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This Hawaiian Mai Tai Recipe is what you might have in mind when you think of that Tiki Cocktail you had the last time you visited Hawaii.
Created for the Royal Hawaiian Hotel menu in Waikiki and made with pineapple juice and orange juice, then topped with a classic dark rum float.
While this recipe is different from the Original Trader Vic version, this sweet, fruity tropical cocktail overtook the world in popularity.
Victor J. Bergeron (Trader Vic) is credited with creating the original cocktail. This cocktail was so popular that it actually depleted the world’s rum supply. He was then hired to create a signature cocktail for the Royal Hawaiian and the Moana Surfrider Hotels in Waikiki. It only made sense that he would settle on a Mai Tai Recipe.
However, the original version isn’t a sweet drink, and Bergeron found that tourists preferred a sweeter version made with pineapple juice. This version became what most people think of when they envision this tropical cocktail.
Don’t forget to pin this recipe to save for later!
What you’ll need
Ingredients for this cocktail vary vastly from bartender to bartender, but there are a few classic versions of this tropical drink: Trader Vic’s and Royal Hawaiian versions.
*This recipe is adapted from the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Resort Recipe.
The best rum to use in this recipe is a light rum such as Bacardi Silver or Cruzan Aged White Rum.
Dark or black rum is used as a float on top of this drink. The Royal Hawaiian’s recipe calls for Whalers rum. If you can’t find it, any good dark rum will work. Steer clear of spiced rum, though.
Orgeat (Or-zhat) is an almond syrup made with almond puree and orange blossom water. This nutty syrup is what gives the mai tai its signature flavor.
Grand Marnier is an orange liqueur. You can also use Orange Curaçao in this recipe.
Orange Juice & Pineapple Juice
Orange juice and pineapple juice are used in this version. Fresh squeezed is always recommended, but of course, use what you have on hand. I recommend Simply orange juice and Dole pineapple juice (the one in the can).
Cherry Vanilla Puree
The Royal Hawaiian uses a cherry vanilla puree made by blending maraschino cherries, vanilla, and cranberry juice. I’ve scaled the recipe down to make it easier to create this cocktail at home.
Where’s The Best Mai Tai in Hawaii?
I grew up on Oahu and have since spent a lot of time on the Islands. If you happen to be planning a trip to the Islands, you might want to check out a few of the best places to get this island cocktail in the Hawaiian Islands.
- Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai bar features a number of variations, including the Original Trader Vic’s version. Their signature recipe is a
- Moana Surfride Hotel features — the Manoa version and the Surfrider version.
- Halekulani Dining House has a signature cocktail recipe they’re happy to share for you at home.
- Monkey Pod Kitchen is located in Ko`Olina and is home to the Monkey Pod version, which features housemade macadamia nut orgeat and a lilikoi foam that gives this classic cocktail a little extra flair.
- Down The Hatch in Lahaina has great cocktails and great food. Their menu features the POG Foam Mai Tai and the DTH house version. Both are sweet versions of this classic Hawaiian cocktail.
- Monkey Pod Kitchen has two locations on Maui, one in Wailea in south Maui and one in Ka`anapali in west Maui. See the notes from the O`ahu list above.
- Merriman’s is always a sure bet for a fantastic dinner and cocktails. They are located in Kapalua in North West Maui. Merriman’s version is similar to the Original Trader Vic’s recipe, not too sweet and perfectly blended.
- Eating House is a restaurant by Roy Yamaguchi on Kauai, located on the South side of Kauai in the Shops at Kukui’ula. They have a great cocktail bar. Stop in for a their cocktails and stay for dinner.
- Ama is a ramen shop in a little shopping center, on the North side of the Island, in Hanalei. They serve a light and refreshing Mai Tai made the OG way. If you’re looking for great views, great food, and great cocktails, Ama is a great place to stop in.
Interesting fact, this is not a Hawaiian word at all. The story of how the Mai Tai got its name has Tahitian roots.
The story has it that when Victor Bergeron, shared this cocktail with a few of his friends visiting from Tahiti, they exclaimed, “Maita’i roa ae!” which meant the best in the world.
Orgeat syrup is an almond-flavored syrup made with orange blossom water.
This cocktail is normally served in a rocks glass with crushed ice or double old-fashioned glasses. But a Tiki Glass is never frowned upon when serving up these classic Hawaiian cocktails.
These are my favorite Tiki Cocktail Glasses.
Aged rum is best for this cocktail recipe. Aged rum has the best flavor. Because it’s aged it has a chance to develop character. You can use a white or silver rum or even a golden or añejo rum with a richer more brown sugar and caramel flavor.
More Hawaiian Cocktails
If you need more Hawaiian cocktail recipes here are a few of our favorites.
More Hawaiian Recipes
When you’re planning a backyard luau party, you’re going to need Hawaiian food to go with all of your Hawaiian cocktails. Start with a few appetizers like the Kimchi Dip or the. Pineapple Cheese Ball recipe. Pineapple Salsa is delicious when served with grilled chicken.
Hawaiian Mai Tai Cocktail (Royal Hawaiian Recipe)
- 1 ounce Barcardi Silver rum
- 1 teaspoon cherry vanilla puree
- ½ ounce orgeat syrup, or Amaretto di Sarreno
- ½ ounce Grand Marnier, or orange curaçao
- 1 ounce orange juice
- 2 ounces pineapple Juice
- ½ ounce Whaler's dark rum, floated on top
Cherry Vanilla Puree
- 3 tablespoons maraschino cherries
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons cranberry juice
- pineapple wedges
- maraschino cherries
- Combine all of the ingredients except the Whalers Dark Rum in an old-fashioned style glass over shaved ice. Carefully pour the dark rum on top (called a floater).
- Garnish with a pineapple wedge and a parasol with a skewered Maraschino cherry and fresh lime wedge.
To Make Cherry Vanilla Puree
- In a small food processor, add three tablespoons of maraschino cherries. You. can add some of the juice but tyr to get moslty cherries.
- Add the vanilla and the cranberry juice and the puree until blended.
Laura’s Tips + Notes
- White Rum – The best rum to use in this recipe is a light rum such as Bacardi Silver or Cruzan Aged White Rum.
- Black Rum – Dark or black rum is used as a float on top of this mai tai recipe. The Royal Hawaiian’s recipe calls for Whalers rum. If you can’t find it, any good dark rum will work. Steer clear of spiced rum, though.
- Orgeat – (Or-zhat) is an almond syrup made with almond puree and orange blossom water. This nutty syrup is what gives the mai tai its signature flavor.
- Grand Marnier – Grand Marnier is an orange liqueur. You can also use Orange Curaçao in this recipe.
- Orange Juice & Pineapple Juice – Orange juice and pineapple juice are used in this version of the mai tai. Fresh squeezed is always recommended, but of course, use what you have on hand. I recommend Simply orange juice and Dole pineapple juice (the one in the can).
- Cherry Vanilla Puree – The Royal Hawaiian uses a cherry vanilla puree made by blending maraschino cherries, vanilla, and cranberry juice. I’ve scaled the recipe down to make it more simple for creating this cocktail at home.
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