Mai Tai (Trader Vic's) Cocktail

Difford's Guide
User Rating




270 calories
Mai Tai (Trader Vic's) Cocktail image


Lime, mint sprig, pineapple cube & Luxardo Maraschino cherry

How to make:

SHAKE all ingredients with ice and strain into glass filled with crushed ice.

2 fl oz Bacardi 8 year old rum
1/2 fl oz Orange Curaçao liqueur
3/4 fl oz Lime juice (freshly squeezed)
1/4 fl oz Giffard Orgeat Syrup
1/4 fl oz Giffard Sugar Cane Syrup


We love Daiquiris and this is basically a classic Daiquiri with a few bells and whistles.


In 1934, Victor Jules Bergeron, or Trader Vic as he became known, opened his first restaurant in Oakland, San Francisco. He served Polynesian food with a mix of Chinese, French and American dishes cooked in wood-fired ovens. But he is best known for the rum based cocktails he created.

One evening, in 1944, he tested a new drink on two friends from Tahiti, Ham and Carrie Guild. After the first sip, Carrie is said to have exclaimed, "mai tai-roa aé", which in Tahitian means 'out of this world - the best!'. So Bergeron named his drink the Mai Tai.

Vic's original Mai Tai was based on 17 year old Jamaican J.Wray & Nephew rum, which in his own book he describes as being "surprisingly golden in colour, medium-bodied, but with the rich pungent flavour particular to the Jamaican blends". Vic's recipe calls for "rock candy" syrup, an old term for the type of strong sugar syrup we prescribe here at Difford's Guide: two parts sugar to one part water. The term 'rock candy' referred to the fact that you could dangle a piece of string in the syrup to encourage crystallisation and make rock candy.

This recipe is adapted from Victor Bergeron's Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide (1972 revised edition), the original 1944 formula is:

2 ounces of 17-year old J. Wray & Nephew Rum
Juice from one fresh lime
1/2 ounce Holland DeKuyper Orange Curacao
1/4 ounce Trader Vic's Rock Candy Syrup
1/2 ounce French Garier Orgeat Syrup

Shake vigorously over shaved ice and garnish with a mint sprig.

A more detailed history of this drink, along with its variants can be found on our Mai Tai cocktail page.

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