These holiday mai tais with pineapple juice, cranberry, lime, rum, and clear Curacao are the perfect drink for Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and more! This is an easy, boozy, and festive cocktail that will give you holiday-in-Hawai’i vibes.

Two holiday mai tais with pineapple wedges and leaves on a white counter next to liqueur, ornaments, and pomegranate arils.

Sorry but I’m still not over our honeymoon in Curaçao. Especially because I came home with an entire suitcase of Senior & Co.’s liqueurs to play around with. One of the best parts of our trip was touring their distillery and taking a cocktail class with the sweetest teacher ever! We learned how to make all kinds of amazing cocktails but the mai tai may have been my favorite. We love a classic gal!

Another thing I loved about the timing of our trip was that a bunch of people had already their Christmas decorations up. There’s nothing like walking around in a bikini while admiring everyone’s holiday lights. So, in honor of our honeymoon and Curaçao and Christmas, here’s a little holiday mai tai situation for you. Let’s sip them and pretend we’re on vacation, ok?

Let’s talk about these holiday mai tais!

Let me start by saying that this holiday mai tai is inspired by the traditional drink. It’s definitely a bit sweeter and more ‘tropical’ than a typical mai tai. (Even though I still love the classic version!) This recipe was adapted from the drink I learned at the Senior & Co. cocktail class in Curaçao.

In this recipe, I’m adding some pineapple juice and pomegranate (or cranberry juice) for extra flavor and tartness. Also, I’m only using one type of rum but you could always add multiple types if you like. Again, this is not the traditional recipe but it is so good and perfect for adding sunshine to winter weather!

A bottle of Curacao liqueur on a white counter next to rum, a pineapple, limes, juices, and orgeat with palm leaves in the background.

The ingredients

To simplify this recipe (and because I don’t have three different types of rum on hand), I’m using just a handful of ingredients in this cocktail.

  • Light rum – I like Flor de Caña for mixing into cocktails. It’s affordable but really good in mixed drinks!
  • Orgeat – this is an almond syrup with notes of apricot and orange. It’s a staple in tiki drinks.
  • Simple syrup – you can use store-bought or homemade simple syrup.
  • Juices – fresh lime, pineapple, and pomegranate (or cranberry) juices. All unsweetened!
  • Curaçao liqueur – I’m lucky enough to have the legit stuff from Senior & Co., which I highly recommend. It’s way better than the knock-off versions and you can get it in the U.S.! I recommend clear or red – any of the other colors will affect the color of this drink!

How to make these cocktails

These holiday mai tais are beyond easy. Definitely the perfect cocktail for beginners!

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the white rum, orgeat syrup, simple syrup, lime, pomegranate, and pineapple juices, and Curaçao liqueur.
  2. Next, add ice and shake until the outside of the cocktail shaker is frosty, about 30 seconds.
  3. Lastly, strain the drink into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with pineapple wedges, pomegranate arils, lime halves, mint, and/or pineapple leaves.

How is this different from a classic mai tai?

There’s a debate whether the mai tai was originally created by Victor J. Bergeron of Trader Vic or Donn Beach of Don the Beachcomber but either way, the cocktail was invented in the 40s. A classic mai tai has just a handful of ingredients: rum, lime, orgeat, orange curaçao, and simple syrup.

It was in the 50s, when Hawai’i became a popular travel destination, that mai tais made their way over. When Bergeron was hired by local hotels as a bartending consultant, he started adding orange and pineapple juice to appeal to tourists. This is probably the style of mai tai you’ve sipped on vacation! Some recipes also call for multiple types of rum (light, dark, and/or spiced).

Cocktails for a crowd

If you want to make this cocktail for a crowd, you can make a batch in a pitcher! Just multiply the ingredients by however many servings you want and mix everything up. Don’t add ice or it will water down the cocktail! Pour the drinks over ice when you’re ready to serve. You can also mix everything up in a punch bowl if you want guests to serve themselves. Super easy!

A holiday mai tai on a white counter next to another cocktail, a bottle of Curacao, red ornaments, and pomegranate arils.

A make-ahead option

You can make holiday mai tais in advance if you want to make it for a party or the holidays! Just mix everything up in a pitcher or punch bowl, cover well, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Just don’t add ice or it’ll dilute the drink! Also, make sure to give it a really good stir before you serve the cocktails. The syrups sink to the bottom of the pitcher after sitting for a while.

