Mai Tai

Mai Tai.

The Mai Tai is a classic, and one can argue who invented it, with which recipe it has to be prepared and which rum is the right one. We have therefore taken a closer look at it.

45 ml Smith & Cross Jamaica navy strength rum
15 ml Wray & Nephew white overproof rum
30 ml lime juice
20 ml Meneau orgeat
10 ml Pierre Ferrand curaçao
Garnish: mint sprig

Preparation: Shaken and served in a large tumbler with usually crushed ice. We, however, use small ice cubes.

Alternatively and currently preferred by us:

60 ml Compagnie des Indes Jamaica Navy Strength rum
30 ml lime juice
20 ml Meneau orgeat
10 ml Hiebl Bitterorangengeist
2,5 ml sugar syrup (2:1)
(mint sprig)

Trader Vic and Don The Beachcomber

The Mai Tai can be considered one of the most famous and popular Tiki cocktails. Its invention is claimed by two bartenders: Victor Bergeron aka Trader Vic and Donn Beach aka Don the Beachcomber.

The tiki era was ushered in by Donn Beach, in 1933 after the end of Prohibition. His bar was set up as a South Seas paradise and within a very short time became a meeting place for Hollywood celebrities. [2] He claims to have invented the Mai Tai in 1933. This claim cannot be verified, but one may assume that he may have created a drink of this name. [1] [2] [5] [6] [18] However, his Mai Tai has a fundamentally different recipe from that of Trader Vic. One reads that the latter’s Mai Tai may have been based on another of Donn Beach’s drinks. Donn Beach’s “Q. B. Cooler” had similarities in taste to Trader Vic’s Mai Tai, but with the same taste profile, the recipe was fundamentally different. The recipe of the “Q. B. Cooler” for those interested: 4.5 cl Jamaican rum, 3 cl Cuban rum, 1.5 cl Cointreau, 1.5 cl Falernum, 2 dashes Pernod, 1 dash Angostura bitters, 3 cl grapefruit juice, 2 cl lime juice. Perhaps Trader Vic was trying to make the Q. B. Cooler, but perhaps not. In any case, there are no indications of this, [1] [2] [6] [18] so we read.

It is also sometimes read that Trader Vic’s Mai Tai remained unknown until 25 years after its creation, because the tiki bar owners kept their recipes top secret, and sometimes not even the bartenders knew which ingredients were used. [2] [18]

Trader Vic’s origin story of the Mai Tai

Some sources write that Trader Vic’s recipe for the Mai Tai only appeared in 1972 in a new edition of “Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Book”, other sources mention the year 1947 and his book “Bartender’s Guide”. [5] [6] [18]

If anyone has the book from 1947 or others by Trader Vic not listed in the recipe list, we would be very grateful for photos of the corresponding pages on the Mai Tai to clarify here when and where the recipe was published. Not only his recipes for a “Mai Tai” are interesting, but also those for the “Trader Vic Punch”, as explained below.

There Trader Vic reports:

Trader Vic (Victor Bergeron) around 1946.
Trader Vic (Victor Bergeron) around 1946. [26]

„In 1944, after success with several exotic rum drinks, I felt a new drink was needed. I thought about all the really suc­cessful drinks: Martinis, Manhattans, daiquiris . . . all basi­cally simple drinks. I was at the service bar in my Oakland restaurant. I took down a bottle of seventeen-year-old rum. It was J. Wray Nephew from Jamaica —  surprisingly golden in color, medium bodied, but with the rich pungent flavor particular to the Jamaican blends. The flavor of this great rum wasn’t meant to be overpowered with heavy additions of fruit juices and flavorings. I took a fresh lime, added some orange curaçao from Holland, a dash of rock candy syrup, and a dollop of French orgeat for its subtle almond flavor. I added a generous amount of shaved ice and shook it vigorously by hand to produce the marriage I was after. Half the lime shell went into each drink for color; and I stuck in a branch of fresh mint. I gave the first 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 Aé.” [NOTE: the correct spelling would be Maita’i] In Tahitian this means “Out of this world — the best.” Well, that was that. I named the drink “Mai Tai.”” [1] [2] [5] [6] [18] [25-262]

Trader Vic also wrote, „Anybody who says I didn’t create this drink is a dirty stinker“. He argued fiercely with Donn Beach about which of them had invented the Mai Tai, and legal disputes ensued. [18]

Which rum is the right one?

The 17-year-old Wray & Nephew is unfortunately no longer available. The Mai Tai was very popular, so Trader Vic bought up all the stocks, then resorted to a 15-year-old bottling until this rum was also used up. In the mid-fifties, the 15-year-old Wray & Nephew is said to have been stretched with other Jamaican rums, Red Heart and Coruba, and when the Wray & Nephew was used up, a blend of Jamaican and Martinican rum agricole is then said to have been used to approximate the original taste. [2] [5] [6] [25-262] But we will discuss later that the Martinican rum was not rhum agricole, but a rum traditionally made from molasses.

