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Easy Mai Tai Recipe: #1 Fresh Drink For Summer

July 10, 2022
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Have you ever ordered a Mai Tai cocktail at a fun Mai Tai bar? If the answer is yes, I bet the flavor of it is still lingering in your mouth!

Well, the good news is you don't have to leave your home to drink another glass of Mai Tai cocktail because today we'll be giving you the easiest Mai Tai recipe. You will not only learn Thai in this post, but you'll be able to make a delicious Mai Tai drink right in the comfort of your own home.

 

What Is Mai Tai?

A glass of Mai Tai garnished with ice cubes, mint, and cherry.
Mai Tai

Alright, first of all, let's clear something up! Do not ever mistake Mai Tai for Muay Thai! Their pronunciation might sound similar, but they are two completely different things. Mai Tai is a cocktail drink whereas Muay Thai is a traditional boxing sport in Thailand.

To get started, the Mai Tai is a cocktail drink that was invented in 1944 at Trader Vic’s restaurant in Oakland, California and it became especially popular during the 1950s, especially at tiki restaurants.

Where Does The Name ''Mai Tai'' Come From?

Legends say that Victor J. Bergeron, who was also known as Trader Vic, presented his new cocktail to his Tahitian friends, and they liked it so much that one of them reacted by saying "Maita’i roa a’e" which means "Out of this world!'' or ''The best!" After this incident, Trader Vic named his new cocktail "Mai Tai" because it is "the best".

The Origin Of The Mai Tai Cocktail

The Mai Tai is a rum cocktail that was first invented by Victor J. Bergeron. After the Great Depression, Americans’ attraction to Polynesian culture fueled the spread of the tiki trend, as well as the proliferation of Bergeron’s Trader Vic’s chain of Polynesian-themed restaurants.

A few years after the cocktail’s invention, it become so popular that the world literally ran out of the 17-year-old rum used in the recipe, so Bergeron switched to a 15-year-old Wray and Nephew. But, over time supplies of rum started to decrease again. So, Bergeron had to get creative, and that's when he created a blend of Jamaican rum and aged molasses-based Martinique rum to ensure the longevity of his popular recipe.

A glass of Hawaiian Mai Tai garnished with pineapple.
Hawaiian Mai Tai

Then, in 1953, Bergeron made its first trip to Hawaii where he was hired to oversee the cocktail menus for the bars at Royal Hawaiian Hotels. Pineapple and orange juices didn't seep into the Mai Tai recipe until 1954 when Bergeron used these juices to sweeten his Mai Tai recipe to make it more tourist-friendly.

 

Mai Tai Ingredients

In the original Mai Tai recipe, there is no pineapple or orange juice, only lime juice. According to the International Bartender Association, here are the ingredients to make a classic Mai Tai:

  • Aged rum
  • Orange liqueur
  • Lime juice
  • Orgeat syrup
  • Dark rum

Aged Rum

Aged rum is a kind of rum that is also known as golden rum or añejo rum. Aging gives it a complex flavor, much like Cognac, and undertones of vanilla, coconut, almond, or caramel flavors.

Orange Liqueur

A glass of orange liqueur.
Orange liqueur

The original Mai Tai recipe uses orange curaçao. However, if you can't find that, you can always substitute with Grand Marnier, the highest-end orange liqueur to bring a sophisticated flavor, or Cointreau, but the flavor will be a little less intense.

Lime Juice

Freshly squeezed lime juice is one of the key ingredients in a Mai Tai. It is the fresh lime juice that gives the drink its refreshing flavor. You can also use it as a garnish to decorate your serving glass.

Orgeat syrup

A bottle of orgeat syrup decorated with almonds.
Orgeat syrup

Orgeat syrup is a non-alcoholic almond syrup used for sweetening cocktails. It has a distinctive nutty flavor with a hint of citrus.

Unfortunately, there is no alternative for orgeat syrup. A Mai Tai without orgeat syrup is just not acceptable. Otherwise, it would just be a tasty drink, but not a real Mai Tai cocktail.

Dark Rum

Dark rum is also known as black rum and takes the name due to its dark color. Dark rum has a rich flavor that’s smoky and sweet at the same time.

 

How To Make A Mai Tai Drink

Put all the ingredients together, except for the dark rum, in a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake vigorously. If you don't have a cocktail shaker, you can use an empty jar as a shaker.

Pour the dark rum slowly on top of the drink, but make sure that it is placed on in a single layer.

Slowly pour into a glass and garnish. The traditional garnish is fresh mint and lime slices. Many Mai Tai drinks also include pineapple and cherries as a garnish.

 

How To Serve A Mai Tai Cocktail

Crushed ice is the key. Crushing cold and hard ice cubes just before servicing is what will create that infamous chilling taste of the drink.

You can garnish Mai Tai with mint sprigs, lime slices, and a maraschino cherry. Serve in a wide mouth double rocks and feel that frosty glass in your hands.

 

How To Order Drinks In A Thai Bar?

ThaiPronunciationMeaning
ขอ...ครับkɔ̌ɔ ... krápMay I have ... please?
ขอเบียร์หนึ่ง/สองแก้วครับkor beer nueng/song keaw krap / A beer/two beers, please.
ขอไวน์แดง/ขาวหนึ่งแก้วครับkor wine daeng/kao nueng keaw krap / A glass of red/white wine, please.
ไชโย!Chai yoo!Cheers!
ขออีกแก้วkor eek keawOne more, please.
ขอเพิ่มอีกkor peum eekAnother round, please.
น้ำมะนาวnám-má-naaoLime juice
ไม่หวานmâi wǎanNot sweet, please
ว็อดก้าvód-kâVodka
เหล้าlâoThai whisky
รัมramRum
น้ำเปล่าnáam plaoWater
น้ำแข็งnáam khăengIce water
น้ำอัดลมnáam at lomClub soda
โทนิคtonicTonic water
น้ำส้มnáam sômOrange juice
โค้กcokeCoke
Thai vocabulary

Don't you think the Mai Tai drink is a great drink to impress your guests at a party? Well, if you want to impress your guests, even more, how about learning some Thai?

 

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