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Tiki Central Forums » » Tiki Drinks and Food » » making the mai-tai
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making the mai-tai
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 13, 2003
Posts: 1173
From: The Quiet EAST Village
Posted: 2003-01-24 5:36 pm   Permalink

Aloha people-

Any tips on making a Mai-tai? Trying to stick somewhat to the Trader Vic formula. So far as I know the ingredients are: light rum, dark rum (preferably Meyers), lime juice, curacao, and almond orgeat (whatever that is). I tried it with everything except the almond orgeat, and got moderate results. It tastes like it's missing something-probably the elusive orgeat. In some bars where I know they're just improvising (not a place where they would normally make a mai-tai) it tastes like they put pineapple juice in it. Even though I know that's not right it tastes better than what I made. Anybody got any clues to the mystery?

[ This Message was edited by: donhonyc on 2003-01-24 17:37 ]

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Trader Woody
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2301
From: Tiki Manor, Forest of Bowland,UK
Posted: 2003-01-24 5:51 pm   Permalink

I think you've solved the mystery yourself....it's the orgeat syrup that really makes the difference. It really does add the crucial taste to a Mai Tai. Drinks like The Golden Colada also benefit from the orgeat taste. If you really can't get hold of any a little bit of Amaretto might do the trick.

Trader Woody

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Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2987
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2003-01-24 5:59 pm   Permalink

As this Mai Tai discussion has happened here before (we don't expect you to know that) you might want to do a search for "Mai Tai".

For the best Mai Tai reviews and recipes check out this web site:


It hasn't been updated in a while but it's been around for a long time.

Orgeat shouldn't be too hard to find and it's absolutely neccessary. Look at Davinci's web site:


You're on the right track to tropical drink nirvana! Keep insisting on the best and don't let anyone rip you off by putting pineapple juice or grenadine in your Mai Tai. Buy the Grog Log and Intoxica by Beachbum Berry and have fun!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 13, 2003
Posts: 1173
From: The Quiet EAST Village
Posted: 2003-01-24 6:19 pm   Permalink

thanks dudes....

yeah, I wanna do it right/trader vic style. where do I find the orgeat? Grocery store?

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 28, 2002
Posts: 712
From: santa monica
Posted: 2003-01-24 6:25 pm   Permalink

the stuff is hard to get unless you go to trader vics online. i make a mean mai tai as follows:1oz orange curacao,1/2oz orgeat syrup,2oz lime juice,2oz dark rum,1oz golden rum,4 drops angostura bitters and half a tray of ice,then blend away and drink!
keep the rubber side down ,the gas on and the drinks coming!

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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 0
Posted: 2003-01-24 6:26 pm   Permalink


You typically have to go to a 'real' liquor store like 'Hi-Times' or one of those liquor warehouses. The average liquor store doesn't usually stock it.

Remember, use fresh limes. Oh yeah, to make it really happen, turn the lights down, spin some exotica, kick back in your vintage rattan chair, and sip!
"I'm ashamed to be here, but not too ashamed to leave..."

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 29, 2002
Posts: 1794
From: San Diego, CA
Posted: 2003-01-24 7:27 pm   Permalink


Assuming you don't like the prepared mixes and want to start from scratch, try this:
*1 shot light rum
*2 shots dark rum
*2 oz fresh lime juice
*12 oz Orange Curacao
*7 oz Orgeat syrup
Fill your favourite tiki mug or double old-fashioned glass with crushed ice, booze & enough of your mai tai mix to fill the glass, shake or stir vigorously and if you're really trying hard to impress your guests throw in a sprig of mint and a pinapple wedge (straw recommended...umbrellas optional)

[ This Message was edited by: Shipwreckjoey on 2003-01-25 12:41 ]

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Tiki Royale
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Dec 06, 2002
Posts: 891
From: The Aloha Room in Beautiful Belmont, CA!
Posted: 2003-01-24 9:39 pm   Permalink

Hey, you guys forgot the FIRE!!!

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Traitor Vic
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 02, 2003
Posts: 428
From: Greenville, SC
Posted: 2003-01-24 11:43 pm   Permalink

donhonyc!!! Do Not Order Orgeat Online Until You Check Your Local Coffee House!!!
I searched and searched around my little hometown and finally gave up and ordered a bottle from Trader Vic's. Two days later I wandered into a Coffee House up the street from the office and found that they had Cases of the Stuff! This would not have bothered me had it not been for the fact that I had called and asked someone there if they had ever even heard of it and been told "NO". Any Coffee House that carries the Torani Syrups can get it for you if they don't already have it. Any Coffee Shop that carries any competitive Syrup brand should be able to, as well. If you can't find it at a Coffee House, check with the guys at your local Liquor Store or Party Shop before you pay about $12.00 for a bottle of the stuff.
I've never heard anyone suggest that a Lone Sprig of Mint should be tossed onto a Mai-Tai before. Trader Vic always used Orchids as garnish. Everything I've ever read (except fot that earlier post, perhaps) and everything that I believe convinces me that you can't go too far when garnishing a Mai-Tai. I tend to use Parasol Straws and a traditional Zombie Garnish (Cube of Pineapple, Red Maraschino Cherry, Sprig of Mint, Green Maraschino Cherry, Cube of Pineapple) on a pick. Whatever you do... Don't Hold Back!!!
Orgeat is also very useful in a good many other Cocktail Recipes. Go to
http://www.webtender.com/ and check some of them out.

