Molly Jacobson

Editor of the second best-selling guidebook to MauiTop Maui Restaurants, Molly has called Maui home since 2005.


  1. Brian from SD
    December 28, 2018 @ 6:13 pm

    We just did a family and friends taste test of 4 Mai Tai recipes (including some of the alternatives from the comments here). This was the winner.

    We are experimenting with variations. We’ve found substituting 1/2 oz MINT simple syrup plus 1/2 oz grenadine (poured on top) for the 1 oz simple syrup is a slight but noticeable improvement for our taste (and it improves the presentation and color as well).

    Thanks for the great recipe! We’ll serve this at our next party.

    • Molly Jacobson
      June 25, 2019 @ 3:09 pm

      Yay! 🙂

      • Cory Olsen
        February 19, 2020 @ 11:40 am


        Thanks for sharing this great recipe. I am pushing 70 years old and have been on a life long search for the perfect Mai Tai. I have a question for you, some of the best ones I have had, they floated either dark rum or 151 on top. What is your opinion of that method? Or do you believe it is best shaken as you have described. Thanks for any suggestions or tips.

        • Molly Jacobson
          August 10, 2020 @ 9:06 am

          Cory, I like to shake. I just like the taste better when it’s blended. The float I think is really more about looks than about taste 🙂

  2. LC
    September 29, 2016 @ 4:19 pm

    This recipt isnt a mai tai, or anything close to it.
    Heres how to make a *real* mai tai:

    In your shaker pour 1 ounce each fresh lime juice, Rhum Clément VSOP Martinique rum, and Appleton Estate Extra dark Jamaican rum; 1/2 ounce orange Curacao; 1/2 ounce Latitude 29 Formula Orgeat; and 1/4 ounce sugar syrup. Add at least 2 cups of crushed ice, then shake well for around 10 seconds. Pour unstrained into a double old-fashioned glass. Sink your spent lime shell in the drink, and garnish with a mint sprig. (Drink pictured above.)

    • Kevin
      October 17, 2017 @ 10:47 am

      And where on earth does one find all those rarified ingredients on the island of Kaua‘i??

  3. Navynursenm
    August 11, 2016 @ 2:23 am

    I needed to ask something sacrilegious. If I want to make a less alcoholic version of this doers it affect the taste of the drink that much to cut the amount of rum in it in half? Would I also need to cut the orange curaçao in half?

    • Molly Jacobson
      August 11, 2016 @ 2:12 pm

      Hello, heathen! 😉 Yes, cutting the rum would make the drink weaker and turn it into more of a refreshing, lighter drink. I have never attempted to make a weaker mai tai, just because mai tais are supposed to get you buzzy quickly — but I would do a little side-by-side experiment to see what you like best. I would keep the juice ratios the same, and then try three versions of the drink. The first, I would do the same amount of juice as in the original recipe, but do exactly half the rum, curacao, and orgeat. (The orgeat is super-sweet, and I am afraid that it would be too sweet a drink without the strong rum flavor.) For the second taster, I’d do the same amount of juice as in the original, but keep the orgeat and curacao the same and do half the rum. (This will be, I suspect, too sweet, but may feel “fuller” on the tongue than the first version.) And finally, I’d do a version with the same juices and the orgeat at the same and then do half the rum and curacao. Depending upon your taste, something in there might feel right to you. Also, keep in mind that I take away the keys of anyone who has more than two of these at my house! 🙂

      • Rex Kraft
        December 2, 2016 @ 11:40 am

        Hello Molly!

        I just ran across your recipe and I am right in the middle of the same mai tai recipe quest. I was trying to do the quantity comparison to your recipe, but I have had two of these damn things and the math escapes me. There is always tomorrow! For a single drink I have 1oz light rum, 1oz dark rum, 1/2oz orgeat, 1/2oz triple sec, 1/2oz simple syrup, 1 tbls clarified lime juice, and some crushed up mint from the planter. Pineappley (is that a word?) taste is missing. So that is for tomorrow. Thank you for sharing, such a noble pursuit!

  4. Sam
    July 12, 2016 @ 7:19 am

    Hi Molly,

    Which Bacardi would you use for the Dark rum; Gold or Black? or is there another budget dark rum you would suggest? what do you use? thanks!

