Mai Tai Cocktail Recipe

The Mai Tai, a cocktail born in the 1940s, is said to have originated either from Trader Vic’s in Oakland, California, or from Don the Beachcomber in Hollywood. Despite its disputed origins, one thing is sure: it’s a timeless classic that has been satisfying palates for decades.

The Mai Tai is the epitome of a tropical cocktail, perfect for beach parties, summer barbecues, or any occasion where you’re looking to bring some island vibes. 

Fun fact: “Mai Tai” is derived from the Tahitian word “Maita’i,” which means “good” or “excellence.”

Mai Tai Cocktail Recipe

Mai Tai Cocktail Recipe

Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 3 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1 drink
Calories 250 kcal


  • Cocktail shaker
  • Measuring jigger
  • Bar Spoons
  • Glass (Double Old Fashioned)
  • Strainer


  • 30 ml Amber Rum Substitute: any dark rum
  • 30 ml El Dorado Demerara Rum Substitute: Martinique rum
  • 15 ml Cointreau Substitute: Triple Sec
  • 22.5 ml Fresh Lime Juice Substitute: Bottled Lime Juice
  • 7.5 ml Orgeat Syrup Substitute: Almond Syrup
  • 10 ml Sugar Syrup Substitute: Simple Syrup
  • Ice cubes
  • Crushed Ice
  • Sprig of fresh mint for garnish


  • Fill your cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
    Ice cubes
  • Pour 30ml of Amber Rum and 30ml of El Dorado Demerara Rum into the shaker.
    30 ml Amber Rum, 30 ml El Dorado Demerara Rum
  • Add 15ml of Cointreau to the mix.
    15 ml Cointreau
  • Include 22.5ml of fresh lime juice.
    22.5 ml Fresh Lime Juice
  • Measure and add 7.5ml of Orgeat Syrup and 10ml of Sugar Syrup.
    7.5 ml Orgeat Syrup, 10 ml Sugar Syrup
  • Close the shaker and shake the mixture vigorously.
  • Fill a double old-fashioned glass with crushed ice.
    Crushed Ice
  • Pour the shaken mixture over the crushed ice using a strainer.
  • Finally, garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
    Sprig of fresh mint for garnish



Pro Tips for Success:

  • Use fresh lime juice for a vibrant citrus kick.
  • Choosing quality rum can make a world of difference in the result.
  • Make sure to shake well to blend all the ingredients perfectly and to chill the mixture.

Calculate Nutrition:

  • Calories: ~250
  • Carbohydrates: 17g
  • Sugar: 15g
  • Alcohol: 25g
Keyword Mai Tai Cocktail Recipe

What does a Mai Tai cocktail taste like?

The Mai Tai cocktail is a symphony of flavors that balances the richness of rum with the tangy bite of citrus, all while incorporating the sweetness and subtle nuttiness of syrups. Here’s a breakdown of what you might expect when sipping a well-made Mai Tai:

Flavor Components:

  • Rum: The Mai Tai is a rum cocktail, so the spirit’s complexity and nuances shine through. The choice of rum can affect the flavor significantly, ranging from smooth and slightly sweet to spicier or more robust versions.
  • Citrus: The fresh lime juice adds a tartness that balances out the sweetness of the other ingredients. It brings a zesty freshness that makes the cocktail invigorating.
  • Orgeat & Sugar Syrup: These syrups bring in the sweetness that harmonizes with the tartness of the lime juice. Orgeat, an almond-flavored syrup, adds a layer of nuttiness and complexity.
  • Cointreau/Triple Sec: This adds an extra layer of citrusy sweetness, lending the cocktail a slight orange aroma and undertone.
  • Mint: If garnished traditionally with a sprig of mint, you’ll get a refreshing scent that complements the drink’s tropical character.

Overall Taste Profile:

When you take a sip, the first note to hit your palate is likely to be the citrus tang, followed by the sweet and nutty flavors from the syrups. As the drink swirls in your mouth, the rum comes to the forefront, offering its full-bodied richness. The finish is a balanced blend of sweet, sour, and a touch of alcoholic warmth, encouraging you to take another sip.

Is a Mai Tai or Margarita stronger?

Based on these traditional recipes, the alcohol content in 1 drink Mai Tai is higher than in the Margarita. Let’s compare them based on traditional recipes:

  • Mai Tai Alcohol Content: 26.2%, 6oz in volume, 1.57oz alcohol (Amber Rum + Dark Rum + Cointreau)
  • Margarita Alcohol Content: 22.5%, 5.33oz in volume, 1.2oz alcohol (Tequila + Cointreau)

However, there are several considerations:

  1. Type of Alcohol: The spirits used can have varying amounts of alcohol by volume (ABV). Some rums and tequilas have higher ABV than others, strengthening the drink.
  2. Variations: Both cocktails have numerous variations that can increase or decrease their strength. Some Mai Tai recipes, for instance, call for overproof rum, which would significantly increase the alcohol content. Margaritas sometimes come in “top-shelf” versions with high-quality, high-proof tequila and even a Grand Marnier float, making the drink stronger.
  3. Serving Size: Mai Tais are usually served in smaller, old-fashioned glasses, while Margaritas are often served in larger cocktail or margarita glasses, which may be rimmed with salt. The serving size can influence the perception of how strong a drink is.
  4. Dilution: Both cocktails are usually shaken with ice, which dilutes them slightly. The amount of dilution can also affect the final strength of the drink.