The Ultimate Mai Tai

The Ultimate Mai Tai is the name for the house Mai Tai recipe at Ultimate Mai Tai Headquarters. The recipe features four heavy and funky rums, gaining notoriety online and is even on the menu at some tiki bars.  Steve the Bartender calls this “a Mai Tai for Mai Tai lovers.” And Derek from Make and Drink says “This is something you level up to. It is as good of a Mai Tai as you’re ever going to have.” Elevated Craft calls this a “killer blend of rums.”

The Origin

I wanted to have a custom house rum blend for entertaining guests, and I thought four rums at ½ oz each could be a way to make a distinct blend and a unique offering. I’m based in Fremont, California around 25 miles from the Mai Tai’s original home of Oakland. So, this was originally called the “Fremont Mai Tai.” The four original rums circa 2017 were Appleton Reserve, El Dorado 12, Koloa Dark, and Denizen Merchant’s Reserve.

By 2019, I had tasted a lot more rums and decided I wanted to move away from the added flavorings in the Koloa and the added sugar of that period’s El Dorado 12 (the amount of sugar is greatly reduced in more recent bottlings). So, I decided to switch up up the four rum blend.

The Four Rum Ultimate Mai Tai Blend

I’d seen a lot of places combine Appleton 12 and Smith & Cross Jamaican rums. Appleton 12 is a blended rum with rich aging notes, where Smith & Cross is a heavy and funky pot-still rum issued at 57% ABV. For the other two rums I chose two readily available rums from Planteray (Plantation): Xaymaca Special Dry Jamaican rum and OFTD, a 69% ABV behemoth with rums from Guyana, Barbados, and Jamaica.

Xaymaca was chosen to add more Jamaica pot-still rum to the blend, with ester/cogener levels that are in between Appleton and Smith & Cross. The OFTD is a rich Demerara-style rum with a high ABV which was something I was looking for as well.

The first Ultimate Mai Tai with Four Rums, mid-2019

I put these four rums together and thought the blend was fantastic, and the combined ABV is just over 50% so it is plenty boozy. I subsequently tried a few other blends but nothing ever beat it so I stopped experimenting.

The Ultimate Mai Tai Rum Blend is equal parts of:

  • Appleton 12 Rare Casks Jamaica Rum
  • Smith & Cross Jamaica Rum
  • Planteray (Plantation) Xaymaca Special Dry Jamaica Rum
  • Planteray (Plantation) O.F.T.D. Overproof Artisinal Rum

If you pre-blend these at home you can use a leftover 1 liter bottle to make the measuring easier than if you used a leftover 750 ml bottle.

The Ultimate Mai Tai Rum blend is used in other recipes such as in the Banana Mai Tai and the Ultimate Navy Grog.

This rum blend worked great with the rest of my preferred Mai Tai ingredients and recipe. In addition to 2 ounces of rum, I used ½ ounce of my preferred Orgeat, Latitude 29 and ¼ ounce of a rich Demerara Syrup. My preferred Orange Curacao was the Ferrand Dry Curacao, though in subsequent years I’ve substituted Clement Creole Shrubb that compliments things in the same way.

The Recipe

Ultimate Mai Tai by Kevin Crossman (2019)
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
½ oz Orgeat (Latitude 29)
¼ oz Demerara Syrup (BG Reynolds or Liber)
½ oz Orange Curacao (Ferrand Dry Curacao or Clement Créole Shrubb)
½ oz Appleton 12 Rum
½ oz Smith & Cross Rum
½ oz Planteray (Plantation) OFTD Rum
½ oz Planteray (Plantation) Xaymaca Rum
Shake with crushed ice and pour into a double old-fashioned glass. Fill with more crushed ice and then garnish with Mint Sprig and spent Lime shell.

The Ultimate Mai Tai Served in Tiki Bars

Ultimate Mai Tai at The Kon-Tiki Oakland (2019)

The first reference to this recipe as “The Ultimate Mai Tai” was in December 2019 when I completed the Expedition rum list at The Kon-Tiki in Oakland. I worked with the staff to have a list of drink specials for the evening and my Mai Tai was one of the offerings.

Subsequently, Kon-Tiki bartender Terry Six made me an Ultimate Mai Tai at his going away event and it was to this date the very best Mai Tai I’ve ever had.

Mai Tai – Ultimate at The Royal Tot in Charlotte (Winter/Spring 2023)

This premium Mai Tai appeared on the menu at The Royal Tot in January 2023. This is the first bar to feature my Ultimate Mai Tai blend on the regular menu, beating Tiki Tom’s which announced it was coming but hadn’t yet released their new menu.

Reddit user JenTiki said “I can honestly say the only better Mai Tai I’ve ever had was at Smugglers Cove (and I’ve had a lot of Mai Tais).

The Royal Tot closed in May 2023 but reopened in a different format in July 2023 with the Ultimate Mai Tai no longer on the menu.

The Ultimate Mai Tai at Tiki Tom’s in Walnut Creek (2023-present)

Tiki Tom’s added the Ultimate Mai Tai to their new menu in February 2023. They attribute the recipe and are using the Ultimate Mai Tai rum blend. 

Ultimate Mai Tai Videos