Invented in the ’40s by Oakland’s Vic Bergeron for his Trader Vic’s restaurants, the original mai tai featured only aged rum, lime juice, and orange liqueur, with a guest appearance by orgeat syrup.
“Bergeron just wanted to show off the rum,” says “King of Cocktails” Dale DeGroff, whose book The Essential Cocktail will be published next month. From that austere beginning, some mai tais have blossomed into fruity extravaganzas.
The one we like, featured at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel’s Mai Tai Bar, is easier: It adds only orange juice and simple syrup to Vic’s original mix and is so redolent of the tropics, you’ll feel the trade winds even if drinking in Nome.
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