Raise a Mai Tai

The Mai Tai turns 75 this year!

On August 30th, tiki enthusiasts will raise one in honor of this drink's timeless flavor around the world for Mai Tai Day.

This drink has been on a pretty wild ride since it's invention at Trader Vic's in California in 1944. Victor "The Trader" Bergeron was working the service bar at his Oakland restaurant, and creativity struck him. He took a bottle of 17-year old Jamaican J. Wray Nephew rum, added fresh lime, Orange Curaçao from Holland. A spent lime wedge and a little almond syrup finished it off.
Visiting friends from Tahiti were there that day. They took a sip and pronounced the new drink ... “Mai Tai-Roa Ae.” It roughly translates to “Out of this World."

“The 75th Anniversary of the Mai Tai is much more than a cocktail calendar moment, but a time for us to honor the man that created the influential brand that has stood the test of time," offers Rhett Rosen, CEO Trader Vic’s Worldwide. "The occasion also leads us into Trader Vic’s 85th anniversary that will take place this November."
If you can get to a Trader Vic's on August 30th, expect a wild celebration for the Mai Tai. Likewise, November will be a fabulous time to visit.

If you can't, we've got you covered too, with some wonderful Mai Tai variations from acclaimed bartenders around the U.S. and Canada, as well as the original classic recipe. 

A Classic Mai Tai

Courtesy of Shameful Tiki in Toronto & Vancouver Canada

1 oz. aged Jamaican rum

1 oz. aged Martinique rum

1/2 oz. orange curacao

1 oz. fresh lime juice

1/4 oz. sugar syrup

1/4 oz. orgeat syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake hard. Strain into a Rocks glass over crushed ice. Garnish with half a lime shell and sprig of mint.

Image Courtesy of BlogTo.com


The "Home" Classic

Courtesy of Jen Akin, at Rumba in Seattle

"The Mai Tai is one of the most iconic Tiki drinks, but there are so many different recipes floating around for this drink," says Akin. "Many people think of vacations, pineapple juice, grenadine, and a “dark rum” float when they imagine a Mai Tai. The original Trader Vic recipe calls for 17 Year Wray & Nephew, Orange curaçao, Lime, and orgeat. We use a blend of aged Jamaican rum and aged Rhum Agricole at the bar. For someone who wants to make the Mai Tai at home, I love using Appleton Estate 12 Year with  aged Agricole like JM Gold or Clement VSOP."

**Good thing our members got a great bottle from Clement! Scroll down to get an extra bottle (as well as recipes for another fine classic) in our Ultimate Daiquiri box. Tiki night at yours?

1 oz. Appleton 12 Year rum

1 oz. Clement VSOP rhum agricole

3/4 oz. fresh lime juice

1/2 oz. orgeat 

1/4 oz. orange curaçao 

1/4 oz. simple syrup (optional)

Garnish with a big, bright mint bouquet and an inverted lime shell and/or orchid. 

Jen Akin, at Rumba


Five Star Mai Tai 

Courtesy of Momofuku Noodle Bar and Bartender Haera Shin at Columbus Circle, NYC

"Chinese 5 Spice is the foundation of this Mai Tai variation, as it consists of spices that work superbly with rum and tropical flavors," says Shin.
Ten-To-One Dark Rum is just the right spirit to stand up to all of the tropical elements, as well as the spices. The spirit’s vanilla and toffee notes pair well with the macadamia nut liqueur. Moreover, the mandarin and blood orange are sweet and slightly bitter and are there to round out the pineapple."

1 1/2 oz. Ten To One Dark Rum

1/4 oz. Trader Vic's Macadamia Nut Liqueur

1/4 oz. Chinese 5 Spice-infused Tokki Black Soju*

1/2 oz. demerara syrup

1 oz. pineapple purée

1/2 oz. mandarin orange purée

1/2 oz. blood orange juice

1/2 oz. lime juice

Shake all ingredients and strain into a Rocks glass. Garnish with a large mint sprig, a dehydrated blood orange wheel and a fortune cookie.