Mai Tai

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Mai Tai
IBA official cocktail
Trader Vic's 1944 Mai Tai.jpg
Primary alcohol by volume
ServedOn the rocks; poured over ice
Standard garnishpineapple spear, mint leaves and lime shell
Standard drinkwareOld Fashioned glass
IBA specified
PreparationShake all ingredients with ice. Strain into glass. Garnish and serve with straw.
dagger Mai Tai recipe at International Bartenders Association

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


Victor J. Bergeron claimed to have invented the Mai Tai in 1944 at his restaurant, Trader Vic's, in Oakland, California.[1] 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.[2]

The name was allegedly taken from maita'i, the Tahitian word for "good" or "excellence", although the drink is usually spelled as two words, sometimes hyphenated or capitalized.[3][4]


Most current recipes for Mai Tais based on Trader Vic's 1944 recipe include rum, lime juice, orgeat syrup, and orange liqueur (typically orange curaçao). Variants may include orange and grapefruit juices, bitters, grenadine, falernum, and so on. Various books from Victor Bergeron described using rum from Jamaica as well as from Martinique, which in modern usage is a Rhum Agricole. As noted in Smuggler's Cove from Martin Cate and Rebecca Cate, the Martinique rums used by Bergeron in the 1950s were most certainly not agricole rums.[5]

Name Ingredients Method Glass Garnish
Mai Tai 60 ml Jamaican and Martinique Rums

25 ml Fresh Lime Juice

15 ml Orange Curaçao

15 ml Orgeat

3-4 Crushed Ice Cubes

Shaken Rock Glass Spent lime shell and mint sprig


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. ^ "The Origin of the Mai Tai", [1], via
  2. ^ Coulombe, Charles A. (2005). Rum: The Epic Story of the Drink That Conquered the World. Citadel Press. p. 258.
  3. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, third edition, s.v. mai tai
  4. ^ "maitai", Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
  5. ^ Cate, Martin (2016). Smuggler's Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press. p. 264. ISBN 978-1-60774-732-1.

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