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The Mai Tai is an alcoholic cocktail purportedly invented at the Trader Vic's "Polynesian-style" restaurant in Oaklandmarker, Californiamarker in 1944. Trader Vic's rival, Don the Beachcomber, claimed to have created it in 1933 at his then-new eponymous bar (later a famous restaurant) in Hollywoodmarker. Don the Beachcomber's recipe is more complex than that of Vic and tastes quite different.

"Maita'i" is the Tahitian word for "good." The spelling of the drink, however, is two words.

The Trader Vic story of its invention is that the Trader (Victor J. Bergeron) created it one afternoon for some friends who were visiting from Tahiti. One of those friends, Carrie Guild, tasted it and cried out: "Maita'i roa ae!" (Literally "good very!", figuratively "Out of this world! The Best!") — hence the name.


There are many recipes for Mai Tais. Seven of them, including three different versions of Trader Vic's, as well as the recipe of Don the Beachcomber, can be found at Wikibooks Mai Tai.


The mai tai became a such a popular cocktail in the 1950's and 1960's that virtually every restaurant, particularly tiki-themed restaurant or bar served them. The mai tai was also prominently featured in the popular Elvis Presley film "Blue Hawaii."

Today, the mai tai is synonymous with Tiki culture, both of the past and present. Virtually every modern tiki gathering centers around the mai tai in some fashion. Contemporary tikiphiles are quite meticulous about the mai tai and insist that it be prepared according the traditional Trader Vic's recipe. Although many mai tais are served with pineapple juice, exotic cocktail aficionados consider it faux pas for pineapple juice to be included in the drink.

As of 2008, Trader Vic's Restaurant chain has begun to open small establishments called Mai Tai Bars, that primarily serve cocktails and pupus (appetizers).


  1. mai tai - Definition from the Oxford English Dictionary Subscription required
  2. maitai - Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
  3. mai tai - Definitions from

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