The ingredient that makes a Mai Tai a Mai Tai is orgeat, an almond syrup. However a lot of bars cheat and use amaretto- an almond liqueur- instead.
Amaretto is the generic name for almond liqueur, and there are many brands on the market including Luxardo, Bols, Disaronno, and DeKuyper. Many brands also cheat and don’t real almonds in their formulations, but instead apricot kernels that taste surprisingly almond-like. Disaronno is a particularly fruity version used in this drink developed by Willy Shine of the bar 1534 in New York.
Shine hasn’t created a Mai Tai variation (a real Mai Tai should never have pineapple) but you can see the tropicality of the drink in its use of pineapple juice along with the amaretto. Instead of rum, Shine calls for cognac, which gives the drink a deeper flavor and makes it appropriate to serve it up instead of on the rocks, and all year-round.
The cocktail has a nice pineapple-brandy body and the amaretto shows its fruity aspect in the mouth and its nuttiness in the finish. The drink calls for fresh pineapple juice but the canned stuff works too. You just won’t have the pineapple leaves around afterward for garnish.
By Willy Shine of 1534 in New York
1.5 fl. oz. Cognac
1 fl. oz. Disaronno Amaretto
2 fl. oz. Fresh Pineapple juice
.25 fl. oz. Fresh Lime juice or Lemon juice
Pineapple Leaf for Garnish
Shake all ingredients with ice and then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a pineapple leaf.