Chai Tai


(Note: this post was originally published on July 19, 2020. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)

Mai Tai Love

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 involves rum, orange curacao, fresh lime juice, and orgeat (which is a sweet, bitter, and nutty almond syrup of sorts). However, it's rarely made in the classic sense now. Today, the Mai Tai is generally interpreted as 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.

Mai Tai + Chai???

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! Don't forget to check out my Watermelon Mint Gimlet, which uses Wild Hart's gin.

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.

Let's Talk Ingredients

Here's what you'll need for this cocktail, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.

  • Cranberry juice
  • Pineapple juice
  • Chai Spiced Rum. Get your hands on this rum from Wild Hart if you can! Otherwise, any amber-colored spiced rum will work (although your flavor profile will be less chai-like). Don't try to use a dark rum because you won't be able to differentiate it from the top layer.
  • Orange liqueur. For you ginger fans, this would also work beautifully with a ginger liqueur such as Domain de Canton.
  • Dark rum
  • Garnishes. I like to use a thinly-cut pineapple slice. Orange slices could be pretty too, especially for winter. Maybe a couple fresh cranberries for Thanksgiving?

Closing Thoughts

If you've never made layered drinks before, I hope this one will convince you to give them a try. They're just so darn fun! 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.

This cocktail really has it all: sweet flavors, warming spice flavors, tropical vibes, cozy vibes, beautiful colors, and a big wow factor. I think it will be a big hit whenever and however you end up serving it.

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

Share It!

It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.

Suggested Pairings

Tropical Guacamole

Watermelon Nachos with Avocado Sauce

Blistered Shishito Pepper Salad

Tropical Pad Thai Salad

No-Cook Rainbow Black Bean Salad

Disclosure: I received free product from Wild Hart Distillery. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Rogue Brussel Sprout running.

Chai Tai

This delightfully complex Mai Tai riff is tropical yet also cozy, balancing pineapple with warming chai-spices. Thanks to these diverse flavors, it's perfect for sipping year-round!



  • Few big ice cubes
  • 1 oz cranberry juice
  • 3 oz pineapple juice
  • 2 oz Chai Spiced Rum
  • 0.5 oz orange liqueur
  • 1 oz dark rum
  • Thin slice of pineapple for garnish


  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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Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you make this recipe? Did you make substitutions? How did you serve it? Any helpful tips? Please share your thoughts, since these insights are really useful to both me and to other readers.

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