Discovering the Ultimate Mai Tai

Plus a DIY orgeat hack!

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I usually don’t pay too much attention to drink holidays as there are so many of them but national Mai Tai day deserves a mention. I’m a little late in doing so but I’ve been recovering from a minor surgery, hence the radio silence!

There are a tonne of Mai Tai variations out there but a traditional Mai Tai should ONLY contain rum, curacao (orange liqueur), lime juice and orgeat. NO pineapple juice, orange juice or grenadine!

The Mai Tai is a great vehicle for combining your favourite rums but if I were to reach for only a single bottle, it would most likely be Appleton 12.


A year or so ago I came across Kevin Crossman. He’s been searching for the ultimate Mai Tai recipe for over 25 years and this is his winning combination of rums (keep in mind that this is not a cheap Mai Tai by any means, especially if you’re in Australia!).



I’m sharing two orgeat recipes with you. I’ll start with the complete recipe then a hack for those that are in a rush to kick back with a Mai Tai.

Orgeat (almond syrup)

Makes 1 2/3 cups. Keep refrigerated and use within 2 weeks.

  • 2 cups blanched almonds

  • 1 ¼ cups water

  • 1 ½ cups superfine sugar

  • ½ tsp orange blossom water

  • 1 oz brandy / rum

  1. Blend almonds + water

  2. In a saucepan, combine almond paste + sugar

  3. Stir on medium-low heat until sugar has dissolved

  4. Remove from heat. Sit for 4-8 hours.

  5. Strain through a cheesecloth.

  6. Add orange blossom water + brandy.

  7. Transfer to a sterilised bottle.

Orgeat Hack

The hack is pretty simple but it speeds things up by cutting out the 'messy’ part of the process. Rather than making your own nut milk—buy it (ensure you use a good quality nut milk). Combine the nut milk with sugar over heat, dissolve and add the remaining ingredients. Simples.

You can choose to make a 1:1 or 2:1 syrup (the later will last longer) and, optionally, bolster the flavour with a touch of almond extract.

I recommend following the full method at the top, but the hack is a handy trick to have up your sleeve!

The Easy Option

Store bought. I’ve tried many and my preferred brand is: Liber & Co. Orgeat

Do you make your own syrups at home?

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I shared a poll on YouTube to find out which bottles were hard to find for those that live in the US. Thanks for those that provided feedback!

The team from Curiada took note and have just listed a whole slew of new bottles, including some of the ones you mentioned, and they're 10% off!

They've even got a range of bottled cocktails from an Australian distillery, Starward. Head there now, and if you shop through my link, I get a small tip! 🙏

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