In 2019, the Mai Tai celebrated its 75th anniversary. On a sunny Saturday in late August, Trader Vic’s flagship location in Emeryville held a special event to celebrate the occasion.
Every single square foot of public space was used at the restaurant, including all of the dining rooms, the outdoor patio, and the venerable Mai Tai lounge. Bands and DJs played, arts and craft vendors crammed into corners selling their wares, photo booths allowed guests to capture the moment, and a buffet provided an all-you-can-eat opportunity for hundreds of guests to sample some of the best food that Trader Vic’s offers.
And of course there were Mai Tais; eight variants in fact. Plus other Trader Vic’s cocktails, and long lines for thirsty patrons.
As the party reached its apex of capacity, Trader Vic’s granddaughter Eve Bergeron called the assembled masses together for a toast. And then she passed the microphone over to Forbidden Island and Conga Lounge tiki bar owner Michael Thanos.
Thanos was in his element. Like a country preacher, he told the story about how he lobbied to have the Mai Tai declared the official cocktail of Oakland. And then how the effort failed but at least the city did declare Mai Tai Day to be August 30. As he finished the story, he asked for glasses to be raised as he brought the assembled crowd to a fevered crescendo by proclaiming “Long live Trader Vic’s! Long live the Mai Tai!“
See you Sunday for the 2022 Mai Tai Day event and be sure to arrive early to see my seminar on the Hawaiian Mai Tai at 2 pm.