Bitter Mai Tai

Jeremy Oertel | Brooklyn, NY

Perhaps the most riffed-upon cocktail in the tiki canon, the Mai Tai serves as the inspiration for Jeremy Oertel’s decidedly bitter spin. Intrigued by a version he encountered that used Angostura bitters in place of rum, Oertel takes his bitter iteration in a different direction, incorporating red-hued Campari. A measure of funky Jamaican rum provides extra fortification in this version that has become a staple of Brooklyn bar Dram, where Oertel first created it.

Reprinted with permission from Easy Tiki: A Modern Revival with 60 Recipes, by Chloe Frechette, copyright © 2020. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Photographs copyright © 2020 by Lizzie Munro.


Serving: 1

  • 1 1/2 ounce Campari
  • 3/4 ounce aged Jamaican rum, preferably Smith & Cross
  • 1/2 ounce orange curaçao
  • 3/4 ounce orgeat (see Editor's Note)
  • 1 ounce lime juice

Garnish: mint bouquet

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled, about 10 seconds.
  2. Strain into a large rocks glass over crushed ice.
  3. Garnish with mint sprig.
Editor's Note

300 grams raw almonds (about 3 1⁄2 cups/ 1⁄2 pound)
Water, as needed

Put the almonds in a bowl and add water to cover. Set aside to soak overnight. Drain the water, then weigh the almonds. Transfer them to a blender and slowly add an equal weight of fresh water while the blender is running on slow, for about 1 minute. Increase to high speed, until the mixture is opaque. Strain through a nut milk bag or a fine- mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Weigh the strained milk. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add an equal weight of sugar. Heat over medium, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.