The Mai Tai is the quintessential tiki cocktail as far as I’m concerned. It is one of the most classic and actually one of the most fought over. The founding fathers of tiki, Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic, actually went to court over the rights to the drink, claiming that they were both the original creators! But even with its rich history, popularity in the mid-century, a prominent role in the movie Blue Hawaii (I love Elvis), and it being the official cocktail of Richard Nixon’s presidency (what?), somehow it is still the most misinterpreted cocktail. It’s pretty simple—rum, lime, curaçao, and orgeat, and for my own version, I’ve incorporated fresh mango, which is the perfect addition for summertime.
Mango Mai Tai, serves 1
The most important part of this drink and probably the most complicated is the orgeat. Making your own is relatively easy, but If you don’t want to make it, you can purchase a store bought one and I highly recommend this one here.
To make orgeat, all you have to do is make almond milk and then add sugar. Soak one cup of almonds in a bowl with water for about an hour. This makes them soft and releases more flavor when you blend them. The longer you let them soak the better! Drain the almonds and place in your blender with 3 cups of water and blend on high. Place a nut milk bag (or a cheese cloth over a fine strainer) over a large bowl and slowly pour the almond milk mixture. Gently squeeze the bag or cloth to release the milk. (This is the most tedious part.)
After you’re done straining, measure the almond milk and add double the amount of sugar (2:1). I used demerara sugar because it is richer and works best for the types of drinks that orgeat is used in. If you want to enhance the flavor of your orgeat, add a few drops of almond extract as well.
Mai Tais are usually served over crushed ice, but I thought blending this version would be better because of the addition of mango. Add your rum, lime, orgeat, curaçao, and mango to a blender with 6-8 oz. of ice and blend on high. I’m a fan of the elaborate garnish so I used fresh mint, a lime wheel, and an orchid flower.
I really love this version of the Mai Tai. I made an already tropical cocktail even more so by taking it a step further and adding mango. All the flavors go so well together and making homemade orgeat was definitely worth it. I’m a huge fan of tropical cocktails and I really enjoyed making my own spin on the classic. According to legend, after Trader Vic presented the cocktail to some of his visiting Tahitian friends, they ended up liking it so much one of them exclaimed, “Maita’i roa a’e,” which translates to “Out of this world! The best!”. This is where the Mai Tai gets its name from. I hope you think this cocktail is the best too! It looks like you might have a recipe for your next tiki party. 😉
If you make these at home, don’t forget to tag your pics with #abmhappyhour. Cheers, everyone! xo – Natalie