The Art Of The Cocktail Part Seven:The Mai Tai

The origin story of the Mai Tai cocktail has two distinct and divergent paths. Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt aka Donn Beach claims, most emphatically, that he invented the drink for his Don The Beachcomber bar in Hollywood in 1933. Unfortunately, other than his, and his adherent’s words, there is little to substantiate this claim.

Victor Bergeron claims, just as emphatically, that he invented the Mai Tai for his Trader Vic’s bar in 1944. What’s more, he had his friends whom he invented the drink for sign affidavits swearing this to be true. Cocktail historians and theoreticians have battled for over half a century as to whose claim is more authentic.

In Bergeron’s own words: “I want to get the record straight.  I originated the Mai Tai. Anybody who says I didn’t create this drink is a stinker.”

Cocktails are no different than gastronomy. To achieve the proper result you must utilize the proper recipe. Walk into a dozen different bars in Austin tonight and you’ll get a dozen different takes on the Mai Tai. And sadly, it’s unlikely that any one of them will resemble this; Victor Bergeron’s recipe for the classic



  • 2 oz Wray & Nephew 17 Year Old Rum
  • .5 oz orgeat
  • .5 oz orange curacao
  • .25 oz simple syrup
  • Juice of one lime (approx. .75 oz lime juice)

Mix all ingredients and shake with ice

Strain into a glass over crushed ice

Garnish with lime shell and a sprig of mint

Note: Since you can no longer purchase Wray & Nephew 17 Year Old Rum it is advised that you mix 2 rums {1 oz each} to achieve the same effect. Appleton Estate 12 Year Old and Clement VSOP are recommended by Matt Robold, a recognized authority on rum who authors the Rumdood website


About RL Reeves Jr

I'm a writer living and working in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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