Ranking the top Mai Tais we’ve tasted so far this year. Note that some of these include rum substitutions, indicating that calling for premium spirits often elevates the cocktail.
10. Strong Water Anaheim with Lost Voyage Rum
Made with Strong Water’s Lost Voyage Rum released in conjunction with Hamilton Rum. Bold and very flavorful.
9. Tangaroa Terrace with El Dorado 8
We really appreciate the Trader Sam’s bartenders ability to improvise with called spirits. This one featured an aged Demerara rum and was totally rich and satisfying.
8. Trailer Happiness
The best Mai Tai in London was made with Appleton 8 and Grand Marnier and was really complex with a wonderful mouthfeel and long finish.
7. Smuggler’s Cove
As per the photo, there were some drunken shenanigans at the Cove that evening. But there’s nothing frivolous about the Cove’s legendary Mai Tai.
6. Ultimate Mai Tai at Tiki Tom’s
We were honored when Tiki Tom’s put our Ultimate Mai Tai on the menu, featuring our hand-picked blend of heavy rums. They make it great there, and we pop in occasionally for “quality control” tasting.
5. Buz-Tai at Hula Hoops
The boozy Buz-Tai is a Mai Tai riff created by local impresario Buz Deadwax and has been on the menu at South San Francisco’s Hula Hoops for years. Set on fire and including a complex blend of rums plus pimento dram.
4. Dr. Funk
San Jose’s Dr. Funk is still making excellent Mai Tais. This was their standard issue and I loved it.
3. Kon Tiki with Saint Benevolence Aged Clairin
The Kon-Tiki’s standard Mai Tai is excellent, but we really loved this one made with an aged Clairin from Haiti. Savory but still with good barrel aging notes.
2. Trader Vic’s San Jose Airport
There’s no way that this airport Mai Tai should rank so high, but a second that day confirmed that it was perfectly made and balanced. Mai Tais at sunset are just fine before a flight.
1. Mai Tai with Appleton 17
Appleton created this rum replicate the Wray 17 used in the original Trader Vic’s Mai Tai. And, yes, it is spectacular in a Mai Tai. Made by Chris Dennis at an Appleton 17 event with Ferrand Dry Curacao and homemade orgeat / rich simple.
Honorable mentions: Red Dwarf, Formosa Cafe, High Roller Tiki Lounge