Ingredient Variations

  • Rum – you can also use a medium-bodied or dark rum if you like an aged flavor. You could also use light rum and add a float of dark rum like some recipes do!
  • Orgeat – I recommend getting some orgeat but you can also use almond-flavored syrup in a pinch. If you’re allergic to nuts, try a nut-free version!
  • Juice – you can use either pomegranate or cranberry juice in this recipe. Cranberry will be tart and give you that vibrant red color. Pomegranate is sweeter and more ‘tropical’ but will give you a more orange cocktail.
  • Curaçao liqueur – you can use any orange liqueur here!

Tips & tricks

  • Make your own simple syrup, it’s way cheaper! To make your own, bring equal parts of sugar and water to a boil for 1-2 minutes. Pour the syrup into a bowl and cool completely before using.
  • Use 100% unsweetened juices. Juice cocktails have a bunch of added sugars and filler juices which will affect the flavor of holiday mai tais.
  • Garnish with mint and a spent lime for a traditional garnish. This is how the original creator did it to make it look like a palm tree on an island!
  • Use crushed ice if possible. It melts slowly and dilutes the drink properly! Also, make sure to fill the shaker – if you don’t add enough, the ice will melt and over-dilute the cocktail.
Two holiday mai tais on a white table next to a bottle of liqueur, Christmas decorations, and pineapple slices with palm fronds in the forefront.

More holiday cocktails you’ll love!

Tea Hot Toddy with Ginger
The Best Gløgg (Norwegian Mulled Wine)
Eggnog White Russians
Cadillac Cranberry Margaritas
Winter Sangria with Pears & Pomegranate

If you make this recipe, I would love it if you left a star rating and review! I read every single comment and love hearing what you think about my recipes. Thank you for supporting Sunday Table!


A holiday mai tai on a white counter next to a bottle of liqueur, ornaments, and pomegranate arils.
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Holiday Mai Tais

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 5 mins
These holiday mai tais have ultimate Christmas-in-Hawaii vibes. They are made with rum, lime, orgeat, pineapple, pomegranate, and Curaçao liqueur for a simple, festive, and uber delicious cocktail! You can also make them in a pitcher for a crowd – great for Christmas or New Year's Eve!

Ingredients

Single Cocktail

  • 1 1/2 oz light rum
  • 1/2 oz orgeat syrup
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz lime juice, freshly-squeezed
  • 1 oz pomegranate or cranberry juice, unsweetened
  • 1 oz pineapple juice, unsweetened
  • 1/2 oz clear Curaçao liqueur
  • Mint, pineapple, halved limes, pomegranate arils, etc., for serving (optional)

Pitcher Cocktail (8 drinks)

  • 1 1/2 c light rum
  • 1/2 c orgeat syrup
  • 1/4 c simple syrup
  • 1/2 c lime juice, freshly-squeezed
  • 1 c pomegranate or cranberry juice, unsweetened
  • 1 c pineapple juice, unsweetened
  • 1/2 c clear Curaçao liqueur
  • Mint, pineapple, halved limes, pomegranate arils, etc., for serving (optional)

Equipment

  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Jigger
  • Pitcher or punch bowl (for a crowd)

Instructions 

Single Cocktail

  • Add the rum, orgeat syrup, simple syrup, lime juice, pomegranate or cranberry juice, pineapple juice, and Curaçao liqueur to a cocktail shaker.
  • Fill the shaker with crushed ice, cover, and shake until the outside is frosty, about 30 seconds.
  • Strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with mint, pineapple, lime halves, pomegranate arils, etc. Enjoy!

Pitcher Cocktail

  • Add the rum, orgeat syrup, simple syrup, lime juice, pomegranate or cranberry juice, pineapple juice, and Curaçao liqueur to a pitcher or punch bowl. Cover and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.
  • Right before serving, remove the pitcher or punch bowl from the fridge. Stir it very well. (The syrup will sink to the bottom as it sits).
  • Pour or ladle the holiday mai tais over glasses of ice and garnish with mint, pineapple, lime halves, pomegranate arils, etc. Enjoy immediately.

Notes

Pomegranate juice will make for a sweeter, orange-ish cocktail. Cranberry juice will make a tarter, brighter red drink.
For a less sweet drink, omit the simple syrup.
Use dark rum or medium-bodied rum if you prefer. Or, use 1 oz. of light rum and add a 1/2 oz. dark rum float to the top!
Cuisine: American
Course: Drinks
Serving: 1cocktail, Calories: 241kcal, Carbohydrates: 25.4g, Protein: 0.2g, Sodium: 14mg, Potassium: 134mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 27.9g, Calcium: 10mg
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xo Sara Lynn

Song of the day: Christmas Island by Leon Redbone