Variations and Substitutions
If you're missing a few ingredients, you have some options so you can still enjoy a cocktail.
- Use coconut rum in place of silver rum.
- Skip the last step and shake the dark rum with all of the other ingredients.
- Opt for lemon juice instead of lime juice.
- Instead of dark rum, try navy rum in its place.
- Add a splash of pineapple juice.
If you have a different vision for your garnish or you want something else but can't decide, consider these.
- Add a mint sprig for extra color and a bouquet of freshness.
- Use a dehydrated citrus wheel for a modern, moody look.
- Experiment with a cherry on its own or in addition to another garnish or two.
- A citrus peel, twist, or ribbon adds more color without changing the profile.
About the Mai Tai
Although the mai tai is a tropical recipe and feels as though it was born on an island, it was first shaken up in California, by a bartender named Victor Bergeron. Or, as he was more commonly known, Trader Vic. Trader Vic crafted the mai tai in hopes of bringing high-quality rums to bar guests, but like many tropical drinks over the years, it fell victim to pre-made mixes and a heavy hand with sugar.
As with most cocktails, there's debate about who was responsible for the first. Donn Beach, also in California, also claims that he was the first to shake up this rum concoction. Whether Trader Vic or Donn is the father of the mai tai, it has remained a popular drink within tropical bars and summer menus, or any time of year for those who are California dreaming.
Mai Tai Time
Unlike many other tropical cocktails, the mai tai is relatively easy to shake up. Not only does it come together quickly for a single glass, but you can easily double or triple the recipe to share the happiness with friends.