  5. Nancy Donaldson
    January 17, 2016 @ 2:44 pm

    Best Mai Tai so far I’ve tried in past twenty years, would be @MonkeyPod Resturant

    Monkeypod Mai Tai

    Old Lahaina light rum
    dark rum
    housemade macadamia nut orgeat
    orange curacao
    honey lilikoi foam

    The best I’ve found tring different places I’ve visited. Amazing!!!

    Best regards,


    Nancy Donaldson
    Campbell, CA USA

  6. Rebecca
    September 21, 2014 @ 4:25 pm

    Best Mai Tai EVER is at “The Tavern” on the north shore of Kauai at the Princeville Golf Cousre! Also, the best food at reasonable prices. We come here every other year and immediately stop to have a Mai Tai. This is a “must have” while in the area. No juice only freshly mulched fruit with light & dark rum, lime juice and Orgeat Syrup, which I will purchase by the case before I return home! Enjoy….Roy is a genious!!!

  7. donna zoghby
    August 22, 2014 @ 5:05 pm

    the best mai tai by far! thank you for sharing molly.

  8. Bill Horan
    May 14, 2014 @ 5:13 am

    Molly, this recipe is truly off-the-charts good – every bit as good as you say in the article. We started hosting a Luau party at our home in Southern California each summer a few years ago, and this quickly became part of the cocktail menu. The only problem is making enough…..exactly as you said in the article, people just suck them down! The other cocktails we make (original Blue Hawaii, Coconut Cloud Martinis, Grilled Pieapple Margaritas…only get consumed when the Mai Tais are done! Any tips for expanding the recipe? Just multiply the ingredient quantities? Bravo!

    • Molly Jacobson
      May 15, 2014 @ 3:17 am

      Hi Bill! I’m so glad you and your guests have enjoyed this over the years. And yes, when I serve a lot, I multiply the quantities. You can substitute cups for ounces, for example, and the ratios will all stay the same. I suppose that you can substitute gallons for ounces, too, if you’re really serving a crowd. As long as the ratios stay the same, you’re golden.

  9. Cris
    July 25, 2013 @ 2:46 am

    Molly, thanks for your dedication in preparing this drink. This is really great stuff.

    But have a question: Which of the ingredients would adjust, to include Bacardi Gold, Myer’s Dark, and Kraken Black Spiced rums? With orange and pineapple juices?
    I believe you and that Kevin that posted his recipe are the closest yet to perfection. The ingredients I listed above are made are fm Mai Tai Bar’s (Honolulu) drink menu. This is in their ‘Traditional’ Mai Tai.

    • Molly Jacobson
      December 17, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

      Bacardi Gold and Dark would be your light and dark rums, respectively. And if you like the spiced rum in your mai tai, I’d use it to replace the dark. Or maybe … because I’m not such a spiced rum fan myself, try doing half dark and half spiced rums for the amount of dark rum in the recipe. Ack. Hope that was clear! As for “traditional” mai tais, that’s a legal matter and I have no standing. My recipe is just my personal favorite 😉 perfect mai tai!

      • Bob Wilson
        May 23, 2014 @ 5:51 pm

        Have you ever experimented with other brand rums? I want try your recipe and already have a bottle of Goslings Black Seal, Kraken, and Abelton white rum. Wondering how either combination of those darks/light would fare compared to Bacardi Gold and Dark, specifically. Thanks for the recipe!

        • Molly Jacobson
          May 24, 2014 @ 1:47 pm

          Hi Bob! I’ve never had the Goslings Black Seal, but I hear it’s yummy. From what I can see about it on review sites, I think it might be a nice rich rum to use for the dark. The Appleton white (which is what I think you mean by Abelton?) is a good substitute for Bacardi. I personally don’t like Kraken, but I don’t really like most spiced rums — just a personal preference. Plus, for this recipe I like to keep it on the floral/fruity side, less the spicy. But that’s just my taste. I say experiment and see what you think. I would absolutely try the Appleton White and the Goslings Black Seal together. I only use Bacardi in the recipe because it’s what most people have access to… but any light and dark rums that you personally like can be used. The beauty of a mai tai is that there is no real “one way” to do it. Enjoy!