Around 2010, however, an old bottle of the original rum turned up and could be tested. Sean Muldoon, Bar Manager of the Merchant Hotel in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was one of the lucky ones to taste the Mai Tai with the original rum and writes: “The Mai Tai made with Wray & Nephew Rum, 17 years, cannot be compared to any other drink I have tasted. If a perfect spirit was designed for a particular drink, it was this one. The rum itself was extremely aromatic, rich, somewhat biting, dark, intense, rounded, syrupy, smoky – and was completely brought out by the other ingredients that went into the Mai Tai.” It is said that the Wray & Nephew rum was made exclusively by the pot still method and bottled at 77.2%. A pot still gives rum more body and a lot of pungent esters, which are balanced out with long barrel ageing. The cask adds caramel and vanilla notes. [2]

There are many opinions on what is the best substitute for the original rum. Suggestions include Appleton Gold 151, Appleton 30 years, Lemon Hart Demerara 151 or the Inner Circle Green Dot produced in pot still. Mixtures of different rums are also used. [2] But the Smith & Cross Navy Strength is also one of the recommendations. It contains exclusively pot still distillates of the Wedderburn and Plummer styles, with their aromas of exotic fruits and spices. It delivers elegance, aroma and complexity of a historic Jamaican rum of the late 19th and early 20th century. Although matured in oak barrels for only 1-3 years, it still makes a tasty Mai Tai. [3]

An analysis of 17-year-old Wray & Nephew is therefore interesting. In Trader Vic’s 1972 book, he first wrote that 17-year-old Wray & Nephew was used in the original. However, this rum had not been around for about 20 years at the time of publication. [18] [19]

What kind of rum was the 17-year-old Wray & Nephew? Many assume that it was a rum with more than 70% alcohol by volume. This opinion is supported by the fact that several bottles of this rum turned up at Appleton a few years ago, one of which ended up in the Merchant Hotel in Belfast. The bottles had – depending on which source you trust – an alcohol content of 75 vol% or 60 vol%, so it was an overproof rum. The origin of these bottles is unclear. Either a barrel is said to have been found, or a few bottles. But both variants raise questions: [19]

If a barrel was found, it was no longer a 17-year-old rum, but one over 70 years old. An alcohol content of 70 vol% would then be unlikely. It can also be assumed that the original 17-year-old Wray & Nephew was not a single-cask bottling, but rather a blend. Thus, the rum found would only be a part of the blend, would not correspond to the original rum and, moreover, would probably be very different in taste due to the long maturation in the barrel. However, if the contents of the barrel really do correspond to the original blend, the question inevitably arises as to why the blend should have been bottled in a barrel instead of in bottles and then forgotten. But as said, even then it would not be a 17-year-old rum, but a more than 70-year-old rum, since further maturation processes have taken place in the barrel. [19]

However, when bottles were found, the question would arise as to why the contents were pitch black. The original rum is described by Trader Vic himself as golden in colour. The 15-year-old Wray & Nephews was also clearly golden in colour. [19] It is conceivable that the contents of the bottle corresponded to the blend, but in undiluted form, and were therefore darker. This would mean, however, that the original rum could not have been an overproof rum. [19]

Maria Gorbatschova aptly comments on this topic on Mixology online. First, she describes how bottled wine changes over time. Under the heading “An original Mai Tai? Alas, no.” she then continues, “What about spirits? After all, by and large they use the same glass, the same bottle sizes and even the same closures. We know with absolute certainty that wine oxidises under these conditions in closed bottles. We also know that spirits can also be affected by oxidation. And yet, with spirits, closed bottles are sold to us as magical time capsules that preserve flavour for decades or even centuries. At least that is what is claimed, often in a careless aside, in numerous books and articles. So, in theory, you can buy a bottle of 17-year-old Wray & Nephew rum that hasn’t been made for decades and use it to make an original Mai Tai as Trader Vic conceived it in 1944. It’s a nice idea, but unfortunately not a realistic one. Because just like wine, a spirit changes with ageing. Perhaps the changes are more subtle and slower, certainly other chemical processes take place, but they do happen. And not only after a few hundred years, but under unfavourable circumstances as soon as the bottle leaves the distillery. Vibration, temperature fluctuations, light, oxidation: if handled incorrectly, these processes can negatively affect even closed spirits in a comparatively short time. Let’s assume that a bottle is stored for years at a constantly low temperature and in the dark. Does nothing happen to the contents then? “We have noticed changes even when the bottles were stored in perfect conditions,” says Oscar Garza. “The probability of nothing changing at all after a few years of storage is vanishingly small.” The changes can also be subtle, but the liquid still does not remain completely static. Over long periods of time, the researcher was even able to determine that spirits with a low pH value not only reacted with oxygen and closure materials, but even with the bottle itself. The lower the pH value (e.g. after long storage in wood), the more reactive the liquid. After more than ten years, the liquid had extracted sodium from the glass, the PH value was now in the alkaline range.[27]

