Victor Bergeron, best known as Trader Vic, in 1944, created this classic cocktail. (It must be noted that Don the Beachcomber claims to have invented the same drink 11 years earlier in Hollywood.) The Second World War was in full swing in both Europe and the Pacific and Bergeron was keen to create a mood-lifting cocktail made with the best possible ingredients. He first presented the drink to two friends visiting from Tahiti. His guests replied, Mai Tai, which in Tahitian means out of this world.
Since then this drink has suffered some very poor imitators. Some of the worst offenders were sold by Bergeron himself as bottled, mass-produced, cocktail mixers. However, the original is a damn fine cocktail and when made with high quality rum and orgeat syrup it never fails to impress. (Orgeat syrup can be found with a simple web search and may even be sold in your local café as it is a popular addition to modern coffee drinks.)
1 oz. Aged Rum (5 to 12 years)
1 oz. White Rum (top quality)
1 oz. Fresh squeezed limejuice
1/2 oz. Orange curacao
1/2 oz. Orgeat syrup
You can enjoy a Mai Tai anytime of year, especially if you're in a tropical environment. Rum is typically seen as a summer spirit but the rich flavors of the dark, aged Rum give this drink a warming quality as well.
Place all of the ingredients, along with cracked ice, into a cocktail shaker. Give it a vigorous shake and pour over ice into a double old fashioned, Collins glass, or a festive Tiki inspired glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of fresh mint. Try not to add one of those little paper umbrellas.
There are thousands of variations of the Mai Tai but it must be Rum based and it has to have orgeat syrup. You can skip the two Rum additions by using just a single, quality aged Rum.