|IBA Official Cocktail|
|Primary alcohol by volume|
|Served||On the rocks; poured over ice|
|Standard drinkware||Highball glass|
|IBA specified ingredients*|
|Preparation||Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into glass. Garnish and serve with straw.|
Victor J. Bergeron claimed to have invented the Mai Tai in 1944 at his eponymous restaurant, Trader Vic's, in Oakland, 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.
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.
There are many recipes for Mai Tais. Eleven of them, including three different versions of Trader Vic's, as well as the recipe of Don the Beachcomber, can be found at Wikibooks Mai Tai.
The Mai Tai became such a popular cocktail in the 1950s and '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).
- "The Origin of the Mai Tai", , tradervics.com via archive.org
- Coulombe, Charles A. (2005). Rum: The Epic Story of the Drink That Conquered the World. Citadel Press. p. 258.
- Oxford English Dictionary, third edition, s.v. mai tai
- "maitai", Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
- "Mai Tai". Bartenders Database. 2009-10-21. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
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- Mai Tai links at DMOZ
- Tiki culture at DMOZ
- The Cocktail Spirit with Robert Hess - Video demonstration for making a proper Mai Tai