– “Ein originaler Mai Tai? Leider nicht.« fährt sie dann fort: »Wie ist das bei Spirituosen? Schließlich verwendet man hier im Großen und Ganzen dasselbe Glas, dieselben Flaschengrößen und sogar dieselben Verschlüsse. Wir wissen mit absoluter Sicherheit, dass Wein unter diesen Bedingungen in geschlossenen Flaschen oxidiert. Wir wissen auch, dass Spirituosen ebenfalls von Oxidation beeinflusst werden können. Und doch werden uns bei Spirituosen geschlossene Flaschen als magische Zeitkapseln verkauft, die den Geschmack jahrzehnte- oder sogar jahrhundertelang konservieren. Zumindest wird das, häufig in einem unbedachten Nebensatz, in zahlreichen Büchern und Artikeln behauptet. In der Theorie kann man sich also eine seit Jahrzehnten nicht mehr hergestellte Flasche 17-jährigen Wray & Nephew Rum kaufen und damit einen original Mai Tai so zubereiten, wie ihn Trader Vic 1944 ersonn. Das ist eine schöne Vorstellung, nur leider keine realistische. Denn genau wie ein Wein verändert sich eine Spirituose mit der Lagerung. Vielleicht sind die Veränderungen dezenter und langsamer, sicherlich finden andere chemische Prozesse statt, und doch finden sie statt. Und das nicht erst nach ein paar hundert Jahren, sondern unter ungünstigen Umständen, sobald die Flasche die Destille verlässt. Vibration, Temperaturschwankungen, Licht, Oxidation: Bei falscher Handhabung können diese Vorgänge in vergleichsweise kurzer Zeit auch geschlossene Spirituosen negativ beeinflussen. Nehmen wir einmal an, eine Flasche wird über Jahre bei konstant niedriger Temperatur und Dunkelheit aufbewahrt. Passiert mit dem Inhalt dann nichts? „Wir haben selbst dann Veränderungen festgestellt, wenn die Flaschen bei perfekten Bedingungen gelagert wurde“, so Oscar Garza. „Die Wahrscheinlichkeit dafür, dass sich nach einigen Jahren der Lagerung gar nichts verändert, ist verschwindend gering.“ Dabei können die Veränderungen auch dezent sein, komplett statisch bleibt die Flüssigkeit trotzdem nicht. Über lange Zeiträume konnte der Forscher sogar feststellen, dass Spirituosen mit einem niedrigen PH-Wert nicht nur mit Sauerstoff und Verschluss-Materialien reagierten, sondern sogar mit der Flasche selbst. Dabei gilt: umso niedriger der PH-Wert (so z.B. nach langer Lagerung im Holz), umso reaktionsfreudiger die Flüssigkeit. Nach über zehn Jahren hatte die Flüssigkeit Natrium aus dem Glas extrahiert, der PH-Wert lag nun im alkalischen Bereich.[27]

These considerations make it clear that the bottles found cannot be the original 17-year-old Wray & Nephew, even if this cannot of course be clearly proven. Appleton (Wray & Nephew) is unlikely to be of any help in this respect. [19] However, circumstantial evidence does help. On an old picture shown on Beachbum Berry’s website, there is a bottle of 15-year-old Wray & Nephew. Trader Vic mixed his Mai Tai with this rum after the 17-year-old was no longer available. It is safe to assume that the two are not fundamentally different, especially in terms of basic character, colour and alcohol content. The rum is golden in colour, and as Jeff Berry confirmed, with an alcohol content of 43 vol%. One may therefore assume that the 17-year-old bottling would also have had an alcohol content of between 40 and 45 vol%. That it was an overproof rum is rather unlikely, considering what has been written before. In addition, the drink was successful and one may therefore assume that the rum must have been relatively inexpensive, since the Mai Tai would otherwise have been too expensive to be sold en masse. With an overproof rum, it would have been relatively expensive to buy. Moreover, it is hard to imagine that a drink with 6 cl of overproof rum would find many aficionados, as light rums would be the preferred choice for most guests. [19]

We also think that the naming of the drink should be taken into consideration. For the drink to be “out of this world”, one may assume that it is multi-layered and multi-faceted. If you take an overproof rum that drowns out all the other ingredients, this is rather not the case. Then it would simply be a drink with a strong rum profile. The decisive factor, however, is that it is obviously the other ingredients that create something unexpected and not normally present in this world. The drink must therefore be a well-balanced whole in which none of the ingredients dominates and the flavours alternate and support each other.

Assuming that the original 17-year-old Wray & Nephew was not an overproof rum, Trader Vic’s subsequent recipes all seem plausible and comprehensible: After the 17-year-old Wray & Nephew ran dry, the similar 15-year-old was used. After this was also no longer available, he used a mixture of Jamaica and Martinique rums (Appleton Estate and Clement VSOP). [19]

However, there are sources that cast doubt on the last statement. It is doubtful whether Trader Vic really used a Rhum Agricole. Martin Cate writes in his book “Smugglers Cove” that the Martinique portion, which was later used instead of the 17-year-old Wray & Nephew, was not a Rhum Agricole. He justifies this with the aroma descriptions for this rum. These did not match a Rhum Agricole. He also explains that although rhum agricole from Martinique was available in the USA in the 1950s, it was far too expensive to be used in bars. Far more common was a traditional rum made from molasses from the French islands, and this can be seen in Trader Vic’s rum lists. This rum was also similar to a “black rum”, which is why Trader Vic often wrote “Dark Jamaica or Martinique rum”. In 1934, Don the Beachkomber also described a rum from Martinique as “heavy-bodied, medium pungency”, which is not how one would describe a Rhum Agricole. Trader Vic himself described rums from Martinique in the 1940s as “Commonly known as French rums, they are usually heavy in body, coffee-colored, very similar to Jamaica rums, but in many cases have the dry burned flavor of the Demeraras.” This is not a description of a rhum agricole either.. [25-263] [25-264]

Is Trader Vic’s origin myth true?

