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Mai Tai - Original Trader Vic's Formula (1944)

Base Spirit : Rum
A truely tropical drink whose very exotic taste transports your mind to the sun soaked beaches, clear blue waters and relaxed paradise of the Polynesian Islands. The origins of the Mai Tai date back to 1930's or 1940's depending on whose story is to be believed.
Victor J. "Trader Vic" Bregeron claims to have created the Mai Tai in 1944 at his Polynesian style restaurant Trader Vic's in Oakland, California. Initially given to a couple of friends from Tahiti, followed by a Tahitian cry of "Mai Tai - Roa Ae" meaning "Out of this world - The best" and so a new drink was born. His story continues that for several years the Mai Tai celebtrated local success in california before it was taken in 1953 to the Hawaiian Islands, where over the next couple of years its popularity spread to that of today. (Ref: Trader Vic's Website)
Despite having been credited as the founding father of Tiki restaurants and bars, there is far less suggestion that Don the Beachcomber was also responsible for creating the Mai Tai. Stating "Not true!" to the claim that Trader Vic had invented the Mai Tai, Donn Beach claimed that he had invented it in 1932 when he opened his first Beachcomber restaurant in Hollywood. The brief article of the Honolulu Advertiser of July 16th 1986 only continues with Donn stating that over the years his style of restaurants, drinks and ideas were copied. (Ref: Don the Beachcomber's Website)
Despite neither Donn or Victor appearing to provide nothing more than their word as proof, the consensus of most sources, including Wikipedia is that credit goes to Victor J. "Trader Vic" Bergeron with its creation. Irrespective of its origins, today the Mai Tai has taken on a life of its own with a number of variations and still remains one of the more popular cocktails.
  • 2 Measures of 17 Year Old J. Wray & Nephew Rum
  • 1/2 Measure of Holland DeKuyper Orange Curacao
  • 1/2 Measure of French Garnier Orgeat Syrup
  • 1/4 Measure of Trader Vic's Rock Candy Syrup
  • Juice of 1 Whole Lime
  • Shaved Ice
  • Half an empty Lime Shell to Garnish
  • Sprig of Mint to Garnish
  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Citrus Juicer
  • Collins Glass
  • Tall Drinking Straw
Using the Citrus Juicer, prepare the Lime Juice first, keeping 1 of the half Lime Shells for garnish. Once you have your lime juice, half fill the Cocktail Shaker with Shaved Ice and pour in the Rum, the Orange Curacao, the Rock Candy Syrup, the Orgeat Syrup, the Lime Juice, add the half Lime Shell and shake until the shaker becomes cold to the touch.
Pour the shaken mix into the Collins Glass and add a Sprig of Mint to garnish and add the Drinking Straw, before serving.
Over time it became more difficult to source the specific ingredients of the original Mai Tai and as such Trader Vic's changed the base recipe - See Below. For those looking to try and recreate this recipe as closely as possible, it is possible to source Trader Vic's Rock Candy Syrup from Trader Vic's online Shop. They also sell their own branded Orgeat Syrup which can be found in a number of Mai Tai recipes.