Each year we celebrate the 10 best Mai Tais that we had the pleasure of tasting in the last 12 months. The list includes commercial restaurants and bars, plus Mai Tais we had at home tiki bars and events. For this list the rating is solely about what’s in the glass and does not factor in other elements such as ambiance, food, service, or decor.
Some of the Mai Tais involve rum substitutions from what the bar would normally serve. This presents the reader with more to consider when visiting these places, but highlights that making spirit substitutions is often what changes a good Mai Tai into a great one.
Summary of the Top 10 of 2023
The best by a mile was the amazing Appleton 17 Legend Mai Tai at Smuggler’s Cove. That Appleton 17 sure makes a great Mai Tai (and it should, considering the price). Also notable was Saint Benevolence Rum Clairin in two of these – I love the heavy rum with olive and brine notes. Boo Loo uses the same Super Jugoso Orgeat that Kon-Tiki Oakland uses., and Kon-Tiki would have had others but we limit each location to a single entry.
And, yes, whatever they were doing that evening in January at the San Jose Airport Trader Vic’s was nearly perfect. Trailer Happiness in London lived up to the reputation, as did the Buz-Tai. We salute Tiki Tom’s for making our Ultimate Mai Tai the right way, and wish Dr. Funk would make their Mai Tai as good as this one was all the time. The Banyan Mai Tai was served at a treehouse, which shows you can get a great Mai Tai nearly anywhere.
1. Smuggler’s Cove with Appleton 17
2. Mai Tai with Appleton 17, Appleton Rum Event
3. Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport
4. Kon-Tiki Oakland with Saint Benevolence Aged Rum Clairin
5. Banyan Mai Tai at Tiki in Waikiki by Skull & Crown Trading Co.
6. Dr Funk
7. Buz-Tai at Hula Hoops
8. Ultimate Mai Tai at Tiki Tom’s
9. Trailer Happiness
10. Boo Loo Lounge with Saint Benevolence Rum Clairin