However, there are also voices that doubt Trader Vic’s origin story of the Mai Tai. Andrew Willet writes in his blog that the Mai Tai was first mentioned in 1955, and that a letter from 1956 was preserved in which a customer asked Trader Vic for the recipe of the Mai Tai she had drunk in his bar. He replied that the drink was “served here and at the Royal Hawaiian”. He did not state that he had invented the drink, as he later emphatically claimed to have done, around 1970, stating that he had invented the drink in 1944 with 17-year-old Wray and Nephew. Andrew Willett says this story of its creation in 1944 with Hawaiian friends exclaiming “Maita’i roa ae” is just a fabrication. He describes that before the (alleged) first mention of the drink in 1955, other things were also called “Mai Tai” in the 1950s, such as a cat or a sailboat. He thinks it is possible that all these things were named after Mai Tai Sing, a Chinese-American dancer who worked as a nightclub dancer in the late 1940s and starred in the 1951 film Golden Horde and in 1953’s Forbidden, with Tony Curtis. So he thinks it is possible that the drink was not created in 1944, but later, and named after this Mai Tai Sing, and possibly even first developed by an unknown bartender. [4]

Everyone can decide for themselves whether this assumption is correct. Moreover, there was already a ship called “Maitai” at the Union Steamship Company in 1915, which sailed between Wellington and San Francisco. [10]

Did Trader Vic even invent the Mai Tai?

Note: At this point we had put forward the thesis that the Mai Tai could not be an invention of Trader Vic, but rather an ancient Polynesian drink whose roots could lie in Tahiti. In the meantime, however, we have discovered that this thesis cannot be maintained any longer.

Even though Trader Vic states that he invented the Mai Tai, there are statements that make this seem unlikely. For example, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel claims that they mixed the Mai Tai as early as the 1920s. [12][13][14][17] Unfortunately, the websites that cite this do not indicate where this statement came from, so we cannot verify it. Unfortunately, knowledge of this has also been lost at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. According to our enquiry, they believe the Mai Tai was invented by Trader Vic and brought to Hawaii in 1953, where it was served at the Royal Hawaiian. [15] Other sources explain this in more detail, stating that the Matson Navigation Company commissioned Victor Bergeron in 1953 to develop a drink for their new Royal Hawaiian Hotel. He then created a variant of his Mai Tai by adding pineapple juice, and this is the variant that is still served at the hotel today. [16] This is not necessarily wrong; perhaps the Mai Tai recipe was indeed “modernised” by Trader Vic, but it was served at the hotel before. However, this new recipe with pineapple juice [16] has nothing to do with what we understand by a Mai Tai.

Royal Hawaiian Hotel circa 1928.
Royal Hawaiian Hotel circa 1928. [22]
A few details about the hotel should be given in the context of this post. The first Royal Hawaiian Hotel opened in 1872 and was converted into a YMCA building in 1917, [23] but apparently there is no connection with the hotel we are referring to. This (second) Royal Hawaiian Hotel opened on 1 February 1927. However, the owner went bankrupt in 1929 and the hotel was taken over by Matson in 1932. During World War II, the hotel was closed to tourists and only open to American soldiers. In 1960 it was sold to Sheraton, and in 1974 it was taken over by the Kyo-ya Company Limited. [7] With this history, it is not surprising that the records and awareness that Mai Tai was served at the hotel before 1953 has been lost, especially since the original hotel went bankrupt and did not find a new owner until three years later. It is also striking that Trader Vic apparently did not initially call the Mai Tai a Mai Tai. It was probably originally called “Trader Vic Punch” and appeared in print in 1951 in “Trader Vic’s Food and Drink” and in 1952 in “Trader Vic’s Kitchen Kibitzer”. [8] ATrader Vic’s website also states that Trader Vic brought the Mai Tai to Honolulu in the 1950s: “During the early 1950’s Trader Vic took the Mai Tai to Honolulu where its fame spread like wildfire”. [11]

Ethymology of the Mai Tai

The name comes from Tahitian, “maita’i” means “good, beautiful, agreeable”. In Hawaiian, however, it would be “maika’i”. [8] [9]


So the history of the Mai Tai is somewhat confusing. At least 70 years have passed since its creation. The recipes of Mai Tai can vary considerably. The basis is always rum and lime juice. There are recipes that use orange juice, passion fruit juice, grapefruit juice, almond syrup or amaretto, falernum syrup, simple syrup, rock candy syrup, vanilla syrup, orange or apricot liqueur, grenadine or maraschino juice or even bitters. As garnish you will find lime, orange or pineapple slices, cherry, mint, orchids, umbrellas, swizzle sticks. Sometimes high-proof rum is poured on top and lit. The “original recipe”, however, only calls for rum, lime juice, curaçao, orgeat and sugar syrup, garnished with a lime peel, a sprig of mint. We will leave the orchid garnish out of consideration. [2]

