How to Make a Bitter Mai Tai for National Rum Day

Bartender Hanuman Welch shows us how to celebrate on this glorious holiday.

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  • All you need for an epic Rum Day is: Campari, Smith & Cross Jamaican rum, orgeat, Curaçao, and lime juice. And maybe a few coconut glasses, cocktail umbrellas, and bamboo straws.
  • Step 1: Fill a coconut shell glass with crushed ice.
  • Measure out 1 1/2 oz of Campari, and add it to your cocktail shaker.
  • Pour 3/4 oz Smith & Cross rum into the shaker.
  • Now, add 1/2 oz Curaçao.
  • Add 1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice.
  • And 1/2 oz orgeat (or almond syrup if you can't find orgeat).
  • Once all of your ingredients are in your cocktail shaker, start shaking that thing like it's National Rum Day and you're here to party. In other words, shake vigorously. This is a "dry shake", meaning there's no ice in the shaker.
  • Strain the cocktail over crushed ice.
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  • Now turn that luau music on and imbibe. And don't forget to smile big, because we're sure you'll be tanked in a matter of minutes.

All photos by Liz Barclay (@liz_barclay)

If, for some reason, you’re unaware that it’s National Rum Day, don’t you fret. Industry veteran Hanuman Welch, who has put in time at Maison Premiere and Prime Meats, is here to save the day with a fabulous Bitter Mai Tai recipe and tutorial.

The recipe for this Mai Tai variation comes from Jeremy Oertel, who bartends at Williamsburg’s Donna. This Tiki drink is boozy and sweet, like any great Mai Tai, but Oertel adds Campari which gives the cocktail a wonderful bitter note. He uses Smith & Cross Jamaican rum, which has ample caramel, spice, and tropical fruit notes, for a spicy kick.

So make a glass, a pitcher, a bucket, or fill up a bathtub with the lethal stuff, get your eye patch on, turn up the luau music, and start your holiday celebration off right.

Click through the slideshow for a step-by-step visual of how to make the fabulous Bitter Mai Tai. 

Bitter Mai Tai


1 1/2 oz Campari

3/4 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum

1 oz Lime juice

3/4 oz Orgeat

1/2 oz Curaçao


Shake all ingredients, strain over crushed ice, and garnish with mint. Oh, and be sure to play this song while you’re imbibing:

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