I keep trying to make this one. It seems so simple and maybe uninteresting, but when I tried it at the Mai-Kai last year I was blown away. So I keep trying. And the fact that this is blended, when I’ve been fighting like Ahab to get my blender to make good slushy blended drinks, well let’s just say that the result was better but still not perfect.
This time the blend was better but still too many big chunks considering I was sipping rather than using a straw.
Derby Daiquiri ½ oz Lime juice 1 oz Orange juice ½ oz Sugar syrup 1½ oz Light Rum (I used Plantation 3 Star) Blend with ice
I used fresh Valencia Oranges and it certainly made a difference compared to when I’ve used bottled OJ. But neither is as good as the Orange Juice they use at the Mai-Kai in Florida, so I guess all those ads about Florida oranges are true.
The Atomic Grog has great resources for everything Mai-Kai and their page for this cocktail is no exception. Check it out.
This essay has been gracing the back cover of the Trader Vic’s Cocktail Menu for decades. It serves to highlight the spirit that is most prominent in Trader Vic’s cocktails, and is both a history lesson and a list of “shout outs” to famed mixologists. This is a scan of a menu circa 1965.
This is one area where I think that Victor Bergeron deserves more credit, as quite often he would credit the original creator of a cocktail on the menu or in his books. In the essay he highlights a number of 20th Century barmen including Frank Meier of the Ritz Bar in Paris, Constantine at La Florida Bar in Havana, and Albert Martin of Con Ton Bar in New Orleans. He ends with several pointed salutes to Don the Beachcomber of Hollywood.
The design includes pictures of some of the famous venues and a caricature of Don the Beachcomber himself.
Firstly, it is nice to see this being labeled “Mai Tai Day” this year rather than “Real Mai Tai Day”. It celebrates the birth of the Mai Tai in 1944, using the date for Mai Tai Day designated by Oakland several years ago.
Vic’s opened at 11 am for Brunch and cocktails, and several of us made the trek to be there at opening. Plenty of souvenir Mai Tai Day Mason Jars were available and they’re a timely design. My Mai Tai looked great and was refreshing on Vic’s outdoor patio/picnic space (in the corner of the parking lot). Good social-distancing employed.
Brunch was a little tricky in that you still have to order food via telephone (brunch menu isn’t in the online system yet, though I’d expect that to be fixed soon). And so you have to go over to the main building to pick it up. But otherwise, this is pretty nice. The morning fog was actually a welcome component and then slowly burned off by around 12:30 pm. My Salmon Toast was delightful and Mrs. Mai Tai’s Eggs Benedict was great too. Supposedly brunch will be an option every week going forward.
Aside from the tikiphiles in attendance, there was a special online toast for Mai Tai Day, featuring Vic’s CEO Rhett Rosen. Eve Bergeron set up a monitor and so everyone in attendance could participate. While this wasn’t as grand as last year’s incredible Mai Tai 75 celebration, this was still pretty good considering the restrictions on indoor gatherings.
How to make the Ultimate Mai Tai? Follow along with our recipe and make a Mai Tai yourself to celebrate Mai Tai Day on August 30.
Ultimate Mai Tai by Kevin Crossman ½ oz Appleton 12 Rum ½ oz Smith & Cross Rum ½ oz Plantation OFTD Rum ½ oz Plantation Xaymaca Rum 1 oz Lime Juice ½ oz Orgeat (Latitude 29) ½ oz Orange Curacao (Ferrand Dry Curacao) ¼ oz Demerara Syrup (BG Reynolds)
Most tikiphiles are familiar with the classic cocktails that Jeff “Beachbum” Berry brought back from the dead, finding their original recipes and sharing them with the world. The 1934 Zombie is the holy grail but there’s also Three Dots and a Dash, the Q.B. Cooler, and others. But an overlooked recipe that deserves just as much praise is the Saturn.
The Saturn was originally prepared by J. “Popo” Galsini in 1967 for the IBA World Cocktail Championship – and Popo won the darn thing. You’d think that thereafter this drink would have been world famous, but nobody was drinking these until Berry discovered it and published the recipe in his book Beachbum Berry’s Taboo Table in 2005.