  10. TheBeav
    July 19, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

    Wow….what a recipe..heading to Total Wine to start my Mai Tai quest and learn how to create this magical island tour drink…..heading to Princeville in November…

  11. Corinne
    April 6, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

    OMG! You hit the nail on the head my dear. These Mai Tai’s are the best. We even put an extra splash of dark rum over the top and they are spectacular. Thanks so much for the recipe

  12. Wendi H.
    December 31, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

    This is absolutely the best twist on a Mai Tai I have ever had. The mint is such a terrific addition. Although I do make them here in Oregon, I really miss the Old Lahaina rums that I used while in Maui. We are heading back to Kahana for Spring Break and I can’t wait for my first Molly’s Mai Tai on the lanai. And my second…

  13. Kent
    November 21, 2012 @ 6:28 am

    Hi Molly…can’t wait to try your recipe!! I have one of my own I thought I’d share. It’s not a “true” Mai Tai per se…but definitely my go to cocktail when I’m on the islands or when I just need a little liquid aloha at home! 🙂

    Maui Sunset Mai Tai (my own recipe and delicious)!!!!

    1.5 oz. Malibu Rum
    1.5 oz. Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum
    1 oz. Pineapple Juice
    3 oz. POG (Passion, Orange, Guava)
    1/4 fresh squeezed lime (leave it in the cup)
    Mix all above ingredients and pour over ice then add:
    Kraken dark rum floater (critical)
    Pineapple wedge and bruised mint leaves garnish

    If you want to make them by the gallon, take a 1 gallon POG jug and drink half of it. Fill the remaining half gallon 1/3 1/3 and 1/3 with Captain Morgan’s, Malibu and Pineapple Juice. Mix well, pour over ice and serve with a lime wedge, pineapple slice and finish with aKraken dark rum floater and bruised mint leaves.

    BTW: love the book. My wife and I have our own list, called Kent’s Maui Must Do’s, that we share with all our friends that are heading to Maui. Maui is our happy place…physical proof that God loves us! 🙂

  14. Richard
    November 4, 2012 @ 6:41 am

    Aloha Molly! Heading to Kona in a week. 3 couples, renting a waterfront house on Alii, swimming pool, hot tub, the whole she-bang. As the host I want to bring on the mai-tais as everyone arrives. I love the idea of refilling the water bottles. I’m sure that I will not have any prob getting the various juices at the market, but do have any tips on where I should be able to find the simple syrup and the orgeat syrup? I don’t want to be running all over town looking if you know any secrets 🙂

  15. Kevin A.
    August 28, 2012 @ 6:24 am

    Molly, this sounds delicious. I’m interested in making pitchers or gallons of your Mai Tai recipe for a party this weekend. Do you know by how much the quantity of each ingredient would increase to accomplish this? Thanks!

    • Molly Jacobson
      August 28, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

      Hi Kevin! The trick to making this recipe in quantity is making sure that you can mix the ingredients well before serving. I’ve accomplished this in several ways.

      First of all, figure out how many drinks you’re going to make. This recipe serves two, but I can often make it three, because it’s so potent. So, if you need ten drinks, say, and you know this recipe will serve two, you will need to multiply all ingredient amounts by 5 to get your ten servings.

      What’s even easier is to use a different measurement. For example, instead of using “ounces” use “cups.” One cup = one ounce. As long as you use the same measurement for all ingredients, you’ll get the proportions correct. So, in this case, you would use one cup of Orgeat, two cups of pineapple juice, and so on. This will give you lots of mai tais 😉

      Hope that makes sense.

      The biggest challenge will be to mix all of those ingredients ahead of time and ensure that they don’t settle too much. I have dealt with this in several ways in the past. Sometimes I mix up a pitcher of JUST the juice/non-alcoholic ingredients, and then another pitcher of JUST the alcohol. Give each pitcher a BIG stir before you pour 7 oz. of the alcohol mixture and 8 oz. of the juice mixture into a shaker and strain over the crushed ice. The problem with this method is that there is almost always some settling, and my stir doesn’t quite get everything as mixed back up as if I made each drink by hand. Some people get mostly juice, others get mostly rum. This is not the making of a great mai tai.

      So last year I asked James (my husband and co-author of Top Maui Restaurants) to solve the problem. He went to Costco and came back with those little bottled waters they sell in bulk: 8 oz. bottles. We poured the water into pitchers to save for our party, and then I spent a few hours in my kitchen mixing up mai tais. I mixed according to the recipe above, and then immediately poured the contents of the shaker into the little bottles, and recapped them. Then I refrigerated them until the party started.

