About the Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai

The Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai is produced in the San Francisco Bay Area by Kevin Crossman.

About this Website

The Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai started when the original website launched in late 1998. We implemented a crude interactive website and received review submissions from Mai Tai fans globally. But, that website ceased active production a few years later and sat dormant for many years.

In 2016, I became more actively interested in Tiki again and began to experiment with cocktails. This interest was largely sparked by my 50th birthday that was coming up in the spring of 2017, and the theme for the party was “Hawaii 5-0.” In December 2017 I relaunched the Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai as an Instagram account with the goal to post daily. After two-plus years of consistent posts on Instagram, we re-launched the Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai website in January 2020.

Site Header by B-Rex

Blog updates largely mirror the update posts on Instagram, sometimes with additional details. Topics covered include:

  • Mai Tais
  • Tiki bars and tiki culture
  • Cocktails
  • Rum and other spirits

The rest of the website is a reference site bundling up our findings, tasting experiments, and trip reports.

For more information about the background of the website, watch the interview on the Tiki with Ray video show (filmed July 2019) and a follow-up discussing Tiki in Honolulu (October 2019). Or the Tiki Blogging profile on the Tiki with Ray Blog.

Mai Tai Media Appearances

The Rumcast episode from April 2021 covers the history of the Mai Tai, tips for the home bartender, and how to get an awesome Mai Tai at your local watering hole. And of course lots of talk about rum for your Mai Tai. We played a game of “Mai Tai or Not a Mai Tai” and the episode ended with the Rumcast’s signature rapid fire round of questions.

Listen or download the episode on Rumcast.com



Kevin Crossman is a Bay Area native and has been called the “High Priest of the Mai Tai” by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. He started the Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai with the original website back in 1998 before putting the site on hold in 2002. He became active again in the cocktail, rum, and tiki community starting in 2016, launching the Instagram account and the current Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai website. Kevin has written for Exotica Moderne magazine and has presented at Tiki Kon, Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Day, and San Francisco Rum Festival and Congress.

“Kevin knows his stuff. He’s been doing this since the 1990s.” – Jeff “Beachbum” Berry

A rum enthusiast, Kevin has completed the Expedition rum list at The Kon-Tiki Oakland and the Forbidden Island Kill Devil Club 1.0 and 2.0 rum lists. He is also a Guardian of the Cove in the Rumbustion Society at Smuggler’s Cove.

Kevin has previously produced the niche websites Lip Balm Anonymous and Frat Pack Tribute. He was also the co-host for the popular That’s What She Said podcast about NBC’s The Office.


Tiki Kon Seminar: The (De)Evolution of the Hawaiian Mai Tai
Recorded July 1, 2022 at Tiki Kon, we’ve combined the professionally recorded audio with the slides so that you can experience it at home.

Session Description:
Everyone is familiar with the iconic Hawaiian Mai Tai that features pineapple juice and a dark rum float. This version of the Mai Tai is quite different from the original 1944 Mai Tai created at Trader Vic’s. When did the Mai Tai in Hawaii become the “Hawaiian Mai Tai?” It wasn’t in 1953 when Trader Vic brought the Mai Tai to Hawaii and is later than you might think. Learn more about this iconic cocktail and how it evolved over the years based on contemporaneous reports and published recipes.

Trader Vic’s Emeryville Mai Tai Day Seminar: The (De)Evolution of the Hawaiian Mai Tai
An expended version of the presentation was presented at Trader Vic’s on Mai Tai Day. This wasn’t recorded but you can view the slides and other materials on this site.

Photo courtesy Trader Vic’s Emeryille
Photo courtesy Trader Vic’s Emeryille

View the slides from the Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Day Seminar

Appreciating Rum Through the Lens of the Mai Tai
Presented to the Three Rum Club at Tiki Tom’s in Walnut Creek, the seminar discusses how the rum in the Mai Tai changed over the years and additional historical details, stories, and photos.

Written Works

Recently, Kevin has written articles, contributed cocktail recipes, and provided photographs for articles in Exotica Moderne magazine.

  • Issue 5, 2019: Photos of Zombie Village (article by Tiki with Ray)
  • Issue 6. 2020: “The State of Tiki in Honolulu” (article and photos)
  • Issue 7, 2020: Cocktail recipe – The Blue Hawai-Tai
  • Issue 8, 2020: Cocktail recipe – The Innovation Cocktail
  • Issue 9, 2020: “What’s a Tikiphile to do Now?” (article and photos)
  • Issue 10, 2021: “QB, or not QB?” (article and photos)
  • Issue 11, 2021: “Relentlessly Curious: The Exotic Art of Woody Miller” (cover article)
  • Issue 12, 2021: Cocktail recipe – Banana Mai Tai, photo of Zombie Village
  • Issue 13, 2021: “The Kon-Tiki: Charting Their Own Course” (article and photos), Cocktail recipes: Turkey Grog and Blue Caribbean
  • Issue 14, 2022: “Code Name: Disco Banana” (article and photos)
  • Issue 15, 2022: “The (De)Evolution of the Hawaiian Mai Tai” (article and photos)
  • Issue 16, 2022: “Why the 1944 Mai Tai Isn’t “the 1944 Mai Tai”” (article), music review, cocktail recipe: London Dry Spin
  • Issue 20, 2023: Music review


The Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai logo and website header are by B-Rex.

Thank you to the following for assistance with the site, content review, and editorial input.

  • Alexis Antonio
  • Dave Bartell
  • Rick Carroll
  • Jay Cocorullo
  • Jason Craig
  • Jeremy Cash Dollar
  • Tony Dunnigan
  • Alex Fritch
  • Matt Peitrek
  • Ray Wyland

Please send website feedback to webmaster@ultimatemaitai.com.

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