Ultimate Hawaii Guide

How to Make A Hawaiian Mai Tai—From an Expert

A Hawaiian bartender breaks down the classic tropical drink.

By Ethan Chung December 20, 2016 Published in the January 2017 issue of Seattle Met

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Image: Kevin Whipple

How do you make a mai tai, the signature drink of Hawaii? We asked Peter Chung, longtime resort bartender (and my dad), what he knows about the fruit concoction:

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“When I first started working pool bars in the ’70s, people were really into drinks like fog cutters, zombies, and scorpions. They were super alcoholic, very strong drinks.

"But for the most part, mai tais and piña coladas are always my best sellers.

“The good mai tais are always made from scratch. We make ours with pineapple juice, a splash of OJ, orgeat syrup, and light and dark rum. Some bartenders will use orange curacao or a sweet and sour mix too. I know a lot of guys who will just make it up in gallons because they sell so many.”

Update 1/12/17: Peter Chung shared his mai tai recipe for home bartenders:

Mai Tai

Fill a 14-ounce glass with ice. Add the following in order:
1 ounce dark rum
1/4 ounce orange curacao
1/8 ounce orgeat syrup
1/2 ounce orange juice
2 ounces pineapple juice

Finish with a splash of dark rum for a floater and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. If you prefer more tartness, substitute sweet-and-sour mix for the orange juice.

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