In 1934, Victor Jules Bergeron, or Trader Vic as he became known, opened his first restaurant in Oakland, San Francisco. He served Polynesian food with a mix of Chinese, French and American dishes cooked in wood-fired ovens. But he is best known for the rum based cocktails he created. One evening, in 1944, he tested a new drink on two friends from Tahiti, Ham and Carrie Guild. After the first sip, Carrie is said to have exclaimed, "mai tai-roa aé", which in Tahitian means ‘out of this world - the best!’. So Bergeron named his drink the Mai Tai. The original Mai Tai was based on 17 year old Jamaican J.Wray & Nephew rum, which Vic in his own guide describes as being “surprisingly golden in colour, medium bodied, but with the rich pungent flavour particular to the Jamaican blends”. Vic states he used “rock candy” syrup, an old term for the type of strong sugar syrup we prescribe - two parts sugar to one part water. The term 'rock candy' referred to the fact that you could dangle a piece of string in the syrup to encourage crystallisation and make rock candy. When supplies of the Jamaican 17-year-old rum dwindled, Vic started using a combination of dark Jamaican rum and Martinique rum to achieve the desired flavour. Sheer demand in his chain of restaurants later necessitated the introduction of a Mai Tai pre-mix (still available from tradervics.com). Others, particularly Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt, then owner of a Hollywood bar called Don the Beachcomber’s, have also laid claim to the creation of this drink. But as Vic says in his own Bartender’s Guide, “Anybody who says I didn’t create this drink is a dirty stinker.” This recipe is adapted from Victor Bergeron’s ‘Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide’ (1972 revised edition), the original 1944 formula is: 2 ounces of 17-year old J. Wray & Nephew Rum Juice from one fresh lime 1/2 ounce Holland DeKuyper Orange Curacao 1/4 ounce Trader Vic's Rock Candy Syrup 1/2 ounce French Garier Orgeat Syrup Shake vigorously over shaved ice and garnish with a mint sprig.
Created in 2006 by Gonçalo de Sousa Monteiro at Victoria Bar, Berlin, Germany. Gonçalo created this drink whilst listening to Ernest Langlin, so used a combination of the guitarist’s surname and falernum to name his new libation.
Created in 2008 by yours truly (Simon Difford) at the Cabinet Room, London, England. The inspiration for this drink came not from the similarly named discount clothing retailer but the venerable Tiki cocktail itself. Tiki drinks, otherwise known as 'exotics' originated in 1934 when Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, a Louisiana native who had made some money bootlegging rum during Prohibition, opened a bar called Don's Beachcomber in Hollywood and began serving rum based, fruity cocktails. Soon after, Victor 'Trader Vic' Bergeron transformed his restaurant Hinky Dinks into a similar faux Polynesian style. These founding fathers spawned many Tiki imitators and despite a dip in popularity from the 1970s, happily the noughties saw a revival in the fortunes of Tiki.
Adapted from David Embury's 1948 'The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks'. Pronounced 'Ah-bah-Kah-shee Rich-kah-So', the Portuguese name of this Brazilian drink literally translates as 'Extra Delicious Pineapple'.
A version of what became a Tiki classic, sometimes credited to Trader Vic and/or Don the Beachcomber. In his Bartender's Guide (1972 revised edition) Vic remarks, "Fog Cutter, hell. After two of these, you won't even see the stuff."