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Mai Tai

Mai Tai

“There will forever be debates about the tastiest and most proper combination of rum varieties to use in a Mai Tai, but as with any craft cocktail, rules can be bent and taste is always relative. Therein lies the magic at our fingertips. I like the rugged earthiness that rhum agricole brings to the table, and it balances well here with this smooth, five-year rum by Plantation. I skipped the often-added demerara syrup in favor of a touch more orgeat, then cut down on the curaçao to combat the sweetness. To add more depth, I tip my hat to my home state with the addition of Jamaican No. 2 Bitters from Milwaukee's Bittercube. The bright citrus and hibiscus coupled with warm ginger and allspice make a killer addition to any tiki cocktail. Finally, I buck tradition (uh, again?) with a float of Gosling's 151, simply because I like the visual contrast and a Mai Tai that packs a punch. Cheers!”
-Briana Rupel | Resident Bartender


  • ¾ oz lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • ¾ oz homemade orgeat syrup
  • 1 oz Plantation five-year rum
  • 1 oz Neisson Agricole Blanc Rhum
  • ¼ oz Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao
  • 2 dashes Bittercube Jamaican No. 2 Bitters
  • ½ oz Gosling's Black Seal 151, reserved for float


  1. Add all except Gosling's to shaker. Mime shake (without ice) to amalgamate without diluting.  
  2. Pour into large rocks glass, then fill with crushed ice. 
  3. Use a bar spoon to float Gosling's on top.
  4. Garnish with a bountiful mint bouquet, smacked to release oils and avoid a straw. The mint aroma and rum float will do their best work when sippers put the glass to their lips.  


(sub-recipe courtesy of Kevin Beary, beverage director of Three Dots and A Dash/The Bamboo Room, Chicago)

Perhaps the most essential ingredient to this viscous, nutty syrup is patience, something I didn't have a lot of during my first attempt at whipping up my own batch. Trust me, without a willingness to wait, your yield will be low, and your syrup chunky and flavorless. Orange blossom or rosewater is traditional, but not necessary.

Both are overwhelmingly perfumey, so I suggest adding a drop at a time and testing until desired result is reached, or skip it altogether like Kevin Beary and the crew at Three Dots. Beary's recipe is adaptable to your volume needs. -Briana Rupel 

  1. Take skinless, blanched almonds, and soak them in tap water for 24 hours in the fridge.  
  2. Strain the water off the almonds and add equal parts (by weight) of fresh water. 
  3. Blend that and the almonds together until it turns into a paste and strain through a sieve. 
  4. Keep the resulting almond milk, and sweeten it one-to-one with white sugar.* 

*Beary highly recommends white sugar instead of less refined sugars because the darker molasses tones tend to cover up the beautiful almond flavor. 

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