Mai Tai History, Facts, and Lore
In 1944, after success with several exotic rum drinks, I felt a new drink was needed. I was at the service bar in my Oakland restaurant. I took down a bottle of 17-year-old Jamaican J. Wray Nephew rum, added fresh lime, some Orange Curaçao from Holland, a dash of Rock Candy Syrup, and a dollop of French Orgeat, for its subtle 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”.
Did You Know…
In Tahiti, Mai Tai is pronounced “May Tay”.
We’ve been saying it wrong for almost 80 years!
Mai Tai Recipe
- 2 ounces of 17-year-old J. Wray Nephew Jamaican Rum
- ½ ounce Holland De Kuyper Orange Curaçao
- ½ ounce French Garnier Orgeat
- ¼ ounce Rock Candy Syrup
- Juice from one whole lime
Hand shake and garnish with ½ of lime shell, sprig of fresh mint
Mai Tai Goes Hawaiian
In 1953, Trader Vic took the Mai Tai to the Hawaiian Islands, where he was asked by the Matson Steamship Lines to formalize drinks for the bars at their Royal Hawaiian, Moana and Surfrider Hotels.
Mai Tai Rum
His eldest son, Vic Jr. mentioned the fact that most rum drinks are made with a variety of several blends of rum. The thought occurred to them, why not instead of the customer having 4 or 5 bottles of rum, let us blend it for them and call it ‘Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Rum’
In 2009, a proclamation was made naming August 30th the official Mai Tai Day in the city of its birth, Oakland California.
The Mai Tai Recipe Today!
- 2 ounces Trader Vic’s Royal Amber Rum
- Squeeze ½ Lime (Save Spent Shell)
- ¾ ounce Lime Juice
- ¼ ounce Trader Vic’s Rock Candy Syrup
- ½ ounce Trader Vic’s Orgeat Syrup
- ½ ounce Orange Curaçao
Shake with crushed ice and pour into Mai Tai Glass
Garnish with spent lime shall and mint sprig