Mai Tai Recipe

The Cocktail Society's Mai Tai recipe. Learn how to make an Mai Tai Cocktail with our expert mixologists.
Trader Vic Mai Tai Recipe







Mai Tai Recipe Ingredients

30 ml White Rum
30 ml Dark Rum
15 ml Orange Curacao
15 ml Orgeat Almound Syrup
30 ml Fresh Lime Juice
7.5 ml Sugar Syrup

How to make a Mai Tai Cocktail

Add all ingredients except the dark rum into a boston shaker with crushed ice.

Shake well for around 30 seconds, until the ingredients are well mixed.

Pour the mix and ice into a rocks glass.

Add a little more ice to make a crown and then float the dark rum over the top of the drink.

Garnish: Lime wheel and mint sprig


Tell Us About the Mai Tai Recipe

Trader Vic's London, modelled on the original bar where the Mai Tai recipe originated
Trader Vic’s London, modelled on the original bar where the Mai Tai recipe originated

The Mai Tai was created in the 1940s by the legendary Victor J. Bergeron, also known as Trader Vic.

An icon of the tiki cocktail scene Bergeron also created other tiki classics The Fogcutter, and The Scorpion Bowl.

Bergeron was known for his Trader Vic’s bars, rum based creations, and rivalry with another tiki titan, Don the Beachcomber.

In fact, there was a bit of a fracas between the pair, with both claiming to have invented the Mai Tai recipe.

Trader Vic claimed to have made the drink for some visiting Tahitian friends. On sipping the cocktail, one of the guests was said to have shouted “Maita’i roa ae!” meaning “excellent” or “the best”.

It was from this Tahitian that the name Mai Tai was derived.

The Mai Tai recipe was so popular that it allegedly depleted rum supplies around the world.

The drink appeared in the Elvis Presley film Blue Hawaii and was a favourite of United States President Richard Nixon.


The Mai Tai Recipe’s Lost Ingredient

Over the decades, as more Trader Vic bars opened, bartenders experimented with adding other ingredients such as orange juice.

Due to this, ordering a Mai Tai can be a bit of a lottery; you’ll never be sure quite which version you’re getting.

In fact, it’s impossible to fully recreate the original Mai Tai recipe.

It was made in part to celebrate Wray and Nephew’s 17 year old rum. Sadly this drink is no longer in circulation.

Instead, drinks experts suggest using a mix of Agricultural Rum and Jamaican Rum.

Agricultural rum refers to rums which are made purely from refining pure sugar cane, rather than using industrial ingredients such as molasses (also known as black treacle).

For the home bartender, a mix of white and dark rum is a fine substitute. However, we’d recommend choosing mid range to premium rum brand for the best flavour.


Expert Tip

Ensure to have fresh mint as the garnish.

Some recipes will add pineapple juice, but to be closest to how the drink was originally meant to taste, we skip this. It tends to over sweeten the drink.

Fresh mint, as well as a balance of good quality rums, will create well balanced and refreshing drink, with a kick.

Maita’i roa ae!


Trader Vic’s London

Trader Vic’s London opened in 1963, and since then has been a mainstay of the capital’s bar scene.

Boasting a wide array of events, like salsa dancing or Hawaiian Hula and ‘Ori Tahiti dance performances at the weekend, it’s well worth a try.

If you’re peckish, you can treat yourself to a “cheeky tiki” brunch, with a Mai Tai to go alongside.

Read our full list of the best bars in London.


What to Try Next

Once you’ve mastered the Mai Tai Recipe we’d recommend sampling other tiki classics such as The Hurricane and The Zombie.

Don’t forget The Fogcutter and The Scorpion Bowl also created by Trader Vic.

If you’re searching for something with a little more fruit, the Rum Runner is a delicious mix of rum (what else?!), pineapple, Chambord, and Grenadine.

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