Mai Tai is a rum-based daiquiri cocktail that also contains the dry orange liqueur Curaçao, orgeat syrup, and lime juice.

Mai Tai

What is a Mai Tai?

Mai Tai is a rum-based daiquiri cocktail that also contains the dry orange liqueur Curaçao, orgeat syrup, and lime juice. It is of American origin, though it is often associated with Tiki culture. The name of the cocktail is the Tahiti word for excellence. It is a refreshing drink with notes of tartness, citrus, and sweetness.

  • This cocktail has a signature orangish yellow color and is considered to be a summer or tropical cocktail.
  • It became popularized with the film Blue Hawaii starring Elvis Presley.

The top 10 most popular Tiki cocktails are:

  • Zombie
  • Navy Grog
  • Mai Tai
  • Singapore Sling
  • Painkiller
  • Saturn
  • Piña Colada
  • Jet Pilot
  • Suffering Bastard
  • Lapu Lapu

Origin of mai tai

This was invented by Victor J. Bergeron, more commonly known as Trader Vic, in 1944, to bring out the flavors of a 17-year-old J. Wray and Nephew Jamaican rum. He served it to some visiting Tahitian friends who exclaimed “Maita’i roa a’e!” in praise of the drink. Bergeron decided to name the cocktail Mai Tai based on this incident. It is believed that the drink’s popularity in the 1940s depleted the world’s rum supplies. Another story is that Donn Beach invented the Q.B. Cooler punch in 1933, on which this drink is based. Bergeron, however, has refuted this claim.


Nutritional profile for Mai Tai (1 drink):

Another micronutrient found in this drink is folate. Also, lime juice has a high concentration of vitamin C, which keeps the immune system healthy. In addition, other nutrients that limes contain include iron, calcium, vitamin B6, thiamine, and potassium. Lime juice also provides antibacterial, antioxidant, and phytochemical properties. Nonetheless, overconsumption of alcohol can result in a change in the brain’s functioning patterns, liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, heart problems, strokes, different types of cancers, as well as affect overall immunity. It is best to consume this cocktail responsibly and in moderation.

Commercial production

To prepare this classic cocktail, the ingredients required are dark rum, white rum, Curaçao liqueur, orgeat syrup, and lime juice. First, these ingredients are combined in a cocktail shaker with ice and shaken until chilled. Then, they are strained into the glass. This cocktail is usually served in an old-fashioned glass with an umbrella and a slice of fruit (lime, lemon, pineapple, or a cherry) as garnish. Also, it may be served in a special tiki glass. 

Mai tai recipes

This cocktail is a classic Tiki recipe with standard ingredients. However, there are a few variations to this cocktail as well. Here are a few recipes:

FDA regulations

Mai Tai is described by the TTB as any cocktail that contains rum and citrus juices, oils or natural citrus flavors. The TTB defines rum as spirit distilled from the fermented juice of sugarcane with less than 95% ABV. It must be bottled at no less than 40% ABV.  Additionally, Curaçao falls under the liqueur or cordial class and is defined as orange flavored liqueur or cordial.


Caroline Pardilla, You Deserve a Mai Tai — a Real One, That Is, Eater, 

National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Alcohol’s Effects on the Body,

Oikeh, Ehigbai I et al. “Phytochemical, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activities of different citrus juice concentrates.” Food science & nutrition vol. 4,1 103-9. 30 Jul. 2015, doi:10.1002/fsn3.268,