When you want a drink, the same old standard won’t always get the job done. The truth of the matter is that you need something different than your standard go-to cocktail from time to time. If you aren’t in the habit of making a lot of cocktails, you may be wondering which ingredients go into a Mai Tai. More specifically, you are probably curious about the liqueur used to make it. There are dozens of brands that you can choose from, but which ones are the best? The five best brands will be discussed soon enough but before we get into that, let’s discuss the way to make a proper Mai Tai.
Mai Tai Recipe
Thankfully, this is one of the simplest cocktail recipes you can make. It only takes a few ingredients, with the main one being rum. Aside from that, you’ll need liqueur (as discussed in the following paragraphs), orgeat syrup and lime juice. Simple, right? Here’s how you actually make it. Take 1 ½ ounces white rum, ½ ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice, ½ ounce orange curacao liqueur, and ½ ounce orgeat syrup. Mix all of these ingredients together in a shaker with ice. Next, strain the mixture into a glass with a couple of ice cubes already in it. Last but certainly not least, add ¾ ounce dark rum and enjoy. Now that you know how to make a Mai Tai correctly, here are the five best curacao liqueurs that you can use.
5. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao Orange Liqueur
Made from 40% alcohol and imported from France, this has long been one of the favorites for this and other cocktails. It has deep woody notes in conjunction with hints of fresh citrus. It has a tendency to be a bit on the bittersweet side, which makes it a good idea for use in cocktails because it pairs well with sweet ingredients (in this particular case, it goes very well with orgeat syrup). Many people also love to drink it on its own, as the bittersweet aftertaste is balanced with hints of marzipan, almond and hazelnuts. It’s also readily available and it doesn’t cost a small fortune, so it’s a solid choice for use in Mai Tais as well as other cocktails.
4. Cointreau Triple Sec Orange Liqueur
There are many things that make this product unique. One of them is the fact that when mixed with other ingredients, you can’t really see or even smell the liqueur, yet you can still taste it in the best possible way. It is intensely orange when sipped on its own, yet it has a tendency to balance the flavors of other ingredients when used in a cocktail. It makes it a near-perfect fit for use in all kinds of cocktails, but especially in the Mai Tai, thanks to the use of orgeat syrup and lime juice. The liqueur balances the sweetness of the syrup and the tart taste of the lime juice, allowing all of the ingredients to blend effortlessly together with the rum.
3. Clement Creole Shrubb Liqueur D’Orange
This product is rather unique for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost, it’s made from both unaged rum and rum that has been aged for a period of six years. Orange peels are then added and the entire mixture is placed in a wooden cask for a whole year. Once it has been aged for the proper amount of time, pure cane syrup is added so that it tastes sweeter and more palatable. Almost immediately after the cane syrup is added, the mixture is then bottled before it has a chance to lose any of its flavor. If you are a fan of liqueur with a slightly sweeter flavor than most, then this is a good option for you. Even if you don’t normally like something this sweet, this one may still work for you because it pairs very well with the other ingredients in a Mai Tai. More specifically, it’s quite effective at balancing the bitterness of the lime juice. When it’s all said and done, the finished product isn’t too sweet, nor is it too tart.
2. Drillaud Orange Liqueur
Imported from France, this particular product has a rather complex flavor. It is reminiscent of triple sec with an intense orange flavor, balanced with the taste of brandy. This combination works exceptionally well in a cocktail and it’s even more effective in a Mai Tai. One word of caution should be followed if you plan on using this one, though. While some of the products on this list can be sipped by themselves, that is not highly recommended with regard to this particular liqueur. That said, some people would argue that it’s hard to beat when used in a cocktail.
1. Senior Curacao Orange Curacao
If you can imagine what triple sec would taste like with more depth, then you’re well on your way to imagining how this product actually tastes. It’s both sweet and bitter. The first thing you notice when you drink it is that it’s more or less sweet with a fairly intense orange taste. After a few seconds, you start to notice a slight hint of bitterness, almost like that associated with biting into an orange peel. It’s a near-perfect option for making some of the best cocktails you’ll likely ever make, including a Mai Tai. Better still, you can enjoy it with this or your other favorite cocktails or you can drink it straight. If you're looking for a good all-around liqueur that can be used effectively in a number of different ways, then this one is genuinely hard to beat. Furthermore, it isn't too expensive and it's typically very easy to find.
Written by Lily Wordsmith
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