My Mai Tai recipe without needing orgeat syrup (God forbid!!!)

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Paul B avatar image
Paul B 🇺🇸 | 472 ratings Author Posted 17 May '20

I have been slowing perfecting my own recipes for the complex Mai Tai. I wound up going back to the original from Trader Vic , but leaving orgeat syrup out of the mix. I really don't like that syrup and Trader Vic used it in very small amounts to put his Tiki drinks over the edge from competitor Don The Beachcomber. Basically, it all boils down to the rums. There should be one agricole, and one dark, preferably with Jamaican hogo funk. I had to use three rums to achieve my perfect mix. The original dark Martiniquan rum was actually some crap like Negrita that they do not even keep for themselves on that island! All of these rums were not even available in the heyday of Tiki bars. As for the 17 year old Jamaican rum, that one is long gone. I am not a stickler for exact duplication from almost a hundred years ago, but I only want a damn good tasting Mai Tai. If you cannot find JM VO Rhum, any premium agricole of LOW AGING will work, since those agricoles are so delicate that they absorb too much of the wooden barrel taste with aging. So all that I did was to substitute the orgeat syrup with the same amount of simple syrup, which means no added sweetness. Instead of two rums, I had to use three. And this took LOTS of trials to get this mixture right. I multiply this recipe by three to store in old Admiral Rodney bottles, which is the perfect bottle for such bulk drinks that have no carbonation. Cheers!!!! Paul's perfect Mai Tai without orgeat syrup --------------------------------------------------------------------- 1.0 ounce simple syrup 1.0 ounce Clement Creole Shrubb (no substitutes!) 1.0 ounce Smith & Cross Rum (no substitutes!) 1.0 ounce JM VO Rhum (or other premium UNAGED agricole) 1.5 ounces lime juice 2.0 ounces Eldorado 8 Rum (strongly recommended for your dark rum)
SlandT 🇺🇸 | 12 ratings Replied 24 Jan '24


"During the golden era, “Martinique rum” was not rhum agricole, i.e., cane juice rum. Instead, the Martinique rum available to bartenders was molasses-based and described by Trader Vic as close to Jamaican rum in flavor. Thus, rhum agricole isn’t among the Basics styles below. When an old recipe calls for a Martinique rum, you can reasonably substitute a moderately-aged Jamaican rum."

The rums aside, if you aren't in the mood for orgeat, you could substitute amaretto.  It brings the almond flavor without the flower waters which I'm personally not always in the mood for.

DB avatar image
DB 🇺🇸 | 67 ratings Replied 4 Feb '24

@SlandT - Yeah, kinda torn myself between Orgeat using both Rose and Orange Blossom water. I think I'm going just Orange Blossom. The Rose is just too much perfumy-ness I'm finding. I do prefer making my own, but it's nice to keep a decent quality pre-made for when I'm feeling lazy and not wanting to make new stuff. I hear you on that note!

@PaulB - Sounds good. I'll have to try that recipe out. Got ED8 and S&C. I don't have any, but my local TWM does have the Shrubb. I do have Clement VSOP and Rhum J.M Terroir Volcanique. My try the TV?

SlandT 🇺🇸 | 12 ratings Replied 4 Feb '24

I like Liber and Co.  They only use Orange Blossom water, not rose, but to me it's still perfumey.  I haven't tried BG Reynolds.  Although they're most popular, they don't use anything but almonds and almond flavoring, sugar, water and some chemicals.  I have no idea how it tastes though.

If you're looking to avoid the almond altogether, you could go with orange bitters(?)

Kel 🇺🇸 | 0 ratings Replied 17 Feb '24

Never a fan here of either the rose or orange blossom water. But for my taste buds, the almond is essential in a mai tai. I leave both out when making my orgeat and have never enjoyed the drink more.