The Mai Tai. Synonymous with beach vacations, tiki huts, and Hawaiian culture, the Mai Tai has become an iconic tropical drink. Believe it or not, the alcoholic beverage wasn’t actually invented in Hawaii or even in Tahiti as some might have thought. It was created in Oakland, California in 1944 by bartender and restaurant owner, Victor Jules “Trader Vic” Bergeron.
Victor was bartending at his restaurant, Trader Vic’s, when he decided to mix up something new for some friends visiting from Tahiti. He combined Jamaican rum, fresh lime juice, orange curacao, Rock Candy Syrup, and French Orgeat Syrup. Ice was added and the drink was garnished with lime and fresh mint. Victor passed the drink to his friends who took a sip and immediately exclaimed “Maita’i roa ae!” Meaning, “Out of this world! The best!”
It wasn’t until 1953 that the Mai Tai officially made its way to Hawaii and became the popular cocktail it is today. Made more famous by appearing in the film ‘Blue Hawaii’ with Elvis Presley, the drink has left a lasting impact and become a must-have for island vacationers.
Victor went on to franchise his tropical themed restaurants by opening one in Seattle, Washington, Hawaii and many other locations over the years. To this day, the legend of ‘Trader Vic’s’ lives on with 27 restaurants still in operation under various names.
While Trader Vic is commonly credited with inventing the Mai Tai, a competitor that went by the name Don the Beachcomber has also claimed to have created the esteemed cocktail. Born Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, Don the Beachcomber was also a restaurant owner who later made his mark on Hawaiian culture. You can learn more HERE!
The original “Trader Vic” Mai Tai
- 2 oz. 17-tear-old J. Wray Nephew Jamaican rum
- ½ oz. French Garnier Orgeat
- ½ oz. Holland DeKuyper Orange Curacao
- ¼ oz. Rock Candy Syrup
- Juice from one fresh lime
Shake with ice and garnish with lime and fresh mint.
Also check out these fun drink recipes perfected from great times with our Maui Wowi ‘ohana!
- 1 oz light rum
- 2oz pineapple juice
- 1 oz Blue Curacao
- 1oz Creame de Coconut
This looks pretty cool: Blend light rum with one cup ice in a blender at high speed. Mix blue curacao, pineapple juice, and cream of coconut. Pour rum slush into a glass and pour blue mixture on top to fill the glass. Decorate with the slice of pineapple and a cherry.
“Hawaiian Cowboy Margarita”
- 1 ounce pineapple juice
- 1 ounce orange juice (pulp free)
- 1 ounce margarita mix
- 1/2 ounce peach schnapps
- 1 ounce coconut rum
- 1 ounce rum
- 1 ounce gold tequila
Combine and pour over crushed ice.
- 2 oz Light Rum
- 1 oz Coconut Rum
- 1 oz Triple Sec
- 3 oz Pineapple Juice
- 1oz Orange Juice
Mix all over ice, add a splash of grenadine. Float Dark Rum on top and decorate with a pineapple wedge and cherries.