I’ve wanted to share this epic Mai Tai recipe with you for months! I found the recipe in Aloha Kitchen, my friend Alana Kysar’s beautiful new cookbook (affiliate link). Alana is exuberant and thoughtful, hardworking and talented, and you would know all this if you took a look at her book. She sent me a copy and I learned so much about Hawaiian culture and cuisine.
Your Mai Tai recipe is in the drinks section at the end of the book. Ever since we had a tiki bar in town, I’ve wanted to learn how to make a real tiki drink.
Alana says, “The Mai Tai is often associated with Hawaii, even though it originated in California. Whether you think Don the Beachcomber or Trader Vic invented the drink, its strong bond with the islands remains. If you’ve ordered them in the past, you’ve likely had different experiences from great to awful and everything in between. “
This The Mai Tai recipe is well balanced, deliciously tropical, and quite juicy as a Mai Tai should be. Your average cocktail contains one and a half ounces of liquor, and this one contains three ounces of rum. You have been warned.
Aloha kitchen cookbook
Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai’i is a beautiful, coffee table worthy cookbook with vivid photos of Hawaii, Hawaiian recipes, and even history lessons. I’ve never had the chance to visit Hawaii, but fell in love with Alana’s description of Hawaiian culture before I even got to her collection of 85 recipes.
I had a couple of revelations while reading Alana’s book. First, I am now even more eager to experience Hawaii. Second, I realized that I knew very little about Hawaiian history and cultural influences. Alana provides a detailed overview in the introduction as well as symbols for the original ethnic group on each recipe.
After all, I didn’t know anything about Hawaiian food – it’s so beautiful and interesting and, unfortunately, for me as a vegetarian, more meaty than meatless. Pescetarians and everyone else, in this cookbook you will find many recipes that will work for you. If you love Hawaii or want to visit like me, you need this book!
Mai Tai ingredients
Alana consulted with two-time World Best Mai Tai bartender champion Justin Park on this recipe. She says, “This is his take on a classic Mai Tai where he foregoes the traditional floating rum to create a well-balanced cocktail that is great from start to finish.”
You will need:
- Dark molasses rum
- Light pure pipe rum
- Plain honey syrup (instructions in recipe notes, simply made with honey and water)
- Oregano syrup
- Fresh lime juice
- Angostura bitter
What is orgeat syrup?
I wasn’t sure until I bought something for this recipe. Orgeat syrup is made from an interesting mixture of almonds, sugar and rose water or orange blossom water. It’s sweet and tasty, and you may recognize the taste of other tiki drinks. It tastes like sunshine and summer and smells like sunscreen. Or seriously, like marzipan.
Alana recommended the Orgeat brand Small Hand Foods, which I bought on Amazon. You can make a lot of Mai Tais with one bottle of Orgeat. Plus, it’s well mixed with unflavored club soda.
Are you looking for more refreshing summer cocktails? Check out these:
- Classic Aperol Spritz
- Fresh bellinis
- Moscow mules
- Red sangria
- Cucumber and elderflower gimlet
Make sure to check out Aloha Kitchen and let us know in the comments how your Mai Tais are doing!
Mai Tai Cocktail
- Preparation time: 10 mins
- Total time: 10 mins
- Yield: 1 cocktail 1x
- Category: cocktail
- Method: Shocked
- Kitchen: Hawaiian
Learn how to make classic Mai Tai cocktails with this simple recipe from the Aloha Kitchen cookbook. They are strong and tasty just like Mai Tais should be! Recipe as written makes 1 cocktail; You can make 2 at once in one large shaker.
- 2 ounces dark molasses rum (like El Dorado 8-Year Demerara Rum)
- 1 ounce light pure sugar cane rum (like Batiste Rhum Ecoiste)
- ½ ounce Honey simple syrup *
- ½ ounce Orgeat Syrup (I used Small Hand Foods as per Alana’s recommendation)
- ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
- Spritz ** or a shot of Angostura Bitter
- Lime wheel for garnish
- Fill a double old-fashioned glass with ice and set it aside to cool. Combine both types of rum, the honey syrup, the organic syrup and the lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
- Shake. Strain the cocktail into the glass filled with ice. Sprinkle the top of the drink evenly with bitterness and garnish with a wheel of lime before serving.
Recipe courtesy of Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawaii by Alana Kysar.
* Honey simple syrup: Simply combine equal parts honey and water in a small saucepan and heat it over low heat until you can stir the honey into the water thoroughly (or briefly heat them together in the microwave). It is necessary to make simple syrup because pure honey does not mix well with cold drinks.
** Bitter note: The recipe suggests using a small spray bottle or atomizer to spray the bitter substances onto the drink. It’s very nice that way, but if you don’t have the equipment, give the cocktail a quick shot before shaking it.
Garnish options: I made these drinks as written in the book and I loved them. I often see Mai Tais garnished with sprigs of mint and / or pineapple slices.