Ready for a true Mai Tai? (Recipe)


“¡Maita’i roa ae!” is said to have been the phrase from one the guests on tasting the new drink created for that Californian restaurant. To wit, maita’i means ‘good’, with the other two words adding superlativity. The Mai Tai is such a famous and requested drink that hundreds of terrible recipes can be found around the world, but especially in Hawaiian restaurants and bars competing to make the worst. Here is our favorite recipe among all those recipes that are the closest to the original.

1. The Recipe: our recipe is simple and traditional though we have included a small change.

2 oz rum Pyrat XO Reserve
1 oz lime juice
½ oz Grand Marnier
½ oz orgeat
¼ oz rock candy syrup
Shake with ice and serve in a double old-fashioned glass with shaved ice. Garnish with lime and a mint sprig.

2. The Drink: the Mai Tai was created by Victor Bergeron, better known as Trader Vic, owner of the Polynesian-themed restaurant chain named after him. It was in California headquarters where Trader Vic, according to his own account, took some aged Jamaican rum, a lime, some Dutch orange cuaraçao, rock candy syrup, and a dollop of Frech orgeat, added shaved ice, and shook until everything was married. He then used the used lime shells and a sprig of mint as garnish. Don The Beachcomber also claims to have come up with the Mai Tai, but there is no report of his as convincing as Bergerons. As for the use of Grand Marnier in our recipe, we feel it goes perfectly with the notes of orange in rum Pyrat XO Reserve.

3. The Keys: sometimes I have read famous international bartenders advising not to try some recipes if all the essentials ingredients are not available. In this case, one such essential ingredient is orgeat. Such an essential ingredient as pine nuts in an authentic pesto alla genovese. It is okay to be taught how to make pesto using pecans, but they must tell you the authentic pesto needs pine nuts. Similarly, when the classic bartending schools teach how to make a Mai Tai with amaretto, they must inform their students that the authentic recipe calls for orgeat.

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But is orgeat or sirop d’orgeat? It is a syrup made with barley and almonds in the old days, but it has been a long time since it started being with almond milk and orange blossom water. There are hundreds of simple and complex recipes to make orgeat on the Internet. The orgeat used in this recipe is produced by Fee Brothers. It is not one of the best you can get, bit it does respect the necessary profile: a nice aroma of raw almonds and a gentle almondy flavor.

And another key element is the syrup known as rock candy syrup. It is quite easy to make. All you need is to dissolve four parts white sugar in one part water. How to achieve this? Stirring and stirring while adding the sugar little by little, all the while keeping the stove burner on. The constant heat is what gives the syrup the caramely color and flavor. You could also use simple or double syrup, but the taste will not be the same.

Make this drink at home when you have everything needed. And feel free to share your own recipes.

_José Castro is a certified barista keen on reading, writing, and self-learning. In addition to being a father of one and husband of one, he is a columnist with Catering & Gastronomía magazine and a contributing writer to Cocktail magazine. Translator, photography aficionado, and former singer of a Beatles tribute band, he runs his own blog on beer, cocktails, coffee, and their food pairings at_ “_TomandoAltura.com_”: _under the pen name El Gourmetógrafo_. _Follow him on_ “_Facebook_”: _and_ “_Instagram_”: