No Elvis party at Forbidden Island this year so we made some Blue Hawaii cocktails. Almost as good as a peanut butter and banana sandwich.
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.
The Mai Tai served at House without a Key, Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki
⅓ oz Orgeat
⅓ oz Orange Curacao (Cointreau)
⅓ oz Rock Candy Syrup
1 ¼ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Bacardi Select/Black Rum
¾ oz Bacardi Gold Rum
Float ½ oz Lemon Hart 151 Rum
This looks like a typical Island Mai Tai but is closer to an original 1944 Mai Tai, and was easily our favorite in Waikiki. (Halekulani website)
Visit the Skull & Crown Trading Company website and purchase a pin
The Island of Hawaii (“the Big Island”) is a great destination for Mai Tai fans, being the home of the last remaining Don the Beachcomber location, as well as the yearly Mai Tai Festival. This is not intended to provide an exhaustive review of every Mai Tai on the island, since you can get a Mai Tai in nearly any restaurant and every bar, but we do want to highlight some key destinations.
We’ve added a new page to the Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai website: Tiki Travels – Honolulu.
Most of our Tiki Travels pages will be exclusively focusing on Tiki Bars. However, since Hawaii is also a great Mai Tai destination, many of the places we visited weren’t tiki at all. Nonetheless we had some great Mai Tais, including our favorite on Waikiki at the Halekulani Hotel.
View the page:
Tiki Travels – Honolulu
Time to add paid, published author to my resume.
Actually, I did some freelance RPG writing years and years ago, but it’s nice to start doing some more again. This is my article in the latest issue of Exotica Moderne, a story about tiki bars in Honolulu.
Ken from House of Tabu did an amazing job with the layout and design. Look at the map! So awesome.
And glad to give shout outs to Arnold’s Beach Bar, The Myna Bird, Skull & Crown Trading Company, La Mariana, and the recent departed Wiki Waki Woo Tropical Bar (hope that one comes back). Great fun in Honolulu.
If you haven’t ordered your copy get over to House of Tabu website to secure your copy.
On this episode, I discuss the current state of Tiki Bars in Honolulu and Waikiki. Filmed at Devil’s Reef in Tacoma, WA.
Check out the Tiki with Ray blog.