The Mai Tai is perhaps the most famous Tiki cocktail for a good reason. Trader Vic’s is credited with inventing the drink, and the first person to try it was said to cry out “Mai Tai!” which means “the best—out of this world” in Tahitian. The Mai Tai took a star turn by earning a prominent role in the Elvis film Blue Hawaii.
The Mai Tai was created as a way to showcase the flavors of good-quality rum. It should never be neon-colored or overly sweet. A proper Mai Tai is a deep amber hue and allows the rum to shine through with the other ingredients. While some Mai Tai variants call for pineapple juice, this recipe omits it in favor of the more classic recipe favored by Martin Cate’s award-winning Tiki bar Smuggler’s Cove’s.