Mai Tai

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This article is about the cocktail. For the pop-act, see Mai Tai (music group). For the pro wrestler, see Afa Anoaʻi Jr. For the martial art, see Muay Thai. For the suburb of Nelson, New Zealand, see Maitai, New Zealand.
Mai Tai
IBA Official Cocktail
Mai Tai.jpg
Type Cocktail
Primary alcohol by volume
Served On the rocks; poured over ice
Standard garnish

pineapple spear, mint leaves and lime peel

Standard drinkware
Highball Glass (Tumbler).svg
Highball glass
IBA specified ingredients*
Preparation Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into glass. Garnish and serve with straw.
* Mai Tai recipe at International Bartenders Association

The Mai Tai is an alcoholic cocktail based on rum, Curaçao liqueur, orgeat syrup and lime juice, associated with Polynesian-style settings.

"Maita'i" is the Tahitian word for "good"; but the drink is spelled as two words, sometimes hyphenated or capitalized.[1][2]


Victor J. Bergeron claimed to have invented the Mai Tai in 1944 at his restaurant, Trader Vic's, in California.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5]

In 1953 the Matson Navigation Company (now Matson, Inc.) commissioned Victor Bergeron to create a drink for their new Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Victor then made a variation on the Mai Tai recipe adding pineapple juice; this variant is still served today at the hotel.[citation needed]


There are many recipes for Mai Tais. Eleven of them, including three versions of Trader Vic's, as well as the recipe of Don the Beachcomber, can be found at Wikibooks Mai Tai.

Classic Mai Tai

45 ml aged Jamaican rum
15 ml Orgeat syrup
15 ml Triple Sec
30 ml fresh lime juice

Served, garnished, over crushed ice.


The Mai Tai became such a popular cocktail in the 1950s–60s that many restaurants, particularly tiki-themed restaurants or bars, served them. The Mai Tai was also prominently featured in the Elvis Presley film Blue Hawaii.

Today, the Mai Tai is synonymous with Tiki culture both past and present.

As of 2008, Trader Vic's Restaurant chain began to open small establishments called Mai Tai Bars that primarily serve cocktails and pupus (appetizers).


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, third edition, s.v. mai tai
  2. ^ "maitai", Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
  3. ^ "The Origin of the Mai Tai", [1], via
  4. ^ Coulombe, Charles A. (2005). Rum: The Epic Story of the Drink That Conquered the World. Citadel Press. p. 258. 
  5. ^ "Mai Tai". Bartenders Database. 2009-10-21. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 

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