How to make a Mai Tai and what’s in a Mai Tai – a traditional cocktail recipe with a twist for the holidays. This fruity dark rum cocktail is a twist on the original and made with pineapple juice.

Quick and easy, this festive cocktail is made with just 4 ingredients.

A mai tai cocktail garnished with cranberries
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A traditional Mai Tai cocktail with a delicious twist!

This creation is inspired by a cocktail I enjoyed in Leo’s Oyster Bar in San Francisco. They served up a warm and fuzzy Mai Tai in a kitchy glass. I decided to recreate Leo’s cocktail to warm you up as winter approaches.

I know it’s a little early to think about the holidays, but I assure you, you’ll enjoy this recipe all fall and winter long, especially at holiday get togethers. It’s wonderfully warming and the flavors are out of this world!

What is a Mai Tai?

A traditional Mai Tai is made with rum, Curaçao liqueur, orgeat syrup, and lime juice, but through the years there have been a lot of variations.

I make mine (dubbed a Merry Mai Tai for the holidays) with pineapple juice, orange juice, dark rum, and amaretto for the Best Mai Tai Recipe.

This Mai Tai is still a touch fruity, but more balanced than most thanks to the addition of amaretto, my first love.

Amaretto is so smooth, that it’s always a crowd pleaser, especially among light drinkers. My mom rarely drank, but when she did, she enjoyed an amaretto sour and when I came of drinking age, I did too.

If you’re going to offer just one cocktail for a holiday get together, this is it – this (Merry) Mai Tai will put everyone in the holiday spirit!

This Mai Tai is one of my favorite holiday drinks along with Spiked Apple Cider and an Apple Cinnamon Old Fashioned.

Mai Tai Cocktail Ingredients

  • Pineapple Juice – Use the freshest pineapple juice you can with no other added ingredients. I love the tropical vibe it gives the cocktail!
  • Orange Juice – Again, use fresh orange juice for the freshest and brightest flavors.
  • Dark Rum – I like to use Flor de Cana, it’s a perfect sipping rum and works great in this drink. If you have a favorite brand, feel free to use that.
  • Amaretto – Amaretto is a sweet Italian almond based liqueur. Disaronno is a great brand to use in this drink.
  • Crushed Ice – This cocktail is best poured over crushed ice to serve it chilled. The crushed ice melts fairly quickly and helps to dilute the drink.


Make it a Virgin Mai Tai – Mix pineapple juice, orange juice, almond syrup, grenadine and sparkling water to enjoy all the flavor, without the alcohol.

How To Make A Mai Tai Cocktail

  1. Mix – whisk together the juices rum and amaretto in a pitcher.
  2. Serve – Pour into glasses filled with crushed ice.
mai tai in a pitcher and poured into two glasses


Make Ahead

It’s best not to pour this cocktail ahead of time as the crushed ice will dilute the drink too much. You can, however, mix the juices, amaretto and rum together in a pitcher an hour or two ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to serve.


Traditional Mai Tai cocktails are garnished with a sprig of mint and a squeezed half of a lime. Because this recipe is a holiday twist on the classic recipe, I garnished mine with fresh cranberries on a toothpick. I just love the contrasting colors!

Two cocktails garnished with cranberries

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More Easy Cocktail Recipes

Mtwo mai tais garnished with cranberries
5 from 18 votes

Mai Tai

How to make a Mai Tai and what's in a Mai Tai – a traditional cocktail recipe with a twist for the holidays. This fruity dark rum cocktail is a twist on the original and made with pineapple juice.
Prep: 3 minutes
Total: 3 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
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  • 12 ounces pineapple juice
  • 12 ounces orange juice
  • 6 ounces dark rum flor de cana
  • 6 ounces amaretto
  • crushed ice


  • In a pitcher, whisk together juices, rum and amaretto.
  • Pour over glasses filled with crushed ice.


  • Make it traditional with rum, Curaçao liqueur, orgeat syrup, and lime juice.
  • You can mix the liquids together an hour or two ahead of time and keep them in the fridge.
  • Garnish with fresh cranberries on a toothpick.

Virgin Mai Tai

Replace rum and amaretto with 1/3 cup almond syrup, 1/3 cup grenadine and top with sparkling water to taste.
Calories: 143kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 196mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 113IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg

Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.

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