Happy hour at Trader Vic’s.

Mai Tai cocktail on a grey background with reflection

The Mai Tai

Victor Bergeron, best known as Trader Vic, in 1944, created this classic cocktail. The Second World War was in full swing on fronts in Europe and the Pacific and Bergeron was keen to create a mood-lifting cocktail made with the best possible ingredients. He first presented the drink to two friends visiting from Tahiti. His guests replied, Mai Tai, which in Tahitian means out of this world.

Since then this drink has suffered some very poor imitators. Some of the worst offenders were sold by Bergeron himself as bottled, mass-produced, cocktail mixers. However, the original is a damn fine cocktail and when made with high quality rum and orgeat syrup it never fails to impress. (Orgeat syrup can be found with a simple web search and may even be sold in your local café as it is a popular addition to modern coffee drinks.)


  • 2 ounces of quality Aged Rum
  • 1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 Orange curacao
  • 1/2 Orgeat syrup
  • a splash of simple syrup if desired


Place all of the ingredients, along with cracked ice, into a cocktail shaker. Give it a vigorous shake and pour unstrained into a large highball, Collins glass, or a festive Tiki inspired glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of fresh mint. Try not to add one of those little paper umbrellas.