About Staking the Plains

Tiki Tech #2 – The Mai Tai

And now, a return to the classics

Another week down, another fleet of drinks to be made.

I hope everybody has done well and had a chance to try out the Jungle Bird from our inaugural post. For this week’s Tiki Tech, we’re going to make the quintessential tiki drink: the Mai Tai. This one gets bastardized a lot and turned more into a boat drink (sugary tropical drink), but the original recipe from Trader Vic (or Don the Beachcomber, if you want to get into that good good tiki lore) is the perfect balance of the sweet/sour/spicy that all tiki drinks aspire to have.

For our Mai Tai, you have the perfect opportunity to try your hand at making your own syrup. Through the coming weeks we’ll be making a few different kinds, but this recipe calls for a Demerara Syrup. This sounds fancy, but don’t let it turn you off; you’re literally boiling water & sugar together for about a minute. If you want to be completely authentic, you can track down some demerara sugar, but as we’ve established last week our current situation isn’t conducive to tracking down exotic ingredients and I’m also lazy and not opposed to making bootleg versions of things. An easy substitute is simple light brown sugar, which you most likely already have. I store mine in a stoppered 1 liter glass bottle that you can get at grocery stores/Target and it keeps for a few weeks when refrigerated.


makes 4 cups (1 liter) syrup. Adapted from the book Smuggler’s Cove

1 cup of light brown sugar

3 cups of granulated sugar

2 cups of water

In a small pot, bring your water to a boil and add the light brown sugar, stirring until sugar has dissolved and you can see the bottom of the pot (about 1 minute). Add remaining sugar, stir until sugar has dissolved (another minute). Let the syrup cool for a bit, then pour through a funnel into a clean glass bottle. Stores in refrigerator for a few weeks).

Simple syrups are typically a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water, so if a liter of this is too much for you, you can scale as need be (say, .5 cups light brown sugar, 1.5 cups white sugar, 1 cup of water to make a half batch).


Quintessential tiki and easy to make, adapted from this recipe. A note on orgeat: use the suggested amount or even pull it back a little. I find the almond strong to overpowering, so it may take a few times making this to find your perfect balance. If you don’t have orgeat, you can sub in for an almond syrup from the coffee aisle (bootleg!)

3/4 ounce fresh lime juice

1/2 ounce orange curacao

1/4 ounce orgeat

1/4 ounce demerara syrup

2 ounces gold rum

Add all ingredients into a shaker with ample ice, shake until chilled, and pour all contents into a glass of your choice.


Get your blenders ready





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