  1. Anistatia Miller & Jared Brown: Spirituous Journey. A History of Drink. Book Two: From Publicans to Master Mixologists. First Edition, Mixellany Limited, London, 2009. ISBN 0-9781907434-06-8. Seite 229.
  2. http://mixology.eu/klassik/der-mai-tai-geschichte-des-beruhmtesten-aller-tiki-cocktails/ and Mixology 5/2010, Page 53: Der Mai Tai. By Camper English.
  3. http://mixology.eu/rum_und_cachaca/verkostet-und-bewertet-smith-cross-traditional-jamaica-rum/: Verkostet und bewertet: Smith & Cross – Traditional Jamaica Rum.
  4. http://elementalmixology.me/2015/05/01/mai-tai-origins/: Whence the Mai-Tai? — Hey Vic, Step Aside for the Lady! By Andrew Willet, 1. May 2015.
  5. Mixology. Ausgabe 6. July / August 2004. The Tiki Issue. Page 33: Mai Tai Roa Ae.
  6. Mixology. Sonderausgabe Mai 2006. 200 Jahre Cocktail 1806-2006. Page 69: Tiki und Mai Tai.
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Hawaiian_Hotel: Royal Hawaiian Hotel.
  8. http://wiki.webtender.com/wiki/Mai_Tai: Mai Tai.
  9. Emanuel J. Drechsel: Etymological Vocabulary and Index of Maritime Polynesian Pidgin. (http://www.cambridge.org/de/download_file/811732/). Page 25.
  10. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$c175736;view=1up;seq=37: The Mid-Pacific magazine. Band 9. Honolulu, 1915. Page 25. Percy Hinter: Australia in America.
  11. http://tradervics.com/home-of-the-mai-tai/: “It’s Mai Tai Roa Ae!”
  12. http://www.cocktaildreams.de/smf/index.php?action=printpage;topic=5187.0: Titel: Re:Mai Tai Beitrag von: fmhannover am 16. Januar 2008, 21:36:54.
  13. http://www.pacific-travel-house.com/blog/2014/07/beruehmte-tiki-drinks-der-mai-tai/: Berühmte Tiki-Drinks: der Mai Tai. By Nathalie, 27. July 2014.
  14. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mai_Tai: Mai Tai.
  15. http://www.royal-hawaiian.com/dining/cocktail-culture
  16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mai_Tai: Mai Tai.
  17. http://www.perfectdrinks.de/maitai.html: Mai Tai.
  18. http://barrel-aged-thoughts.blogspot.de/2013/01/mai-tai-roa-ae-mythos-und-moderne.html: “Mai tai roa ae!” – Mythos und Moderne I. By Flo, 9. January 2013.
  19. http://barrel-aged-thoughts.blogspot.de/2013/12/mai-tai-roa-ae-mythos-und-moderne-ii.html: “Mai tai roa ae!” – Mythos und Moderne II. By Flo, 22. December 2013.
  20. Bill Kelly: The Roving Bartender. Hollywood, Oxford Press, 1946.
  21. http://mixology.eu/klassik/ti-punch-der-susse-tod/: Ti Punch. Der süsse Tod. By Bastian Heuser, 21. October 2011.
  22. http://digicoll.manoa.hawaii.edu/hawaiianphoto/Pages/viewtext.php?s=search&tid=16&route=basicsearch.php&sterms=Royal%20Hawaiian&s=browse#: B-1252 ROYAL HAWAIIAN HOTEL.
  23. https://www.locationshawaii.com/news/throwback-thursday/throwback-thursday-royal-hawaiian-hotel.aspx: Throwback Thursday – The Twisted History of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.  31. October 2013.
  24. Martin Cate & Rebecca Cate: Smuggler’s Cove. ISBN 978-1-60774-732-1. Berkley, Ten Speed Press, 2016
  25. Trader Vic: Trader Vic’s Book of Food and Drink. Garden City, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1946.
  26. https://mixology.eu/zeitbombe-spirituosen-backboard-lockdown/ Maria Gorbatschova: Der Lockdown und seine Folgen: Die tickende Zeitbombe im Backboard. 16. März 2021.
Mai Tai.
Mai Tai.

Historical recipes

1966 Oscar Haimo: Cocktail and Wine Digest. Seite 67. Mai-Tai Cocktail.

2 oz. Dark Rum (151° Proof). 1/2 Lime Juice
3 dashes Curacao. 3 dashes Apricot liqueur.
Shake with shaved ice and pour unstrained into Champage
glass. Decorate with Pineapple Stick, one small orchid
and straws.

1971 Anonymus: Tropical Recipes. Standard Recipes. Mai Tai.

Large Old Fashioned glass or
Mai Tai glass, fill fine ice
1 Lime, squeeze and drop
1 Jigger Pineapple juice
1 ” White Rum
1 ” Jamaica Rum
1 Dash simple syrup
1 ” Orgeat
1 ” Curacao
Stir well
Float Apricot Liqueur on top
Garnish, pineapple stick,
Cherry, Lime slice and Orchid
if available
Serve with straws.

1972 Anonymus: Recipes – Wines and Spirits. Seite 31. Mai Tai.

To make 1 cocktail
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 ounce apricot brandy
1/2 ounce curaçao
2 ounces dark Jamaica rum
3 to 4 ice cubes
1 stick fresh pineapple, about 1/2 inch
wide and 2 to 3 inches long
A 4-ounce cocktail glass, chilled
Combine the juice of half a lime, the apricot brandy, curaçao, rum and ice
cubes in a mixing glass. Place a shaker on top of the mixing glass and,
grasping them together firmly with both hands, shake vigorously. Remove
the shaker, place a strainer on top of the mixing glass, and pour into a cock­-
tail glass. Garnish with a stick of fresh pineapple.

1972 Leo Cotton: Old Mr. Seite 61. Mai Tai.

1/2 Teaspoon Powdered Sugar
2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Imported
1 oz. Curacao
1/2 oz. Orgeat or any almond
flavoured syrup
1/2 oz. Grenadine
1/2 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
Shake well with cracked ice and
strain into large Old Fashioned
cocktail glass about 1/3 full with
crushed ice. Decorate with Mara-
schino cherry speared to wedge of
preferably fresh pineapple. For a
hair raiser top with a dash of 151
proof rum and for a real Hawaiian
effect float an orchid on each drink.
Serve with straws.