      That night we had a little self-serve mai-tai bar. We filled a bucket with ice and the mai tai bottles, filled a separate lidded cooler (washed really well and lined with plastic) with crushed ice we made in our Vitamix, and put out highballs. Guests took a glass, added crushed ice with a ladle, and picked up a little bottle, SHOOK it well, and then poured the mai tai over the ice. We had the limes and mint available for garnish, plus straws. This made sure everyone had a perfectly balanced mai tai, and no one had to play bartender. It was heaven. Also, the little bottles were perfect for leftovers — they kept for another day or two without losing flavor, and a couple even went in the freezer.

      This is how I’ll always serve these mai tais from now on. Having them pre-made is nice, but pitchers are too hard to shake/stir adequately. These single serving bottles are perfect. Have a great time!

  16. Swami
    August 17, 2012 @ 6:59 pm

    This is an amazing recipe. Even though I haven’t been able to score orgeat yet, I’m still stoked. Using Amaretto as a substitute is ok….a little “hot” to the taste and extra boozy of course, so I cut down on the rum volume just slightly. Gonna have to either order some orgeat on line or make my own. And of course I have a fine, fine buzz on. Thanks Molly!

  17. Ron
    July 22, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

    Hi Molly!
    Thanks for sharing what is now my favorite Mai Tai recipe! Our previous favorite was from the Maui Onion restaurant at The Renaissance Hotel which I believe to now be closed. They had awesome burgers and Mai tais. Your recipe is awesome! Spent the day day drinking and listening to the Makaha Sons. Great day! Thanks!

  18. Captain Redbeard
    July 19, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

    I love the PPSD campaign….poor Canadians. I agree with the layering, however I have used Kilo Kai spiced rum and it creates a drink that is even more dangerous than a regular Mai Tai. Great article

  19. Scott B
    July 7, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

    Fee Brothers Orgeat is available at Long’s Drug store in the Lahaina Cannery Mall. Patron Citronage is better then triple sec and not as sweet as Grand Marnier (nor as expensive) Goslings Black Seal Rum and Mount Gay Silver will do in a pinch.

  20. DaniCaliGirl
    July 5, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

    EXCELLENT Mai Tai! We were in Kihei, Maui in November, it was our second trip, and we went back to Life’s A Beach home of the $1 Mai Tai ( we get the $6 liter); this Reciepe takes us right back to our favorite watering hole on Maui! Thanks for sharing 😉

    PS- making a batch for a 40th Wedding Anniversary Party this weekend!

  21. John Fischer
    May 23, 2012 @ 11:30 am

    I’ll have to try this. I’m not a huge Mai Tai fan. I prefer a Blue Hawaii cocktail and the best one I ever had of that was at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa at Ko Olina, Oahu.

    OK, back to the subject. Here on the east coast, the hardest ingredient to find would be the guava juice, especially fresh. In fact, I’ve never even see canned.

    • Molly Jacobson
      May 23, 2012 @ 11:57 am

      Hi John! It’s good to see you stop by. I used to get cans of guava juice in NYC and Boston at bodegas — those little hispanic/Spanish/latin neighborhood convenience stores where they sell everything from fruit to beer. I agree, that’s the hardest ingredient to find in your neck of the woods — but maybe you have a little place nearby. Also … you can get canned guava juice online, if you must. But I bet you can find it locally. And I promise you — most mai tais are not nearly as delicious as this. It is like having a big glass of fresh juice —- mmmmmm —– and then, oops. You’re smashed. Enjoy!

  22. Beckie
    March 5, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

    Thank you is great sounding recipe ! I am having a luau to celebrate 190 years ( Father and 2 friends) and I have been searching for the right recipe for a Mai Tai. Any other menu suggestions are welcome. Aloha for now

  23. Denise
    February 13, 2012 @ 8:26 am

    Dave and I have been on a quest for the best Mai Tai. The best we’ve had were at the Princeville hotel at the bar on the beach (2002) and at the beach bar at Mauna Kea Beach hotel on the Big Island (last week). We arrived in Maui Sat night and I had found your recipe. We decided to get the ingredients and forgo the high prices at the restaurants/bars here. The Mai Tai’s were a hit with our friends last night. We had to hunt for orgeat syrup. We found Torani Almond flavored syrup at the Time store in Kihie in the coffee section. I know Torani sells Orgeat but this syrup had the same makings: almond and orange flower water. We forgot to get the mint leaves but the drink was still the best. Thanks for the great recipe.

    • Molly Jacobson
      February 13, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

      Hi Denise! So glad you liked the mai tai. Next time, try the mint – it takes it to a whole new level!

