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This is the CLASSIC Mai Tai Recipe you’ll get in Hawaii! Can’t go to the beach? Make this easy recipe and transport yourself to the tropics. Learn what mai tai ingredients you need, how to make substitutions, and how to make a pitcher for a crowd!
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BEST Mai Tai Recipe
One of my favorite things to do on a tropical (or, really, any) vacation is to sit in a lounge chair by a resort pool (preferably with a view of the ocean) and order cocktails while reading a good book. Mai Tai Cocktails are one of my favorite ones to order (and they are for sure my husbands favorite!) with Piña Coladas being the second.
If you’re craving a bit of the beach, sun and tropical vacation vibes, then make yourself a Mai Tai at home! Close your eyes and pretend you’re at a swanky resort with a waterfall in the distance while you enjoy this tropical cocktail.
What’s in a Mai Tai Cocktail?
A Mai Tai is a rum based cocktail that’s associated with tiki-themed restaurants, Polynesian Culture, and Hawaii. The funny part it that the person who claims to have invented them created them for his restaurant in California.
A classic Mai Tai is a tart and strong cocktail, with a prominent rum flavor and a bit of orange and lime flavor on the backend. It’s not a particularly sweet cocktail, although you can change up the flavors a bit to your liking. It’s one of the best classic cocktail recipes!
There are SO many different versions of MaiTai out there and I’m going to share some of them with you today. I’ll explain not only what goes into this drink, but also how to vary my cocktail into your own Mai Tai Recipe, depending on your tastes or what alcohol you have on hand.
Mai Tai Ingredients
- Fresh Lime Juice
- Triple Sec (Cointreau or Orange Liqueur or Orange Curacao)
- Orgeat Syrup or Almond Liqueur/Amaretto (see substitutions below)
- Pineapple Juice – if you want to make it less strong.
How to make a Mai Tai?
- Add the white rum, spiced rum, lime juice, and amaretto to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake.
- Strain into short hurricane glass.
- Add the dark rum float on top.
- Garnish with pineapple and cherry.
How to make Mai Tai Punch
Want to make punch for a crowd? You can do that too! This is where you’re going to want some pineapple or orange juice to fill in the gap. Making punch out of just a classic mai tai recipe would be very expensive!
I love serving Mai Tai Punch at summer pool parties and I can’t wait to have a BBQ so I have an excuse to make it.
Mix all ingredients except dark rum in a pitcher. Add pineapple juice and/or club soda to taste to thin and make it serve more (about 2-3 cups total). When serving, add the dark rum float.
If you don’t have a well stocked liquor cabinet like I do, you can definitely make some substitutions
- Use double the white or gold and leave the other out, if you don’t have it.
- Substitute coconut rum for one or both to make a Coconut Mai Tai.
Orgeat is basically an almond flavored simple syrup. You can get it at the liquor store or at some grocery stores in the alcohol aisle. You can also make your own, but it’s kind of an involved process.
I substitute a bit of Amaretto (almond liqueur) for the orgeat called for in a tradtional Mai Tai recipe, but almond liqueur isn’t something everyone has. It also depends on the sweetness level you like. Here’s what to substitute:
- Use a different flavor simple syrup, like grenadine, orange or any other kind.
- Make almond or orange flavored simple syrup by boiling 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water until the sugar dissolves. Let it cool then add 1-2 drops of almond or orange extract.
- Skip the simple syrup all together and add orange or pineapple juice.
- Use Grand Mariner instead
To me, a mai tai tastes like Hawaii! It has all those tropical flavors you expect when you’re at the beach. I always substitute amaretto for the orgeat and it adds a nice little touch of sweetness. This cocktail recipe, as written, is really strong. If you want it less so, add pineapple juice.
Nope – people think so because of “tai” in the name, but it was actually invented by Victor J Bergeron, the founder of Trader Vic’s restaurant.
Lots of different kinds – this recipe uses gold, light and dark/spiced rum.
To make this recipe with pineapple juice, just add it to taste, or reduce the triple sec and add pineapple juice instead. Adding juice is a great way to water down this strong drink.
Mai Tai Recipe
For 1 cocktail:
- 1.5 ounces light rum
- 1.5 ounces gold rum
- 2 ounces triple sec
- 1 ounce lime juice
- ½ ounce Amaretto (almond liqueur) see note
- 1 ounce dark rum
For a pitcher:
- 1 cup light rum
- ½ cup gold rum
- ½ cup dark rum
- 1 cup triple sec
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 2-3 cups pineapple and/or orange juice and/or club soda or lemon lime soda
- ¼ cup Amaretto (almond liqueur) see note
For one cocktail:
- Mix light and gold rum, triple sec, lime juice, and almond liqueur in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain over ice. Add dark rum on top.
- Mix all ingredients in a large pitcher. Adjust strength/sweetness as needed by adding simple syrup or more juice. Serve over ice.
- Substitute orgeat or other simple syrup or grenadine (start with 1/2 ounce and add more as needed for desired sweetness)
- Substitute 1 ounce pineapple or orange juice for the amaretto
- Substitute more of one rum for another, if you don’t have all three.
- Coconut rum is a great sub also
- If you want a weaker cocktail (this is VERY strong) then add 1-2 ounces pineapple juice to taste.
- The drink, as written, isn’t very sweet, so if you like a sweeter drink, add some simple syrup or grenadine.
The Mai Tai is one of the most famous cocktails associated with Hawaii, summer and the beach! Make my classic Mai Tai Recipe at home so you can feel like you’re in the tropics.
Favorite Tropical Cocktails
Last Updated on April 27, 2023
This was so good. The only thing I would change is to double the juice – otherwise it’s a very potent drink!