We sure do love a yummy Mai Tai around here– and, of course, there are so many variations you can create with this classic cocktail. But today, we’re swapping out one specific ingredient in this classic tiki cocktail: Grand Marnier orange curaçao for the traditional Cointreau triple sec.

Mai Tai tropical cocktail with simple syrup, 1 ounce dark rum, 3/4 ounce lime juice fresh, and a sprig of mint

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Usually, Mai Tai ingredients include Cointreau or generic triple sec. But if you only have Grand Marnier in your liquor cabinet, you can still make this delicious drink. It just takes a small, easy adjustment, and you’ll have yourself a tropical rum cocktail that is pretty similar to the original.

Besides this small change, we’ll still be using rum, fresh lime juice, and orgeat syrup. Let’s refresh our memories with a classic Mai Tai recipe:


topical drink with fresh pineapple and 1 ounce white rum by alexandra tran via unsplash

Photo by Alexandra Tran via www.unsplash.com



If you’re not super sure what the difference is between Cointreau and Grand Marnier, we have a series of awesome articles to guide you, so make sure to check those out to understand how to use these French orange liqueurs.

Basically, it comes down to these orange liqueurs being different types of triple sec: Cointreau is more standard while Grand Marnier is made with aged cognac and is therefore slightly sweeter and heavier, known as a curaçao style.

This is the main difference you’ll notice in cocktails and the reason you can’t simply interchange these liqueurs for each other without tweaking your recipe.


bottle of Grand Marnier on a table

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OK, let’s get start shaking, shall we? Here is our Mai Tai recipe with Grand Marnier instead of Cointreau. Our resident bartender, Rob Harrah, has amped up the original recipe above with two kinds of rum (it’s a strong drink!) and more tropical goodness through pineapple juice.

Here’s what he had to say about making this cocktail with Grand Marnier:

“This recipe changes with the addition of Grand Marnier in a couple of ways:

  • I was pleasantly surprised by this cocktail! The rum combined with cognac, the pineapple with the orange, and the nuttiness from the cognac and orgeat all played so well together. It did make the cocktail seem a bit heavier– but in a good, almost tiki-like, dessert-like way.
  • The GM brings a little more weight and ABV to the cocktail, which is why I dropped it from your traditional 1 oz to ¾ oz. I didn’t have to adjust much else because this cocktail already has a fair amount of brightness and acidity to help offset the Grand Marnier.”

Definitely let us know in the comments how you like this one and which Mai Tai cocktail recipe you prefer!

Mai Tai with 2 ounce dark rum, 1 ounce fresh lime juice, 1 ounce orange juice, 1/2 ounce rich simple syrup, 1 ounce orgeat in a double rocks glass

Mai Tai with Grand Marnier

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Course: Drinks


  • 1 oz Light Rum
  • 1 oz Dark Rum
  • 1/4 oz Grand Marnier
  • 3/4 oz Lime Juice
  • 3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 1/4 oz Orgeat Syrup


  • Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Shake well to chill, dilute, and mix.
  • Pour (unstrained) into a lowball glass or hurricane glass with crushed ice.
  • Garnish with a "squeezed" lime half and a sprig of mint leaves, cocktail cherries, or fresh pineapple slice.

About Melanie Tornroth

A former English teacher, Melanie optimistically embraces the struggle that is work-from-home parenthood as the in-house writer for A Bar Above. When not responding to “Mom” and writing articles for ABA, she also runs Goodnickels Photography, loves to cuddle her cats, and is perfecting the art of keeping her pandemic “fermentation babies” alive.