ice for shaking without spilling. Sure, if you happen to have a purpose-built cocktail shaker, you can use it, but if not, a travel mug, thermos, or a jar with a lid will work just fine. Whatever vessel you will be using, add some ice cubes to the shaker. Pour all of the ingredients over the ice, then seal up the shaker.

Shake the drink until it's chilled

Shake the drink, until it starts to feel chilled from the outside of the container. If you're using something that does not conduct heat well, like a thermos, then you obviously won't be able to feel whether it's cold or not. In that case, you can shake for 15 seconds to make the drink nice and cold.

Strain, and garnish the drink

Strain the drink into 2 glasses filled with ice. If you have special mai tai glasses, this is the perfect time to pull them out. If not, pretty much any glass you want to use will work, with Brookes suggesting a "glass tumbler, high ball glass, or coupe cocktail glass ... depending on your preference."

Brookes also notes that "This cocktail could easily be blended with ice to make a frozen version." You might also want to garnish your mai tais with a traditional combination of fresh mint sprigs and lime slices.

Mai Tai Cocktail Recipe
5 from 28 ratings
Feel like you are sitting on a tropical beach anywhere with this easy mai tai cocktail recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
mai tais in 2 glasses
Total time: 5 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • ⅓ cup white rum
  • 3 tablespoons triple sec
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons orgeat syrup
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
Optional Ingredients
  • Fresh mint sprigs
  • Lime wedges
  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour the ingredients into the shaker.
  2. Shake the drink until it feels cold, about 15 seconds.
  3. Strain the drink into 2 glasses filled with ice. Garnish the mai tais with fresh mint leaves and lime wedges, if desired.
Calories per Serving 293
Total Fat 0.1 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 32.2 g
Dietary Fiber 0.1 g
Total Sugars 24.6 g
Sodium 11.2 mg
Protein 0.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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