Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Tequila & Mezcal Cocktails

Tia Mia

This Mai Tai riff from Ivy Mix gets a kiss of smoke from mezcal.

Tia Mia cocktail served in a rocks glass with crushed ice and a lime wheel and mint garnish / Tim Nusog

The Mai Tai may be one of the most famous rum-based cocktails ever created. It has also been famously riffed on and tweaked over the years—and not always successfully. There are entire Reddit threads dedicated to the worst Mai Tai recipes found in the wild.

That said, as far as adaptable cocktails go, the Mai Tai is easier than most to alter due to its fairly straightforward ingredient list and recipe. Bartender Ivy Mix, co-owner of Leyenda in Brooklyn, New York, merged her passion for mezcal with this classic drink when she created the smoky, complex Tia Mia—an anagram of Mai Tai.

In 2010, influential bar maven Julie Reiner opened the Hawaiian-themed restaurant and bar, Lani Kai, in New York City, and the Tia Mia was Mix’s contribution to the drinks list—her first on a Reiner cocktail menu. Lani Kai closed after a two-year run, but when Reiner and Mix partnered on Leyenda, the Tia Mia went on the opening menu and has remained a staple ever since. The cocktail is also featured in Mix’s book, Spirits of Latin America.  

When Mix first started experimenting with this drink, she floated an ounce of mezcal atop a Mai Tai in place of the dark rum typically used. She eventually did away with the float altogether and swapped in a smoky mezcal and a funky Jamaican rum for the base. The orange curaçao, orgeat, and fresh lime juice hew to the traditional Mai Tai recipe, but the slightly modified proportions result in a drier, more complex drink. 


  • 1 ounce mezcal espadín

  • 1 ounce Jamaican rum

  • 1/2 ounce orange curaçao

  • ½ ounce orgeat

  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice

  • Garnish: mint sprig

  • Garnish: lime wheel

  • Garnish: edible orchid (optional)


  1. Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake until well chilled.

  2. Strain into a large rocks glass over crushed or pebbled ice.

  3. Garnish with lime wheel, mint sprig and orchid (optional).

What Is In a Traditional Mai Tai?

The Mai Tai may be the most famous cocktail with origins in the Tiki canon—and also the most maligned. Interpretations include a variety of juices and syrups that never existed in the original recipe, but we can’t blame anyone for these creative foibles. The Mai Tai recipe was heavily protected for nearly 30 years by the would-be creator of the famed drink, Victor J. Bergeron Jr.—better known as Trader Vic.

Bergeron claimed to have invented the drink at his California bar, Trader Vic’s, in the 1940s but the recipe didn’t appear in a cocktail book until the 1970s. The original Trader Vic’s Mai Tai featured Jamaica’s J. Wray & Nephew rum, orange curacao, rock candy syrup (a heavier, sweeter simple syrup), orgeat (almond) syrup, fresh lime juice, and a sprig of mint.

What is Orgeat?

Orgeat is a creamy, nutty syrup with complex aromatics—and it is an essential ingredient in many topical drinks. The typical orgeat recipe is made with almonds, sugar, orange blossom water, and a spirit, such as vodka or brandy, to fortify it. Orange blossom water may seem like an esoteric, hard-to-find ingredient, but it's easily accessible online and in many upscale food markets and Middle Eastern markets; you may even be able to get it in the international aisle at the supermarket. You can also make your own