Mai Tai Recipe // Hawaiian Classic Cocktail

This classic Mai Tai is a Hawaiian favorite. This simple drink recipe comes with easy instructions for making a single cocktail or a pitcher – perfect for parties!

Since most of us aren’t going to the Hawaiian islands anytime soon, now is the perfect time to celebrate with a Mai Tai at home.

Want to take things to the next level? Pair your tropical cocktails with a Hawaiian dish like Macadamia Nut Hummus, Poke Bowls, Grilled Mango Chicken or Hawaiian Coleslaw

Rick and I love going to Hawaii. Actually we’re very lucky in the fact that Rick has to go there for business at least once a year. And I get to just veg out and chill. Which is good, because Rick doesn’t really go on tropical vacations to lay by the pool or on the beach. He’s more into adventure – hiking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, etc. 

But we do get into a little Hawaiian routine when we’re there. We normally wake up super early (easy to do with the time zone difference from the western united states), grab some Kona coffees, and head to the hot tub while we finish those. Then, every evening we head to the local bar for Happy Hour Mai Tais. 

Lately our Hawaiian routine just consists of a couple of our own Mai Tai cocktails on the back patio. It’s no tiki bar, but I’ll take it! 

Two Mai tai cocktails in glass garnished with pineapple wedge and cherries.

What is a Mai Tai Cocktail? 

  • It’s said that the actual mai tai was created in 1944 by the founder of Trader Vic’s, Victor Bergeron. Since then, it’s become very popular in tiki culture.
  • A Mai Tai is a rum based cocktail. The classic version with light and dark rums, almond syrup and A traditional Mai Tai is a rum based cocktail. The classic version has light and dark rums, almond syrup and fruit juice (pineapple and lime). They pack a serious punch due to all the alcohol in them. And they’re one of the best tiki drinks in my opinion.

What is the Best Rum for a Mai Tai?

The original Mai Tai recipe uses light and dark rum. You want to be sure to use a good-quality rum, since this cocktail is mostly rum based. However, this is also not the time to reach for your most expensive bottle of aged rum, since its flavor will become diluted. 

Here are some great rum options for making a real Mai Tai drink. They can be found in the liquor store for under $30:

  • Bacardi Silver
  • Cruzan Aged White Rum
  • Havana Club Anejo Blanco Puerto Rican Rum 

As for the dark rum, and mid-quality dark rum will do (since it’s just a float), but you do NOT want spiced rum for this recipe. 

Mai Tai Ingredients: 

  • Light Rum (also called silver rum or white rum) 
  • Dark Rum (not spiced)
  • Pineapple Juice
  • Orange Curaçao (or triple sec or any orange liqueur)
  • Orgeat (almond syrup or Disaronno) 
  • Lime Juice (fresh squeezed) 

You will also need:

Mai tai in glass garnished with pineapple wedge and cherries.

What is Orgeat? 

  • Orgeat syrup is made from blanched almonds and orange flower water. It has a delicious, creamy & nutty flavor that is essential to the maitai. However, if you are unable to find orgeat, or if you don’t want to purchase it specifically for this recipe, you can substitute Disaronno or almond syrup. 

How Do You Make a Mai Tai Cocktail From Scratch? 

  • Combine pineapple juice, light rum, orange curaçao, lime juice, and orgeat in a cocktail shaker. 
  • Shake with ice.  Add ice to the cocktail shaker, then cover and shake well, until chilled. 
  • Strain.  Strain the mixture into a glass filled with fresh ice. 
  • Top with dark rum. 
  • Garnish. Sprig of mint, lime wheel, pineapple spear, if desired.
  • Serve. Love at first sip.

How Do You Make a Pitcher of Mai Tais?  

  • Simply use the recipe card below and adjust the original recipe to “8 servings” by clicking on the box. Add all ingredients (including dark rum) to a pitcher and stir to combine. Add ice and serve. 
Mai tai in glass garnished with pineapple wedge and cherries.

Hawaiian Recipes: 

Tropical Cocktail Recipes: 

Classic Cocktail Recipes: 

Mai tai in glass garnished with pineapple wedge and cherries.

Mai Tai Recipe 

This Mai Tai recipe is a Hawaiian classic. And since most of us aren’t going to the beach anytime soon, now is the perfect time to celebrate with a Mai Tai at home. 
3.72 from 32 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces light rum
  • 3/4 ounce orange curaçao
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce orgeat
  • 1/2 ounce dark rum

To Garnish:

  • Pineapple wedge
  • Maraschino cherries

Instructions

  • Mix pineapple juice, light rum, orange curaçao, lime juice, and orgeat in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain over ice. Float dark rum on top.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!

Equipment

Highball Glasses
Cocktail Shaker
Straws

Nutrition

Calories: 262kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 12mg | Potassium: 55mg | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin C: 11mg | Iron: 1mg

11 thoughts on “Mai Tai Recipe // Hawaiian Classic Cocktail”

  1. I’ve been looking for glasses like in your recipe photo! Where did you get them— pls and thank you!

    Can’t wait to try this drink. We all need a little tropical happy right now.

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    Thank you for this delicious recipe! I made this recipe in a large batch for my daughter’s wedding that was scheduled for Hawaii, but got COVID cancelled (3 times), and turned into a small, beautiful backyard wedding. I mixed a day ahead, and the day of the celebration I poured into a large glass beverage dispenser and added lime slices, pineapple wedges and cherries. It was easy, elegant and tasty!

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    This was perfect!! Thank you for a great recipe.

    Our family used to get Mai Tai’s at a great local Chinese restaurant that has yet to reopen after COVID. We hope to see them again soon, but this was a fun way to keep the tradition going at home in the meantime.

    Reply
  4. 5 stars
    Your brainchild recipe moves to the top of my Mai-Tai rotation. Slightly more “adult” due to less sweetness than most of the ones I’ve had or prepared. I experimented by mixing all of the ingredients together, pouring into individual glasses, and freezing early in the day. WOW, Mai-Tai slush!

    Reply

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