you don"t need to save the crystal for a special day, even water tastes better in a "Fancy Glass"

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Fancy Glass FRIDAYs returns with a tribute to the MAI TAI

I Like a good mai tai, not a fakey, sweet, or too strong one. Not one made with cheap rum- but a real mai tai. So today in Honor of the Mai Tai- a history lesson. from

The classic Mai Tai is an unforgettable cocktail, an icy Jamaican rum and fresh lime juice drink with a subtle hint of oranges and almonds and a sprig of fresh mint for garnish.

Now, that's a Mai Tai.

The Mai Tai may be Polynesian in name, but it's American in origin, created not on a tropical lagoon but on the mudflats of San Franciso's East Bay in 1944, by a legendary California restaurateur, the late Vic Bergeron of Trader Vic's fame.

"There's been a lot of conversation over the beginning of the Mai Tai. And I want to get the record straight," Bergeron said before he died. "I originated the Mai Tai. Many others have claimed credit. All this aggravates my ulcer completely. Anyone who says I didn't create this drink is a dirty stinker."

Don the Beachcomber claimed he created the drink but circumstantial evidence favors the Trader, who, in a 1947 book, "The Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide (Revised)," told how he originated the Mai Tai in his Oakland restaurant:

"In 1944 after success with several exotic rum drinks, I felt a new drink was needed. I thought about all the really successful drinks- martinis, manhattans, daiquiris, all basically simple drinks. "I took down a bottle of 17-year old rum. It was J. Wray & Nephew from Jamaica-surprisingly golden in color, medium bodied, but with the rich pungent flavor particular to the Jamaican blends.

"The flavor of this great rum wasn't meant to be overpowered with heavy addition of fruit juices and flavorings.

"I took a fresh lime, added some orange curacao from Holland, a dash of rock candy syrup, and a dollop of French orgeat for its subtle almond flavor.

"I added a generous amount of shaved ice and shook it vigorously by hand to produce the marriage I was after. Half the lime shell went into each drink for color and I stuck in a branch of fresh mint.

"I gave the first two to Eastham and Carrie Guild, friends from Tahiti who were there that night. Carrie took one sip and said, 'Mai tai roa ae.'

"In Tahitian this means,'out of this world, the best.' Well, that was that. I named the drink 'Mai Tai.'"

The Mai Tai became popular at Trader Vic's restaurants in Oakland, San Francisco and Seattle. In 1953, Bergeron introduced the Mai Tai to Hawaii at the Royal Hawaiian and Moana Hotels whose well-heeled guests arrived by Matson Line steamships.

It was the right drink at the right place at the right time.

The Original Formula - 1944

  • 2 ounces of 17-year old J. Wray & Nephew Rum over shaved ice.
  • Add juice from one fresh lime.
  • 1/2 ounce Holland DeKuyper Orange Curacao.
  • 1/4 ounce Trader Vic's Rock Candy Syrup.
  • 1/2 ounce French Garier Orgeat Syrup
  • Shake vigorously.
  • Add a sprig of fresh mint

"Old Way" Mai Tai Formula - 1997

  • 1 ounce Fine Jamaican Rum (15 or 8 year old)
  • 1 ounce Martinique Rum (St. James)
  • 1/2 ounce Orange Curacao
  • 1/2 ounce Orgeat Syrup
  • Juice from one fresh lime (about 3/4 ounce)
  • Mix and serve as in the Original Formula

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