Mai Tai – The Perfect Drink For Your Retro Tiki Bar

Mai Tai at the Mai Kai Tiki Bar In Fort Lauderdale
Mai Tai at the Mai Kai Tiki Bar In Fort Lauderdale

There’s nothing finer than sipping an exotic tropical drink under the palms. One of the most popular (and fun) drinks for over 70 years has been the Mai Tai, a rum and juice drink with an interesting past.

There are a few variations on this classic Tik-style drink. A little research opened up some interesting facts about it, too. Here are two of the the most popular recipes I could find.

Common Bar Mai Tai (not the original) Ingredients:
• 1 1/4 ounces Jamaican rum
• 1/2 ounce triple sec
• 1/4 ounce orgeat (almond syrup)
• 3/4 ounce sweet and sour mix
• 3/4 ounce orange juice
• 1/2 ounce Meyer’s rum (floated)
• Cracked or crushed ice

Or, for a lighter, more original-tasting cocktail:

• 2 oz. Jamaican rum
• 1/2 oz. orgeat syrup
• 1/4 oz. simple syrup
• 1/2 Curacao
• juice of one whole lime

Throw everything except the dark rum and ice into a shaker, then add the ice so the shaker is half full. Shake it up, strain into a fancy cocktail glass, and float the dark rum on top. Garnish with a mint sprig and a plastic sword through a piece of fresh pineapple, an orange slice and a Maraschino Cherry. Top with a little paper umbrella.

The almond syrup can be found at most groceries stores along with vanilla extract, anywhere they sell coffee flavorings.

The History of the Mai Tai & The Original Recipe
According to the official Trader Vic’s site, the Mai Tai was invented by owner Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron in 1944:

“In 1944, after success with several exotic rum drinks, I felt a new drink was needed. I thought about all the really successful drinks; martinis, manhattans, daiquiris …. All basically simple drinks.

I was at the service bar in my Oakland restaurant. I took down a bottle of 17-year-old rum. It was J. Wray Nephew from Jamaica; surprisingly golden in color, medium bodied, but with the rich pungent flavor particular to the Jamaican blends. The flavor of this great rum wasn’t meant to be overpowered with heavy additions of fruit juices and flavorings. I took a fresh lime, added some orange curacao from Holland, a dash of Rock Candy Syrup, and a dollop of French Orgeat, for its subtle almond flavor. A generous amount of shaved ice and vigorous shaking by hand produced the marriage I was after. Half the lime shell went in for color … I stuck in a branch of fresh mint and gave two of them to Ham and Carrie Guild, friends from Tahiti, who were there that night. Carrie took one sip and said, “Mai Tai – Roa Ae”. In Tahitian this means “Out of This World – The Best”. Well, that was that. I named the drink “Mai Tai”.

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