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How can I make a Mai Tai into a "Holiday Mai Tai?"

I'm organizing a "holiday cocktail smackdown" at the office in which participants will teach the group their favorite holiday drink recipe.

I make a mean Mai Tai. It's quite simple, really: equal parts spiced rum and amaretto, top off with OJ, pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine. When my guests are lucky, I juice the pineapple and oranges on the spot.

I've googled "holiday mai tai" but nothing turns up. So I ask you, any thoughts on how I can make up such a recipe?

It can be really simple, like "grate some nutmeg on top" or "give it a dash of cinnamon."

But since yer all so awesome, I thought maybe someone would have a better idea or two.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. Grate some nutmeg on top, as you said, but I'd also try using a cranberry simple syrup in place of the grenadine—just boil some cranberries with sugar, water and a little orange zest and then strain. The cranberries naturally have a lot of pectin, so the consistency is more like grenadine than a regular (thin) simple syrup.

    1 Reply
    1. re: loratliff

      The cranberry simple syrup is a perfect solution for what I'm looking for. Thank you very much.

    2. look, i don't mean to offend, or be a pedant, but the drink you describe is kinda sorta...i don't know, um, off.

      you might look at these recipes and work from there:




      6 Replies
      1. re: linus

        Yes, to be honest, that drink isn't a mai tai.

        1. re: JMF

          While the actual ingredients might not be the original Mai Tai ingredients, it really is only the swap of pineapple for lime that is a major change. People are subbing out all sorts of things in cocktails these days and still calling them by their original names. So It is still kind of a Mai Tai (IMHO), maybe not the best Mai Tai but definitely in that category.

          Rum - in both
          Orange - orange juice versus orgeat and curacao
          Almond - amaretto versus orgeat
          Lime - swapped for pineapple
          sugar - amaretto is sweet enough versus simple syrup

          1. re: thimes

            "People are subbing out all sorts of things in cocktails these days and still calling them by their original names."


            Martini: 2 parts Kahlua, 1/2 part California Pinot Noir, 1 dash vanilla extract. Serve up with a cherry.

                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                  DSP -- That's a Manhattan. I'm surprised at you!

              1. re: musclesmarinara

                Sprite, Roses lime juice and sour mix, yuck that's a good way to ruin some decent bourbon, and it ain't a Julep by any stretch.

                Nice cleavage though.

                  1. re: musclesmarinara

                    Yeah, he's pretty sure about the cleavage.

                    1. re: EvergreenDan

                      Oh yeah I'm positive about the cleavage, I have quite a bit of experience in that regard and I can state with some authority that there was nice cleavage present.

                      With a little googling I noticed that this has already been covered by some of the folks in this thread:


                      Wondering if that video is turning into the Rickrolling of the cocktail world? ...

                1. re: musclesmarinara

                  That is one UGLY drink! Oh, but wait... You guys probably didn't even see it, right?

                    1. re: Caroline1

                      Yeah, the drink was really pretty ugly. I was hoping the vegetable matter would be strained out. But then, that's why they used that bartender, and why she was dressed that way.

                  1. I wouldn't use nutmeg to top a Mai Tai! (blech!) BUT..... You can add a sprig of fresh spruce or pine as a garnish. If you want to go over the top, get some of those tiny shiny red tree ornaments (about 3/4 inch in diameter) and attach it to the sprig of "Christmas tree."

                    Neither spruce nor pine are toxic, and you can even infuse them into vodka, gin, or other hard liquor for the holidays, but I don't think I'd do that for a Mai Tai. Maybe a Vodka & Tonic, with the vodka infused with spruce, which is a genuine Christmas tree flavor and aroma, and then the long sprig with ornament garnish as a swizzle stick? Or maybe even a Spruce Martini? But keep in mind I tend to be sort of a purist. I get burned out really fast on what I call "garbage cocktails." But that's just me... '-)

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Caroline1

                      spruce, yes. I was thinking "why fuss with something already fussy?" just a festive garnish and call it a day. anybody asks what the secret is - dummy up and smile.

                      1. re: hill food

                        I think Heston Blumenthal would LOVE my "Spruced Up Vodka Martini"... Molecular gastronomy...!!!! '-)

                      2. re: Caroline1

                        Cool idea, the spruce or pine as garnish. I like it. Thanks.

                      3. Make your own spiced rum by infusing it with cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, whole cloves, and maybe some smashed whole nutmeg - and / or substitute half of the amaretto (hope you are using Luxardo to at least approximate orgeat) for pimentro dram or Becherovka liqueurs.

                        I fully agree this is by no means a traditional Mai Tai, by the way, but if you and your guests enjoy this Tiki-inspired creation, that's all that matters! Have fun with it!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: rlh

                          Totally awesome idea – spicing my own rum. This is a winner. Thanks. And yeah, I know the recipe I've been using is not your traditional Mai Tai recipe, but it's a major crowd pleaser and has the almond-rum-fruit juice flavor going for it. It's also very quick.

                        2. My honest suggestion is that since you aren't aquainted with a real, traditional Mai Tai, that you serve the original recipe and blow away the group. No disrespect meant at all.

                          To give it a "Holiday" spin you can add a 1/4 to 1/2 oz. of St. Elizabeth's Allspice Dram, and add a sprig of Rosemary or Pine/Fir needles to the mint garnish.

                          Here is my adaptation of Trader Vic's 1944 version that I have on the menu in the bars I work with. I use the stated rums, El Dorado and Coruba, for balance, and the float of Lemon Hart for a bit more flavor and hitting power. I just roll that way.

                          Mai Tai- adaptation of Trader Vic, Trader Vic’s restaurant, Oakland, CA, 1944
                          1 oz. El Dorado dark rum
                          1 oz. Coruba Dark Jamaican rum
                          .5 oz. Bols orange curacao (or any decent or premium triple sec or curacao)
                          1 oz. lime juice
                          .75 oz. Orgeat syrup
                          .5 oz. dark simple syrup (I like Muscovado)
                          .5 oz. Lemon Hart 151 rum, float.

                          Shake with crushed ice, pour into double old fashioned glass. Float Lemon Hart rum on top and garnish with lots of mint sprigs and a short straw.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: JMF

                            I love Coruba, darned hard to find here in Boston.

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              Marty's big buys in Allston usually stocks it I think.

                            2. re: JMF

                              I can't wait to try this recipe. Is it too early in the day? Looks like I'll be heading over to BevMo during lunch. Thank you for sharing this. I can tell it's going to be great.

                            3. Hey everyone, thank you for all these thoughtful responses. I'm blown away by the great ideas.

                              A few individual responses below. Thanks.