1972 Trader Vic: Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide. Seite 162. Mai Tai.

There has been a lot of conversation over the beginning
of the Mai Tai. And I want to get the record straight. I
originated the Mai Tai.
Many others have claimed credit. Some claim it was
originated in Tahiti. All this aggravates my ulcer completely.
The drink was never introduced by me into Tahiti except
informally through our good friends, Eastham and Carrie
In 1944, after success with several exotic rum drinks, I felt
a new drink was needed. I thought about all the really suc­-
cessful drinks: martinis, Manhattans, daiquiris . . . all basi­-
cally simple drinks.
I was at the service bar in my Oakland restaurant. I took
down a bottle of seventeen-year-old rum. It was J. Wray
Nephew from Jamaica — surprisingly golden in color, medium
bodied, but with the rich pungent flavor particular to the
Jamaican blends. The flavor of this great rum wasn’t meant
to be overpowered with heavy additions of fruit juices and
flavorings. I took a fresh lime, added some orange curaçao
from Holland, a dash of rock candy syrup, and a dollop of
French orgeat for its subtle almond flavor. I added a generous
amount of shaved ice and shook it vigorously by hand to
produce the marriage I was after. Half the lime shell went
into each drink for color; and I stuck in a branch of fresh
mint. I gave the first 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 Aé.” In
Tahitian this means “Out of this world — the best.” Well, that
was that. I named the drink “Mai Tai.”
The drink enjoyed great acceptance over the next few
years in California, and in Seattle when we opened Trader
Vic’s there in 1948.
In 1953, I took the Mai Tai to the Hawaiian Islands when
I went down for the Matson Steamship Lines — to formalize
drinks for the bars at their Royal Hawaiian, Moana, and
Surfrider hotels. Any old Kamaaina can tell you about this
drink and of its rapid spread throughout the islands.
In 1954, we further introduced the Mai Tai when we in­-
cluded it among other new drinks in bar service for the Ameri­-
can President Lines.
Now it is estimated that they serve several thousand Mai
Tais daily in Honolulu alone; and we sell many more than
that daily in our twenty Trader Vic’s restaurants throughout
the world.
Anybody who says I didn’t create this drink is a dirty


1 lime
1/2 ounce orange curaçao
1/4 ounce rock candy syrup
1/4 ounce orgeat syrup
2 ounces Trader Vic Mai Tai rum or 1 ounce dark
Jamaica rum and 1 ounce Martinique rum
Cut lime in half; squeeze juice over shaved ice in a mai tai
(double old fashioned) glass; save one spent shell. Add re­-
maining ingredients and enough shaved ice to fill glass. Hand
shake. Decorate with spent lime shell, fresh mint, and a fruit

MAI TAI (using commercial mix)

2 ounces Trader Vic Mai Tai mix
2 ounces Trader Vic Mai Tai rum
Fill mai tai (double old fashioned) glass with shaved ice. Add
mix and rum, and shake. Decorate with fresh mint, a fruit
stick and fresh lime if you wish.

1973 Oscar Haimo: Cocktail and Wine Digest. Seite 67. Mai-Tai Cocktail.

2 oz. Dark Rum (151° Proof). 1/2 Lime Juice
3 dashes Curacao, 3 dashes Apricot Liqueur.
Shake with shaved Ice and pour unstrained into Champagne
Glass. 1 dash of Almond Extract. Decorate with Pineapple
Stick, one small Orchid and straws.

1976 Brian F. Rea – Brian’s Booze Guide. Seite 64. Mai Tai.

Build in double old fashioned glass filled with
shaved ice.
1 1⁄2 ounces light Rum
Fill 3⁄4 with Mai Tai mix
Pour 3⁄4 ounce Jamaica Rum on top, stir
Garnish with cherry, orange slice, pineapple spear

1976 Harry Craddock: The Savoy Cocktail Book. Seite 100. Mai-Tai.

1/2 teaspoon Powdered
2 oz. Rum.
1 oz. Triple Sec.
1 tablespoon Orgeat or
Almond Flavored Syrup.
1 tablespoon Grenadine.
1 tablespoon Lime Juice.
Shake with ice and strain in­
to large old-fashioned glass
about 1/3 full with crushed
ice. Decorate with Mara­-
schino cherry speared to
wedge of pineapple.

1977 Stan Jones: Jones’ Complete Barguide. Seite 191. Mai Tai.

Trader Vie concocted this rum specialty in 1944 and according to him it was named
as a resuit of the satisfaction expressed by two of his friends who first sampled his invention
and then said, “Mai Tai Roa Ae” which in Tahitian means “Out of this world . . . the best.”

double old fashioned glass build
fill with shaved ice
1 1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz orange curaçao
1/2 oz rock candy syrup
[ oz orgeat
1/2 oz orgeat
2 oz Trader Vic’s Mai Tai rum OR
1 oz dark Jamaica rum and
1 oz Martinique rum
Hand shake in glass
decorate with half lime shell
fresh mint and fruit stick

Other recipes for a mai tai include:
(a) 2 1/2 oz rum
. 3/4 oz orange curaçao
. 1/2 oz orgeat
. 1/2 oz grenadine
. 1 oz lime juice
. fruit garnish
. float of 151 proof rum

(b) 2 oz dark rum
. 1/2 oz orange curaçao
. 1/2 oz apricot flavored brandy
. 1 1/2 oz lime juice, garnish, etc.

(c) 1 1/2 oz rum
. 3/4 oz lime juice
. 1/4 oz triple sec
. 1/4 oz orgeat
. garnish with fruit, etc.

