Victor J. Bergeron claimed to have invented the Mai Tai in 1944 at his restaurant, Trader Vic’s, in California. Trader Vic’s rival, Don the Beachcomber, claimed to have created it in 1933 at his then-new bar named for himself (later a famous restaurant) in Hollywood. Don the Beachcomber’s recipe is more complex than that of Vic’s and tastes quite different.
The Trader Vic’s story of its invention is that the Trader (Victor J. Bergeron) created it one afternoon for some friends who were visiting from Tahiti. One of those friends, Carrie Guild, tasted it and cried out: “Maita’i roa ae!” (literally “very good!”, figuratively “Out of this world! The best!”)—hence the name.
Authentic Trader Vic’s Mai Tais
Source: Provided by Trader Vic’s to The Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai
The Original from 1944
• 2 oz of 17-year old J. Wray & Nephew Rum over shaved ice
• Juice of one lime
• 1/2 oz Holland DeKuyper Orange Curaçao
• 1/4 oz Rock Candy Syrup
• 1/2 oz French Garnier Orgeat Syrup
• Shake vigorously.
• Add a sprig of fresh mint and spent lime shell
The “Old Way” from 1997
• 1 oz (3 cl) Fine Jamaican Rum (15 or 8 year old)
• 1 oz Martinique Rum (St. James)
• 1 oz Dark Jamaican rum (15 or 8 year old)
• 1 oz Martinique Amber rum (St. James)
• juice from one lime (~3/4 ounce)
• 1/2 ounce Orange Curaçao
• 1/2 ounce Orgeat syrup
• 1/4 ounce rock candy (supersaturated simple) syrup
• Mix and serve as in the Original Formula
“Current” Mai Tai Formula
This recipe is what Trader Vic’s restaurants serve today:
• 1/4 Lime squeeze (drop in glass as garnish)
• 1/2 oz lemon juice
• 3/4 oz Trader Vic’s Mai Tai mix
• 2 oz Royal Amber Rum
• Garnish: maraschino cherry, pineapple, mint sprig
Shake all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into an old fashioned glass over crushed ice. Garnish with fruits and mint, and serve with a straw.
Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai
This version is much closer to what Don the Beachcomber served in his restaurants. It can be garnished with various fruits, as in the above recipe. Falernum is a spice and lime-based Caribbean liqueur/syrup with a very different taste from the Orgeat syrup used in the Maitai #1.
• 2 oz (or 1/4 cup) water
• 3/4 oz or 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 1 oz or 2 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
• 1 oz or 2 tablespoons sugar syrup
• 1 oz or 2 tablespoons dark rum
• 1-1/2 oz or 3 tablespoons golden rum
• 1/2 oz or 1 tablespoon Cointreau or triple Sec
• 1/4 oz or 1/2 tablespoon Falernum liqueur/syrup
• 2 dashes or scant 1/2 teaspoon Angostura bitters
• 1 dash or scant 1/4 teaspoon Pernod or other anisette-flavored pastis
Shake all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into a tall highball glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with fruits and serve with a straw.
The Warringtonian Mai Tai
• 2 oz orange juice
• 2 oz pineapple juice
• 1 oz Rose’s lime juice
• 1 oz dark rum
• 1 oz light rum
• 1/2 oz triple sec
• 1/2 oz grenadine
(aka the attempted Mai Tai.. happens in bars that do not carry Orgeat)
Fill a collins glass with ice. Add:
• ¾ oz. Light Rum
• ¾ oz. Dark Rum
• ½ oz. Amaretto
• ½ oz. Triple Sec
• ½ Orange Juice
• ½ Pineapple Juice
Lastly, add ½ oz. of Grenadine on top, it will sink to the bottom to create a layered look.
Grenadine is almost always heavier (more dense) than whatever beverage, alcoholic or not, you’re making. That being said, if you’d like a thin red layer at the bottom of your beverages add it last. It also helps if you let it slide down the glass, as opposed to just pouring it in.
O’Sheas Famous Mai Tai
• 3 Ounces Raspberry or Regular Vodka
• 3 Oz. Of Cranberry Juice
• 3 Oz. of Orange Juice
• 3 Oz. of Pineapple Juice
• 3 Oz. of All Natural 7-Up
1. Pour vodka over shaved ice
2. Add juices, stir with vodka in cocktail shaker
3. Strain or leave with ice.
• 2 Shots – Good Quality Spiced Rum
• 1 Shot – Cointreau
• 1 Shot – Orgeat Syrup
• Splash – Agave Syrup
• 1/2 Lime – Juice
• 2-3 Sprigs Mint
• Mulled Pineapple (Optional)
Glass: Low Ball Glass
Pre-cool the glass with ice. Add all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker including the mint (mint must bruise with ice). Shake vigorously and pour into the glass over ice.
Samurai Steve’s Iowa Mai Tai
• 1 oz white rum (Paramount or better)
• 1 oz spiced rum (Captain Morgan or better)
• 1 oz orange rum (Bacardi O or better)
• 1 oz Malibu rum
• 1 oz Sour mix
• 1/2 oz Grenadine
• 4 oz Pineapple Juice
• 2 oz Orange Juice
• 1 Glass with Ice
• 1 Swirly straw or tiny umbrella
1. Mix rums into glass with ice
2. Add Pineapple and Orange juices
3. Top with Sour Mix and Grenadine
4. Add swirly straw or tiny umbrella
Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas Recipe
Very close to the original recipe.
• 1 1/4 oz Appleton Jamaican rum
• 1 1/4 oz Mount Gay Eclipse rum
• 1/2 oz orange curacao
• juice of 1 1/2 fresh lime
• 1/2 oz orgeat syrup (almond syrup)
• 1/2 oz rock candy syrup (2 parts sugar, 1 part water, boil until syrup)
• Splash of Grenadine to achieve appropriate color.
In an ice filled mixing glass add above ingredients minus the appleton: shake until well-blended, strain into an ice filled 16oz glass or cup and float the appleton on top. Garnish with spent lime shell, mint spring and pineapple spear.
Fuji & Jade Garden (State College, PA – 2010) Recipe
A slight tweak on the original recipe. The parenthetical ingredients hint at how this version of the Mai Tai evolved.
• 3/4 oz Cruzan Estate Light rum
• 3/4 oz Cruan Guava rum
• 1/2 oz Trader Vic’s Macadamia liqueur (or 3/4 oz Amaretto)
• 1/2 oz DeKuyper triple sec (or Cointreau)
• 1/2 oz Nellie & Joe’s lime juice (or fresh)
• 1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
• 3/4 oz Zaya 12-yr Trinidad rum [floater]
Glass: 12-oz Rocks Glass (aka Double Old-fashioned glass)
In an ice-filled mixing glass add the first six of the above ingredients. Shake until well-blended, then pour into a 12oz rocks glass. Top with Zaya 12-yr rum as a floater. Garnish with fresh mint, orange slice and/or a pineapple spear.
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