The original Mai Tai recipe pays tribute to a friend

We’re taking a break from Beer of the Week today so I can share a recipe for a simple, delicious mai tai, made in the style of the original 1944 cocktail from Trader Vic.

The mai tai (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

I made this drink after a high school friend, who was a well-known tiki bartender in New Orleans, passed away unexpectedly. Luckily, I dropped in on him during a recent visit to the Big Easy, and we spent some time catching up while he mixed us several delicious cocktails, including a mai tai.

I made sure to use high-quality rum here, one dark Jamaican style (I used Doctor Bird) and one agricole (I used Rhum J.M.). I found both, and orgeat (almond syrup), at France 44, which was a long way to travel for some cocktail ingredients, but I had some thinking to do about a lovely friend who left us too soon on the way.

Mai Tai

  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce rhum agricole
  • 1 ounce dark Jamaican style rum
  • 1/2 ounce orange curaçao (Pierre Ferrand preferred)
  • 1/4 ounce rich simple syrup (2:1 sugar to water ratio), preferably made with demerara sugar
  • 1/2 ounce orgeat

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake for around 10 seconds and pour, unstrained, into a tumbler. You can garnish with a spent lime half, fresh mint or a fresh flower.

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