Saturn ½ oz Lemon Juice ½ oz Passion Fruit Syrup ¼ oz Falernum ¼ oz Orgeat 1¼ oz Dry Gin 8 oz Crushed Ice
Blend and pour into a Pilsner or other tall glass.
The cocktail is surprisingly refreshing. Popo was said to have tended bar in several tiki bars, so he would have been familiar with Orgeat and Falernum that were already starting to lose favor along with the rest of the classic exotic cocktail ingredients in 1967.
I personally prefer up the Orgeat to ½ ounce and then to prepare shaken with crushed ice and served up in a coupe glass.
Invented in New Orleans at Pat O’Briens bar, the actual recipe is a closely held secret. But everyone who has had one knows that it is fruity and that it has tons of rum. If you’ve had one from one of the cheap bars on Bourbon Street, you’re totally missing out. Those taste like garbage but when you make it at home with fresh ingredients it is delightful.
Some recipes call for Fassionola syrup, a sweetener with an equally mysterious recipe. The standard recipe used by many comes to us from Jeff “Beachbum” Berry who published this recipe in The Grog Log in 1998. The proportions make it easy to batch, which I did for a neighborhood block party (remember those) celebrating Mardis Gras a couple years ago.
Hurricane 2 oz Lemon Juice 2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup 4 oz Dark Jamaican Rum
Shake with crushed ice and fill in a Hurricane glass. Depending on the sweetness of your Passion Fruit Syrup, you might consider adding a little extra sugar syrup.
This cocktail is not particularly rum-forward, so you don’t need to go high-end for the Jamaican rum. Coruba, Myers’s, or Blackwell are all affordable and will do just fine.
Though the exact recipe may not be known, it does seem clear that the Mai Tai’s rise to fame in Hawaii started at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach. In 1953, Trader Vic Bergeron contracted with Matson to provide menus for their passenger ships and their hotel properties that included the Royal Hawaiian. The Mai Tai became a big hit with tourists in Hawaii and by the end of the decade had supplanted the Zombie as the most famous tropical cocktail in the world.
Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai (Classic Recipe) ½ oz Lime Juice ¼ oz Lemon Juice 1 oz Orange Juice 1 oz unsweetened Pineapple Juice ¼ oz Sugar Syrup ¼ oz Orgeat ¼ oz Orange Curacao 1 oz Demerara Rum 1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum 1 oz Light Rum
Garnish with a Pineapple finger, Sugar Cane stick, Orchid, and Mint Sprig.
This recipe dates to 1971 according to the entry in Beachbum Berry Remixed (page 72).
Note that the recipe for this Mai Tai does not have the dark rum float most typically associated with Island Mai Tais. Though, I suppose, you could hold back the Dark Jamaican rum and float it.
Today, the Royal Hawaiian provides the “secret recipe” for their “Original” Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai, and it differs considerably from the older recipe provided by Beachbum Berry. Purists will note the use of Amaretto rather than Orgeat, and a mere 1½ ounces of rum.
The photo above is the Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai sampled in 2019.
Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai (Modern Recipe) Build in shaker with ice: 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
Roll the shaker, pour in a large “bucket” glass. Float with Whaler’s Dark Rum, garnish with a parasol with cherry, pineapple and lime wedge.
Compare to the 1956 Mai Tai
Note that both recipes differ considerably from the 1956 Mai Tai recipe that Trader Vic provided to a patron of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. That recipe is much closer to a traditional 1944 Mai Tai, though it is possible that in 1956 that the Mai Tais in Hawaii were still made without Pineapple and Orange juices.
Found this at an antiques store in Coos Bay, OR and had to have it. It seems to be vintage from the 1960s, including some powdered Mai Tai mixes. I could see how this would have been really cool back in the day, though obviously I’m not going to try and use the shaker or the Mai Tai Mix now.
It smells just as old as you might think, and it’s great!