1977 Stan Jones: Jones’ Complete Barguide. Seite 333. Mai Tai.

Double Old Fashioned Shake
1 oz light rum
1 oz dark rum
1-1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz orange curacao
1/4 oz grenadine
1/2 oz orgeat syrup
1/4 oz Falernum
Fill with crushed ice
Fruit garnish

1980 Anonymus: Manual del bar. Seite 137. Mai Tai.

MAI TAI 25 gramos de ron blanco

Batido. 25 gramos de ron oro
Vaso de whisky. 20 gramos de curacao
. Orange
. 10 gramos de jarabe de
. almendras
. 15 gramos de jugo de lima
. o limón
. 5 gramos de granadina
. Hielo hasta la mitad del va-
. so y encima hielo grani-
. zado, decorar con una ra-
. mita de menta, cereza y
. ananá.

Anonymus Manual del bar. 1980, page 146.
Anonymus Manual del bar. 1980, page 146.

2004 Mixology. Ausgabe 6. Juli / August 2004. The Tiki Issue. Seite 33. Mai Tai, Mixology Rezeptur. 4 cl Appleton 12 years; 2 cl La Mauny weißer Rhum Agricole; 1 cl Dry Orange Curacao; 2 cl Mandelsirup; 2 cl Limettensaft.

2004 Mixology. Ausgabe 6. Juli / August 2004. The Tiki Issue. Seite 33. Mai Tai, Trader Vic’s Original Formula. 2 ounces 17-year-old J. Wray & Nephew Jamaican Rum; 1/2 ounce French Garnier Orgeat; 1/2 ounce Holland Orange Curaçao; 1/4 ounce Rock Candy Syrup; juice from one lime; garnish: 1/2 lime shell, sprig of mint.

2004 Mixology. Ausgabe 6. Juli / August 2004. The Tiki Issue. Seite 33. Trader Vic’s aktuelle Rezeptur. 2 ounces Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Rum; 4 ounces Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Mix; juice of one large lime.

2006 Mixology. Sonderausgabe Mai 2006. 200 Jahre Cocktail 1806-2006. Seite 70. Trader Vic’s Mai Tai. 6 cl 17-year-old J. Wray & Nephew Jamaican Rum; 1-2 cl French Garnier Orgeat; 1-2 cl Holland Orange Curacao; 1 cl Rock Candy Syrup; Saft einer Limette; Garnierung: 1 Minzzweig.

2009 Anistatia Miller & Jarred Brown: Spirituous Journey. A History of Drink. Book Two. Seite 227. Trader Vic Mai Tai: 8 parts 17-year old J. Wray & Nephew Rum over shaved ice; add juice from one lime; 2 parts curacao; 1 part rock candy syrup; 2 parts orgeat; shake vigorously; add a sprig of fresh mint.

2009 Anistatia Miller & Jarred Brown: Spirituous Journey. A History of Drink. Book Two. Seite 227. Don The Beachcomber Mai Tai: 6 parts Myer’s Plantation rum; 4 parts Cuban rum; 3 parts lime juice; 4 parts grapefruit juice; 1 part Falernum; 2 parts Cointreau; 2 dashes Angostura bitters; 1 dash pernod; shell of squeezed lime; 1 cup of cracked ice; shake for 1 minute; garnish with four sprigs of mint; add a spear of pineapple.

2010 Mixology 5/2010. Seite 55. Mai Tai (historisches Rezept von 1944). 6 cl 17-Jahre alten Wray & Nephew Rum; 3 cl Limettensaft; 1,5 cl Curacao Orange; 0,75 cl Orgeat; 0,75 cl Kandiszuckersirup (2:1 einfacher Sirup); Garnierung: halbe Limettenschale und Minzezweig.

2010 Mixology 5/2010. Seite 56. Mai Tai von „Gaz“ Regan: 4,5 cl 10 Cane Rum; 1,5 cl Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum; 1,5 cl Grand Marnier; 0,75 cl Orgeat Sirup; 1,5 cl Limettensaft; Garnierung: Minzezweigchen.

2010 Jason Kosmas & Dushan Zaric: Speakeasy, Classic Cocktails reimaged, from New York’s Employees Only Bar. Seite 101. Mai Tai. 1 1/2 ounces Flor de Caña 12-year-old rum; 3/4 ounce Marie Brizard orange Curaçao; 3/4 ounce orgeat or almond syrup; 1 ounce lime juice; garnish: 1 mint sprig, 1 lime wheel.

2011 Helmut Adam, Jens Hasenbein, Bastian Heuser: Cocktailian 1. Seite 408. Mai Tai, Trader Vic’s. 3 cl Jamaika Rum; 3 cl Martinique Rum; 1,5 cl Orange Curaçao; 1 BL Mandelsirup; 1 cl Zuckersirup; 3 cl Limettensaft; Garnitur: Minzzweig, ausgepresste Limettenhälfte.

2011 Helmut Adam, Jens Hasenbein, Bastian Heuser: Cocktailian 2. Seite 250. Mai Tai, Trader Vic’s. 3 cl gereifter Jamaika Rum; 3 cl Martinique Rum; 1,5 cl Orange Curaçao; 1 cl Orgeat; 1 BL Zuckersirup (2:1); 4,5 cl Limettensaft; Garnitur: Minzzweig, ausgepresste Limettenhälfte.

2011 Helmut Adam, Jens Hasenbein, Bastian Heuser: Cocktailian 2. Seite 252. Mai Tai, Don The Beachcomber. 4,5 cl British Navy Style Rum; 3 cl goldener kubanischer Rum; 2 cl Limettensaft; 3 cl Pink Grapefruitsaft; 1 cl Falernum; 1,5 cl Triple Sec; 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters; 2 Dashes Absinth: Garnitur: Limettenzeste, Minze.