[ This Message was edited by: Traitor Vic on 2003-01-24 23:59 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Traitor Vic on 2003-01-25 00:01 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 13, 2003
Posts: 1173
From: The Quiet EAST Village
Posted: 2003-01-25 12:22 am   Permalink

Aloha again...

Thank you everybody for all the useful info. Traitor Vic...I will definitely look in one of the coffee joints and find the secret almond ingredient that's missing. Very useful to know that it can be found in places like that. And yeah..the mai-tais with everything except that stuff suck. And just for extra added laughs I'll tell you guys that the curacao that I bought was blue. DUH!! I thought it was only the color of the bottle until I poured the stuff. I'll letcha y'all know what happens when I get the orgeat. After the mai-tai, I was planning on heading to Zombie town and try to make one of them. Until then.......Mahalo!!!!

[ This Message was edited by: donhonyc on 2003-01-25 00:24 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 06, 2002
Posts: 464
From: Penna
Posted: 2003-01-25 08:04 am   Permalink

My enjoyment of mai tais at home was placed on hold because I could not find orgeat syrup anywhere. I couldnt even find a store that knew what I was talking about. Finally I bought "almond syrup" at a specialty shop where they sell gourmet food products like fancy cookies from Belgium. Its the same thing and the mai tais are now flowing freely at my pad. I have also seen almond syrup at TJ Maxx stores.
Make mine a mai tai!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 26, 2002
Posts: 1055
From: Long Beach, CA
Posted: 2003-01-25 08:22 am   Permalink

Yeah, be sure to use the orange curacao, not the blue! They're bothe the same stuff, just different colors. Blue makes a pretty foul looking mai-tai!

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Doctor Z
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 01, 2002
Posts: 1617
From: The Hale Moana Lounge, Torrance, CA
Posted: 2003-01-25 09:10 am   Permalink

Shipwreckjoey - do you really put 12 ounces of curacao and 7 ounces of orgeat(pronounced "or-zhah" - it's French, so the 't' is silent)in your mai tais?? That would make for a rather, uhhh, interesting drink, I'd say! Please tell me it was a typo!

If you're out and about somewhere, you really can't expect to get a mai tai that is not based on pineapple juice or at least a mix of some sort. The best mai tai will come from a bartender that crafts it personally for you, taking time to hand-squeeze the lime (believe it or not, it DOES make a difference) and mixing the correct proportions so you can actually TASTE the rum!
IMHO, there is only one way to make a mai tai, and that is Trader Vic's way, plain and simple (this is from TV's Bartenders Guide):
--The juice of 1 fresh lime (cut in half, 1/2 saved to put into drink)
--1/2 oz Orange Curacao
--1/4 oz Rock Candy Syrup
--1/4 oz Orgeat
--1 oz dark Jamaican Rum (I use Meyers's)
--1 oz Martinique Rum (Vic used St. James which is not so easy to come by these days; I substitute either Jamaican (Appleton or Plantation 8 yr.) or Barbados (Mt. Gay Sugar Cane)
--hand shake and decorate with fresh mint (no mention of orchids, although I agree with Trator Vic - don't hold back on the garnishes! Even when I make one just for myself I add the mint, a cherry/pinapple combo and a parasol!)

I have seen orgeat/almond syrup at Cost Plus, but if you live anywhere near a Bristol Farms, they carry Trader Vic's line of syrups, incl. Orgeat & Rock Candy, as well as a surprisingly good selection of rums. They also stock Judd's Hill wines!!

As far as the blue curacao goes - one of the bartenders at Sam's Seafood makes mai tais using blue curacao. While it does taste about the same (lots o' pineapple...), it looks nasty and with a mai tai, looks really count!
Purveyor of
Doctor Z’s 'Not-Quite-Patented' Hangover Remedy
“Sworn BY, not sworn AT”
Ask for it by name!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 26, 2002
Posts: 756
From: Grape Town, California
Posted: 2003-01-25 10:50 am   Permalink

Why all the controversy on the pronunciation of orgeat? Say it just as it's spelled. To show off that you're a real afficianado, stroll into Trader Vic's on a busy evening and loudly inquire "Hey, where's the orgy-at?" They'll then know you're a suave and sophisticated customer and will treat you to the night of your life. A little tip from your Weird Uncle Tiki.

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jul 07, 2002
Posts: 96
From: Minneapolis, MN
Posted: 2003-01-25 11:06 am   Permalink

When my fiance and I were in Hawaii I was constantly being offered Mai Tais(to my good fortune). In my experience, they were made with rum, lime juice, and pineapple juice. That may not be the way Trader Vic created them but they were extremely enjoyable nontheless. They (the Hawaiian barkeeps) did not use any bloody grenadine. Not that I despise grenadine or anything-it's just that I'm with the rest of you in that I am repulsed (and slightly indignant) when I order a Mai-tai and it's pink.

[ This Message was edited by: SlovakTiki on 2003-01-26 05:24 ]

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