It’s Friday … Have a Drink: Mai Tai

It’s Friday … Have a Drink: Mai Tai
Our weekly recommendation.

Before we talk about this cocktail, let’s talk about orgeat. I’ve used it in this column before, specifically in the Alligator cocktail, but this application is perhaps the best-known in the cocktail world. Orgeat (pronounced or-zhah or or-zhaht if you want to offend the French) is an almond-based syrup most often associated with the Caribbean.

The Mai Tai, a quintessential Tiki Drink, is a great use of orgeat. It’s tangy and delicious, with lots of flavor from the mix of rum and some optional bitters. Supposedly, it was invented by the famous Tiki bartender and restaurateur Trader Vic and served to a couple of Tahitian friends. Their excited exclamation about the drink’s taste – “Maita'i roa ae!” (“Out of this world! The best!”) – formed the basis of the cocktail’s name.

You can make a Mai Tai with amaretto in a pinch, but orgeat’s not expensive, easily found online, and brings a bunch of subtle flavors that really give the drink a different taste. Combined with fresh lime juice, curacao, and some lively rums, it’s just delicious.

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice and shake thoroughly. Stain into a chilled, ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

This article is a modified and enhanced version of a post that ran on my nightly cocktail blog, DrinkShouts. Liquors in parentheses are what I used when I made this recipe, and are included as suggestions.

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Christopher Buecheler is a novelist, a web developer, an award-winning amateur mixologist, a brewer, a guitarist, a drummer, and an NBA enthusiast. He lives a semi-nomadic life with his wife and two cats, currently residing in Providence, RI. You can learn more at his website,