I still remember the first “Mai Tai” I ever had.
It was 2006 and I was staying at the Embassy Suites in Maui with my friend Ryan and his family.
I’d turned 21 about 3 months before the trip, so the fact they had free happy hour from 4-6 was, well, exciting.
I remember thinking we were so smart for tipping the bartender 5 bucks after our first drink, and then getting nothing but strong pours for the rest of our stay.
During these happy hours, the only thing we drank was, you guessed it, Mai Tais.
However, these were not really Mai Tais.
This was pineapple juice with a whole bunch of dark rum in it.
Seemed pretty tasty at the time, but looking back? Ew.
Nowadays you can find some phenomenal Mai Tai cocktail recipes out there. Smugglers Cove is an obvious place to start, but recently I found myself making the version out of Jim
I decided to use his recipe as a starting point and come up with something that was a little more to my taste.
What is a Mai Tai?
At it’s core, a proper Mai Tai is a combination of rum, orgeat, lime, and orange liqueur.
No pineapple to be found anywhere.
But within that framework, you can end up with very different cocktails.
What kind of rum do you use? Light? Dark? Jamaican? Martinique? A combination?
What about orange liqueur? Gran Marnier? Cointreau? Triple Sec? Dry Curacao?
Even small tweaks can lend themselves to very different results.
The Slightly Pretentious Mai Tai Recipe
When I think of a Mai Tai, there are a couple things that always jump out in my mind:
- Dark rum float. When I picture the drink, it usually has a float of Myers Rum or something similar on top that gives it a distinct look.
- Served over crushed or pebble
ice– It’s always tricky to get the same quality of crushed iceat home as you’d find in a good cocktail bar.
When I’ve been making mine at home, I’ve been doing something different.
Because I always struggle with my crushed
I recently tried my recipe with crushed
It got watered down too quickly, and the dark rum changed the flavor in a way that I didn’t really want for this particular drink.
So what is the Slightly Pretentious Mai Tai?
Now, I’m a huge fan of the funky Martinique rhums, but the 50/50 split was a little too bold in this I thought. And for guests that aren’t used to that flavor, it was a bit overpowering.
So I switched it up to use just .5oz of Martinique rhum, and 1.5oz of a good white rum (I’ve been using Plantation).
The other change I made was Gran Marnier instead of dry curacao.
The result is a drink that’s super approachable for anyone, isn’t overly sweet, has a hint of funk with the rhum, but is overall just a nicely balanced take on a mai tai.
Feel free to serve it however you want, but throw in some nice mint to garnish and enjoy!
Mai Tai Recipe
- Cocktail Shaker
- Hawthorne Strainer
- Large Ice Cube Tray
- 1.5 oz White Rum We use Plantation
- .5 oz Martinique Rhum We use Favorita
- .75 oz Orgeat
- .75 oz Lime juice
- .5 oz Gran Mariner
- Combine all ingredients in cocktail shaker
- Shake for 20 seconds
- Double strain over large ice cube
Looking for Other Delicious Rum Cocktails?
Give one of these a shot: