Chai Tai

Let me introduce you to my new best friend. I'm calling it the "Chai Tai"; the interesting, spicy, sophisticated cousin of the Mai Tai. This is a cocktail that transcends seasons, and will be just as delightful at the height of summer as it will be for Thanksgiving.

The Mai Tai has a very special place in my heart. Although the exact origin of the Mai Tai is heavily debated, there is rumor that the original Mai Tai was served at Tahiti Nui on the North Shore of Kaua'i. This is a bar Dave and I have been to many times, not least of all because the minister who married us plays guitar and sings there. (Side note: you know you've made good choices if your wedding minister plays gigs at a bar).

Anyways, back to the Mai Tai. Traditionally, a Mai Tai is a layered cocktail that involves white rum, pineapple juice, orange liqueur, and lime juice, with a dark rum float on top. But variations abound! Kalypso on Kaua'i includes a red guava layer in the middle, while Kilauea Bistro drizzles guava puree on the top. Tortilla Republic makes it a Hula Tai with the addition of macadamia nut liqueur.

Clearly, people love Mai Tai variations, and with good reason. This cocktail is just plain fun, plus it packs a punch! It's also a show-stopper with its colorful layers.

I'm taking the Mai Tai concept and giving it a spicy, cozy spin with chai-infused rum. This is my second cocktail collaboration with Wild Hart Distillery, and I'm so excited to share a unique drink involving this unique spirit. Their Chai Spiced Rum is infused with chai spices for a flavor that somehow straddles tropical islands and cozy winter tea. It's an impressive combination! Also check out our first recipe collaboration, this super-summery Watermelon Mint Gimlet.

The layers in this drink have flavors that complement the chai spices in a way that very subtly makes me think of cranberry sauce. The bottom layer (i.e. the most dense) is cranberry juice. The middle layer is a mixture of pineapple juice, Wild Hart Chai Spiced Rum, and a dash of orange liqueur. The top layer, the least dense, is the classic Mai Tai dark rum float. (If you hang out at Kalypso, you know the importance of ordering a "heavy float").

The thing I find most fun about this drink? It's truly a year-round flavor profile. People typically associate Tiki cocktails with summer, and by all means this is a great summer drink, especially with that pineapple! But the spices from the chai and the cranberry juice make it cozy enough for winter. This would even be an impressive Thanksgiving cocktail.

If you've never made layered drinks before, check out my Thanksgiving Eve Ginger Rum Fizz for tips, strategy, and step-by-step photos. It's not hard once you get the hang of it, but you might want to practice a couple times. Yes indeed, I'm giving you homework: practice layering your booze, it's an important skill.

Cheers! I hope this special, spicy, non-traditional Mai Tai brings you year-round Tiki cocktail joy!

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Wild Hart. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Rogue Brussel Sprout running.

Chai in a cocktail?!? Oh yes! It's such a fun flavor to add to drinks. I also use it in this Cherry Chai Old Fashioned, which is one of my favorite winter drinks.

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)
  • Few big ice cubes
  • 1 oz cranberry juice
  • 3 oz pineapple juice
  • 2 oz Wild Hart Chai Spiced Rum. Get your hands on this if you can! Otherwise, any amber-colored spiced rum will work. Don't try to use a dark rum because you won't be able to differentiate it from the top layer.
  • 0.5 oz orange liqueur. For you ginger fans, this would also work beautifully with a ginger liqueur such as Domain de Canton.
  • 1 oz dark rum
  • Thin slice of pineapple for garnish. Or an orange slice! Maybe a couple fresh cranberries for Thanksgiving?
Thoughts About Method
(These are just suggestions, be creative and make it yours)
  1. In a cocktail mixing glass, mix up the middle layer: pineapple juice, chai-spiced rum, and orange liqueur.
  2. Add a few big ice cubes to a glass. This needs to be done first so as not to disturb your layers!
  3. Pour the cranberry juice into the bottom of your glass, being careful not to splash on the sides.
  4. Very gently, float the pineapple-rum-orange mixture over the cranberry juice (see recommendations above and in various places online for ideas about how to do this).
  5. Finally, and again very gently, float about an ounce of dark rum over the top... or a bit more, I won't tell.
  6. Garnish with a slice of pineapple.


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