Cocktail Recipes, Pop Culture

Mai Tai Monday at Trader Vic’s

February 9, 2009

So later that same Monday afternoon I had lunch with the Luscious Ladies at Spago, Lana suggested we go to Trader Vic’s in the Beverly Hilton. Trader Vic’s is her favorite spot as much for the old school menu as the newly done modern tiki decor. The patio, which over looks the pool, features surf movies projected on the wall and beds for reclining, but those had been moved for the Academy Awards party that day.

Trader Vic’s has a very long menu of all kinds of historic Tiki drinks like the Raffles Bar Gin Sling, the Scorpion and the Queen’s Park Swizzle, which our waiter said was way too strong to even consider. But for Lana, the only cocktail to order is the Mai Tai. Victor Bergeron aka Trader Vic created the drink in 1944 at his eponymous restaurant in Oakland. For a great and salty account of how he conceived the original Mai Tai–which means out of this world in Tahitian–check out Bergeron’s story here.

The Trader Vic’s site lists several riffs on the Mai Tai recipe; it was originally a rather bracing rum drink, where juice of a whole lime balanced the orgeat almond syrup, simple syrup (called rock candy syrup in those days), orange Curacao and a 15-year aged rum. Unfortunately over the years many places have turned it into a sweet and fruity concoction that Bergeron himself hopefully would not recognize.

Lana likes her Mai Tais strong and dry with Myer’s Dark Rum. So bartender Lance Krack agreed to show us how in a video of him making a Dry Old Style Mai Tai. Besides the rum, some of the key ingredients include fresh lime juice, Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Mix and crushed ice. Looking for a cocktail umbrella? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Stay tuned for the exact recipe and a surprise in the Part 2 post.

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