“Let’s get the record straight…I originated the Mai Tai.”

Trader Vic’s founder Victor Bergeron, quoted above, and Don the Beachcomber founder Donn Beach (Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt) both take credit for inventing the Mai Tai. They both have their stories — and their recipes — so it’s up to you which one to believe.

Beach invented his Mai Tai Swizzle in 1933, made with rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, Cointreau, falernum (a spicy syrup made with lime, almonds, ginger and clove) and a few other ingredients. Bergeron claims to have developed his own Mai Tai without any knowledge of the Mai Tai Swizzle in 1944. (For more information on tiki history, classic tiki drinks and tiki twists, pick up a copy of the April-May 2015 issue of My Table).


Regardless of the originator, the Trader Vic’s recipe has become the Mai Tai that people recognize and request today and — in our opinion — rightfully so. We stopped in at Stone’s Throw and asked manager Caleb Gutierrez to demonstrate making a Trader Vic’s Mai Tai.


2 oz. aged rum
3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. orange curaçao
1/4 oz. rich simple syrup, also known as rock candy syrup
1/4 oz. orgeat
1 cup crushed ice
1 mint sprig, for garnish

METHOD: Combine rum, lime juice, orange curaçao, rich simple syrup and orgeat in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Pour in a glass filled with crushed ice (double Old Fashioned glass, if available). Garnish with a sprig of mint, even a wedge of pineapple if you’re feeling light-hearted.