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Jan 9, 2009 09:59 PM

mai tai help! urgent!

it's my dear friend's birthday next week and we're throwing a party in honor of her quarter century of living. she happens to adore mai tais and will not drink anything else when we go out. i'd love to have them at the party. but after looking at different recipes, it would appear that there many ways to make a mai tai, and i'm not sure which way to do it. can anyone recommend a tried and true recipe? not only that, but fairly simple, as funds to purchase all the ingredients are not limitless.... thanks in advance for any advice! chowhounds never let me down!

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  1. The original Mai Tai recipe is simple and delicious:

    2 oz aged rum (Appleton Extra recommended -- V/X if you're in money saving mode)
    3/4 oz fresh lime juice
    3/4 oz orgeat syrup (a.k.a. orzata -- make sure to get a brand with real almond extract and not artificial flavor; I've been using the Ferrara brand, which you can find in Italian markets)
    3/4 oz curacao (Marie Brizard or Bols are good choices; go for the clear varieties)

    Combine all ingredients, shake with a bit of ice, and strain into a glass with crushed ice. Garnish with half a lime hull, maybe a cherry or two, some pineapple if you feel like it... A parasol, perhaps? Make it festive :-) Drink through a straw. Enjoy!

    1. Here's how I learned it at work:

      Juice of one large lime (about 3/4 ounce)
      1 ounce each Appleton Estate V/X (gold Jamaican) and Saint James or Clement (dark Martinique) rums, or 2 ounces Appleton Estate Extra. Use 2 ounces Appleton Estate 21 if you're feeling extravagant; it's as close as you can get to J. Wray & Nephew's 17 year that was originally used.
      1/2 ounce orgeat syrup
      1/2 ounce orange Curaçao
      1/4 ounce simple syrup (1 pound sugar, 1 cup water, heated until completely cleared. Keeps for ages in the fridge)

      Shake like hell with plenty of crushed ice, and pour without straining into a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a spent lime half, a sprig of mint, and speared maraschino cherry and pineapple tidbit. The paper umbrellas came later in Hawai'i to shade people's drinks on the beach to keep the ice from melting quite as fast.

      Incidentally, I work at Trader Vic's. Vic invented the Mai Tai back in 1944. You aren't going to find a Mai Tai more authentic than this.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester


        You seem to have modified your recipe since last time you posted it (amount of curacao):

        It was actually your recipe I was using for the basis of the one I posted; I'd forgotten that I eliminated the simple syrup and added a bit more orgeat instead. Although I do see the comment on your other post about scaling back the orgeat, and I'll give that a try... I'm somewhat addicted to the stuff, however!

        I've modified this recipe further for my own personal taste, to create a slightly tarter version of the drink that still has lots of orgeat flavor -- quite different from the original:

        1 oz Appleton Extra
        1 oz Mount Gay Extra Old
        1/4 oz Sea Wynde, for flavor (this is a very peppery rum, so I recommend stopping there
        )3/4 oz lime jjuice
        2/3 oz orgeat
        1/4 oz Clement Creole Shrubb
        1/2 oz Pyrat XO (which tastes almost like it's orange flavored, but lacks most of the sweetness of an orange liqueur)

        1. re: davis_sq_pro

          It's been a while since I made them... I switched from bartender to maître d' at work a couple of months ago. I'm losing my touch!

      2. If I were you I would first ask the bartender @ a bar where she has ordered and enjoyed a mai tai for their recipe. Just because she only drinks mai tais out and it's a significant bday. From this board it sometimes seems that the majority of bars don't serve authentic drinks, so maybe it's not an authentic mai tai that she loves.

        3 Replies
        1. re: viperlush

          If it's not an authentic Mai Tai, it's not a Mai Tai. Mai Tais do not have orange juice or pineapple juice, and they definitely don't have grenadine. I'm not saying those other concoctions are better or worse than an authentic Mai Tai, I'm saying that if you're going to change the drink, call it something else.

          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

            Exactly, I totally agree with you. Instead of Mai Tai's let's say the friend drinks only martinis. Chowhounders are going to assume gin (authentic) but most bars assume vodka. I'm just pointing out that what the friend likes to drink might not actually be an authentic Mai Tai but something else that includes orange or pineapple juice or grenadine. And before getting an authentic recipe it might be better to first ask the bar so that the friend isn't disappointed (assuming this is the only drink she likes and that her bday is special to her).

            1. re: viperlush

              true viper, ask where she drinks them and ask for their recipe, may not be a mai tai at all from the purest sense......

        2. If you want to go full-bore Trader Vic's Mai Tai, you should own an ice shaver. The recipe I have long used:

          2 oz Appleton's Jamaican Rum (pref 12 yr or older)
          1/2 oz Curacao
          1/2 oz orgeat syrup
          1/4 oz simple syrup
          Juice of 1 fresh lime

          Pour the ingredients over shaved ice in a double old-fashioned glass, shake well, add one spent lime shell and garnish with spring of fresh mint.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Cheater shortcut: If you have a Sonic in your area, go buy a couple bags of their ice before the party. It's the same kind of ice we use to make the drinks at Vic's.