2011 Jim Meehan: Das Geheime Cocktail-Buch. Seite 168. Mai-Tai. 3 cl Banks 5 Island Rum; 2 cl Rhum Clément V.S.O.P.; 3 cl Limettensaft; 1,5 cl Marie Brizard Curaçao Orange; 1,5 cl Kassatly Chtaura Orgeat; Garnitur: Minzezweig.

2013 Tristan Stephenson: The Curious Bartender. Seite 165. Mai Tai. 25 ml Trois Rivieres blanc rum; 25 ml Myer’s jamaican rum; 12,5 ml orange curaçao; 25 ml lime juice; 8 ml orgeat syrup; 8 ml sugar syrup; garnish: pineapple wedge, cherry. a splash of overproof rum on top.

2014 David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald, Alex Day: Death & Co. Seite 144. Mai Tai. 1 lime wedge; 1 ounce El Dorado 15-year rum; 1 ounce Appleton Estate V/X rum; 1/4 ounce La Favorite rhum agricole blanc; 1/2 ounce Rhum Clément créole shrubb; 1 ounce lime juice; 3/4 ounce orgeat; 1 dash Angostura bitters; garnish: 1 mint bouquet.

2015 Duggan McDonnell: Drinking the devil’s acre. Seite 53. The Mai Tai. 60 ml Sergeant Classick gold rum; 20 ml lime juice; 15 ml almond syrup; 10 ml curaçao; 10 ml Cocktail Syrup. Garnish: 1/2 spent lime. Cocktail Syrup, Seite 59: 9 cups water; 7 cups granulated sugar; 1 cup brown sugar; 1 cup turbinado sugar; peel of 2 lemons; peel of 1 orange; 2 tsp salt; 1/2 cup silver rum; 1/4 cup cream sherry.

2016 André Darlington & Tenaya Darlington: The New Cocktail Hour. Seite 185. Mai Tai. 30 ml Appleton Estate Extra; 30 ml Clement VSOP; 15 ml Pierre Ferrand Curaçao; 30 ml Limettensaft; 7 ml Orgeat; Garnierung: Minzzweg, Limettenscheibe.

2016 Anonymus: Cocktails. Seite 87. Mai Tai. 4,5 cl British Navy Style Rum; 3 cl goldener kubanischer Rum; 2 cl Limettensaft; 3 cl Pink-Grapefruit-Saft; 1 cl Falernum; 1,5 cl Triple Sec; 2 dashes Angostura Bitters; 2 dashes Absinth; Garnierung: Limettenzeste, Minze.

2016 Brian Silva: Mixing in the Right Circles at Balthazar London. Seite 83. Mai Tai. 35ml Myer’s Dark Rum; 35 ml Bacardi White Rum; 15 ml Velvet Falernum; 75 ml orange juice; 15 ml lime juice; 5 ml orgeat syrup; 5 ml gomme; garnish: fruit slices.

2016 Martin Cate: Smuggler’s Cove. Seite 261. Mai Tai. 3/4 ounce lime juice; 1/4 ounce SC Mai Tai Rhich Simple Syrup; 1/4 ounce SC orgeat syrup; 1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao; 2 ounces blended aged rum.

2017 Gary Regan: The Joy of Mixology. Seite 237. Mai Tai. 1 ounce lime juice; 1 ounce dark Jamaican rum (Appleton, Myer’s); 1 ounce aged Martinique rum (Rhum Clément, Rhum JM); 1/2 ounce orange curaçao; 1/2 ounce orgeat syrup; 1/4 ounce simple syrup; garnish: mint sprig.

2017 Jim Meehan: Meehan’s Bartender Manual. Seite 264. Mai Tai. 1 oz. Clément Premiére Canne rhum; 1 oz. Appleton Estate Reserve rum; 0,75 oz. lime juice; 0,75 oz. Small Han Foods orgeat; 0,5 oz. Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao; garnish: 1 mint sprig.

2018 Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, David Kaplan: Cocktail Codex. Seite 136. Mai Tai. 1 ounce Appleton Estate Reserve Blend rum; 1 ounce La Favorite Coeur de Canne rhum agricole blanc; 1/4 ounce Grand marnier; 1 ounce lime juice; 1/2 ounce House Orgeat; 1/4 ounce simple syrup; 1 dash Angostura bitters; garnish: 1 mint bouquet.

Royal Hawaiian, http://www.royal-hawaiian.com/dining/cocktail-culture: 1 oz. Bacardi Rum; 1 tsp. Cherry Vanilla Puree; ½ oz. Amaretto di Saronno; ½ oz. Cointreau; 1 oz. Fresh Govinda Orange Juice; 2 oz. Fresh Govinda Pineapple Juice; ½ oz. Whaler’s Dark Rum Float. Float with Whaler’s Dark Rum, garnish with a parasol with cherry, pineapple and lime wedge.

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Hi, I'm Armin and in my spare time I want to promote bar culture as a blogger, freelance journalist and Bildungstrinker (you want to know what the latter is? Then check out "About us"). My focus is on researching the history of mixed drinks. If I have ever left out a source you know of, and you think it should be considered, I look forward to hearing about it from you to learn something new. English is not my first language, but I hope that the translated texts are easy to understand. If there is any incomprehensibility, please let me know so that I can improve it.

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