I started out on a quest for the history behind the Hawaii’s magical Mai Tai. This popular rum and fruit juice concoction has two very interesting men claiming ownership of its creative recipe.
The well-known Mai Tai cocktail was purportedly invented at Trader Vic’s Polynesian themed restaurant in Oakland, CA in 1944. Trader Vic’s amicable rival, Donn Beach claimed to have created the Mai Tai first in 1933 at his own bar in Hollywood called Don’s Beachcomber.
It is unclear who really created the drink. Legend has it that Trader Vic created it one afternoon and tested it on some friends who were visiting from Tahiti. One of them tasted it and cried out “Mai tai roa ae!” Translating to “very good, out of this world, the best,” morphing to become what we call the Mai Tai.
After World War II ended, Donn Beach settled in Waikiki where he opened his second Polynesian Village establishment, entertaining his celebrity friends. Beach also went on to later develop the International Marketplace in Waikiki. In 1953, Trader Vic made his way to Hawaii claiming to have introduced the Mai Tai to Waikiki at the Royal Hawaiian and Moana Surfrider Hotels.
While we may never really know who was the true creator of this famous concoction with the Tahitian name, all can agree that is one tasty cocktail that will be forever synonymous with Hawaii.