Get Ready For Spring With This Easy And Classic Mai Tai Cocktail Recipe

The Mai Tai is one of the most iconic cocktails of all time. The rummy tropical mix is simple, delicious, and super refreshing. It’s also one of the most bastardized cocktails ever. Syrupy flavor replacements and a million unnecessary add-ins have plagued this cocktail for almost a century now.

So let’s get back to basics. The old-school Mai Tai is a mix of dark Jamaican rum — originally 17-year-old J. Wray & Nephew rum — with orgeat syrup, fresh lime, and Orange Curaçao over crushed ice with a fresh mint and lime wheel garnish. That’s it and it’s brilliant.

Unfortunately, the 17-year-old J. Wray & Nephew rum that Victor Bergeron used at Trader Vic’s back in the day is no longer made. This has caused all that fuss with different rums and ingredients over the years — bartenders were earnestly trying to find that exact flavor profile again without the rum available anymore.

Today, you can recreate the drink exactly thanks to Appleton Estate releasing a very limited special 17-year-old rum release. It’s an expensive bottle but it’s the right bottle. See our recipe below and add this essential cocktail to your repertoire as the weather warms up again.

Also Read: The Top Five Cocktail Recipes of the Last Six Months

Mai Tai

Mai Tai
Zach Johnston


  • 2 oz. aged Jamaican rum
  • 0.5 oz. Orange Curaçao
  • 0.5 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 oz. orgeat
  • Crushed ice
  • Fresh mint
  • Lime wheel

So, Appleton Estate released “Legends” to give the world the iconic 17-year-old J. Wray & Nephew rum again. The issue is… it’s a $500 bottle of rum. That’s wildly expensive for a cocktail. But it’s the right rum and the original flavor profile for this cocktail. And ho boy does it work.

If you cannot stomach a bottle of Legends, I’d recommend Appleton Estates 12-year rum. It’s perfectly suitable for making this cocktail — and much less dire for your wallet ($50).

Next, you’ll need both Orange Curaçao and orgeat. Both will be readily available at any good liquor store.

Mai Tai
Zach Johnston

What You’ll Need:

  • Large rocks glass
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Paring knife
  • Hand juicer
  • Jigger
Mai Tai
Zach Johnston


  • Add the rum, Orange Curaçao, fresh lime juice, and orgeat to the cocktail shaker with a large handful of crushed ice. Affix the lid and shaker vigorously for about 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Pour the whole drink with ice into the waiting glass. Add a little more crushed ice to the top of the cocktail and then garnish with fresh mint and a lime wheel. Serve.

Bottom Line:

Mai Tai
Zach Johnston

This is so complex and delicious. There’s a deep nuttiness that’s accented by orange oils and fresh bright lime juice. There’s a sweetness but it’s more attached to a tobacco-molasses rumminess than a sugary syrup.

The body of the drink has a beautifully balanced woody spice bark vibe with soft tropical florals and fresh citrus. There’s a nice tobacco finish with a hint of almond sweetness and soft lush creaminess. In short, this is sunshine in a glass.