No cocktail is easier to mess up than a Mai Tai — and yet the drink is so incredibly easy to make, there’s really no reason to have to drink some screwed-up version of it. You don’t need pineapple juice, and for God’s sake you don’t need orange juice. Nor do you need to bother with four kinds of rum, grenadine, or maraschino cherries.
The way we make it here (a slight variation on Martin Cate’s standard) it takes just four ingredients and offers that huge rush of almond flavor, tempered with citrus, that you expect. If you find the almond influence to be too strong, sub in a little sugar syrup for some of the orgeat, but I think this way drinks the best. As for orgeat, use whatever brand floats your boat — but good old Torani syrup fits the bill here perfectly.
The Drinkhacker Mai Tai
2 oz dark rum (the best you have)
3/4 oz lime juice
1/2 oz orgeat
1/2 oz triple sec
Shake ingredients with crushed ice and pour the whole shebang into an old-fashioned glass (do not strain). Garnish with the spent, overturned shell of the lime and a mint spring. As Cate has noted, the lime and mint are meant to evoke a tropical island — though the drink itself does that job pretty well on its own.