  24. Rick Davis
    October 29, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

    I take it you have not been to Hawaii! Because they don’t shake a Mai Tai.
    A good Hawiian Mai Tai is layed dark on top.

    • Molly Jacobson
      November 11, 2011 @ 9:59 am

      Hi Rick,

      I live on Maui 😉

      What constitutes a “real” mai tai has been the subject of discussion for decades, and people have even gone to court over the matter. A mai tai does usually involve some sort of float on the top, but what that float is can vary wildly. In my recipe, it’s mint oil. Because there are so many different juices and syrups involved, the main part of the drink is often shaken before it’s poured over the ice. Also see the Mai Tai contest we judged.

  25. Che
    September 24, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

    Molly, I was on Maui and drove down to Wailea and stopped at the Tommy Bahama restaurant and had what I consider the best Mai Tai ever.
    I wish I would have stopped and asked for the recipe. I am back on the mainland and have been trying to duplicate that recipe and haven’t been able to come close. If you are still on Maui please give it a try and please send me the recipe. Include what rums they actually use.

    • Molly Jacobson
      October 13, 2011 @ 11:41 am

      Aloha Che!

      Yes, Tommy Bahama rum is delicious – and that’s what they use in every drink they make, so I’m sure it’s what they used in your mai tai. You can get Tommy Bahama spirits at some more upscale liquor stores on the mainland. I’m sure their website will be helpful. Glad you enjoyed it!

      On a side note, my dearest childhood friend, Jack Terry, was just named Tommy Bahama Rumologist! He lives in Key West, FL, so I’m hoping they’ll send him to the Wailea store during his year-long gig with them. If you’re on island, you’ll be sure to hear about it. We’ll definitely be stopping by to sample his creations.

    • LC
      September 29, 2016 @ 4:19 pm

      This isnt a mai tai, or anything close to it.

      This is a *real* mai tai

      In your shaker pour 1 ounce each fresh lime juice, Rhum Clément VSOP Martinique rum, and Appleton Estate Extra dark Jamaican rum; 1/2 ounce orange Curacao; 1/2 ounce Latitude 29 Formula Orgeat; and 1/4 ounce sugar syrup. Add at least 2 cups of crushed ice, then shake well for around 10 seconds. Pour unstrained into a double old-fashioned glass. Sink your spent lime shell in the drink, and garnish with a mint sprig. (Drink pictured above.)

      • Molly Jacobson
        December 2, 2016 @ 12:01 pm

        And there you have a perfect example of the age-old argument about what constitutes a proper mai tai — although I don’t really see that much difference from my recipe 🙂 Looking forward to trying this version, although I’ll probably miss the fresh pineapple juice and guava — Hawaii style…

  26. Evanice
    September 1, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

    Hi Molly,
    Than you soooo much for the MaiTai recipe – It took me quite awhile to find the almond syrup but today for my surprize I found it. I live in Michigan so Guava juice is nothing that I can easily find but I did. So I made the MaiTai according to your recipe – It was the best MaiTai ever – even better that the one I love at Hula Grill in Kaanapali – Many thanks – better than that it is just having this MaiTai in Maui.
    Aloha !!!

  27. Kathie
    August 20, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

    We just returned from West Maui, and found that our favorite Mai Tai over the week was at Pacific’o. We liked the unblended colors, and the fact that it was served on the rocks, rather than over shave ice. Have you tried their version? On the other hand, we are heading out right now to see if we can find the ingredients for “Molly’s.” P.S. We loved having your book for our trip…you really helped us enjoy every meal.

  28. Goia
    April 19, 2011 @ 6:10 am

    We just got back from Maui last week and tried Mai Tais at both Lahaina Grill and Pineapple Grill. Lahaina Grill’s version was best on our trip, so thank you! What I am searching for is the Bloody Mary recipe from Pineapple Grill. It’s their secret, but secret’s can be found out, I’m hoping!

  29. Jim Liefeld
    November 19, 2010 @ 7:49 am

    Your Mai Tai recipe is great. I really liked it. BUT…I also want you to know about a recipe that is not on the menu at Haliimaile General Store and concocted by Wendy. She calls it the “Tai Mai”, and I have to say it is the most outstanding liquid I have ever put in my mouth. You have to ask for it, and she only works during the day.


  30. Maui Girl Swimwear
    September 24, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

    I have to say, the best one I have ever had was at the Pineapple Grill. Now I will be trying out your recipe tonight.

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