The Mai Tai

Ok it is 3:00 somewhere and we are into the Mai-Tai’s. They are a classic from our Grandparent’s era that has endured the test of time. As always with these classics there are a million copy-cat recipes that may be good in and of themselves but still leave the question of what made the original so endearing that it still remains on cocktail lists around the globe. Most often associated with Hawaii, the drinks origins actually were in California but by who and where is still debated today.

Don Beach (AKA Don the Beachcomber) takes claim to the drink as does Victor Bergeron (AKA Trader Vic). Bergeron claims that he invented the drink in 1944 for, Ham and Carrie Gould, friends of his visiting from Tahiti. When Carrie tasted the drink she exclaimed “Mai tai roa ae” which means “Out of This World, The Best” in Polynesian.

Bergeron (Trader Vic) mixed aged rum, orange Curacao, rock candy syrup and Orgeat syrup (almond) with lime juice. His concoction is simplistic and is mixed to showcase the rum instead of masking it with layers of fruit juices.

Don the Beachcomber’s version was made with dark and light rums, lime, bitters, Pernod, grapefruit juice, Falernum and Cointreau. His drink is certainly more exotic and complicated but less resembles what the drink has morphed into today.

So while we will give Don the Beachcomber credit for his contribution of the Zombie Cocktail, we offer you Trader Vic’s Mai-Tai cocktail recipe today as our favorite assemblage of ingredients between the two recipes.

The Mai-Tai

  • 2 oz. 17-year-old Jamaican Rum – (In this day and age we doubt it but try to use the best dark rum you can afford)
  • 1/2 oz. Orgeat (almond syrup Amaretto will do in a pinch)
  • 1/2 oz. Orange Curacao (you have to use the real deal here, triple sec is NOT the same)
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/4 oz. rock candy syrup (or simple syrup)
  • lime slice for garnish
  • sprig of mint for garnish

Shake ingredients and pour into an ice-packed glass.  Garnish with lime slice, sprig of mint and edible orchid flower…or anything that inspires you!