* 2 oz premium aged rum (Appleton Estate 12-year or El Dorado 12-year)
* 0.75 oz fresh lime juice
* 0.5 oz orange curacao
* 0.25 oz rock candy syrup (2 parts rock candy, 1 part water)
* 0.25 oz orgeat almond syrup
Shake vigorously on crushed ice, pour unstrained into double old-fashioned glass, garnish with a squeeze of lime juice and fresh mint sprig.
The Mai Tai, or Maita’i (the Tahitian word for good), is a cocktail with an understandably contentious origin story given its popularity. The more widely accepted story is that in 1944, Victor Bergeron, owner of the popular Trader Vic’s in Emeryville, California, wanted to take advantage of some nice Jamaican rum he had on hand to entertain some friends from Tahiti, Eastham and Carrie Guild. Combining the rum with lime juice, orgeat, curacao and some rock candy syrup, he served what was presumably the first Mai Tai ever to them, upon which Carrie exclaimed, “Mai tai roa ae!” which roughly translates to “out of this world” or “the best”. When asked what this amazing concoction was called, Trader Vic decided the name of the cocktail then and there to be the Mai Tai. However, the other origin story comes from Trader Vic’s rival, Ernest Gantt aka Donn Beach aka Don the Beachcomber, another legendary figure in the Tiki drink world. He claims to have concocted the a similar drink, called the Q.B. Cooler in 1933 and claims that Trader Vic took this as inspiration for his Mai Tai. Either way, the classic Mai Tai that we know today resembles Trader Vic’s recipe, whether due to his legitimate invention of it or clever marketing (and copyright). That said, what most people have in mind when they hear Mai Tai is similarly distant from Trader Vic’s original intent, which was to showcase the flavor of a great rum, stating that “The flavor of this great rum wasn’t meant to be overpowered with heavy additions of fruit juices and flavorings,” which unfortunately got forgotten as people sought to profit on this delicious cocktail substituting cheaper rums and a heavy dose of pineapple juice rather than lime. The slow erosion of the Mai Tai’s original quality and intent has resulted in the poor reputation of this classic cocktail and is something we should keep in mind as we return to its roots.