Cocktail mixing is considered a form of art, because it takes a lot of skill and experience to manage mixing the perfect drink; furthermore, it takes imagination and good knowledge of alcohols and liqueurs to create a cocktail from scratch. However, sometimes good cocktails are the result of happenstance, when someone thirsty just mixes the ingredients at their disposal. The Mai Tai cocktail wasn’t intentional, nor was it a mistake, but its origins are nevertheless vague.
There are basically two inventors of the cocktail, though one of them created something that today is considered to be somewhat more complex than the usual Mai Tai cocktail. This drink is usually associated with exotic settings because it has a more tropical taste and because one story says its original inventor, Victor J. Bergeron, created it for some friends that lived in Tahiti and came to visit. He supposedly made this drink for them at his Oakland bar, the Trader Vic. The name was involuntarily given by one of the tasters who exclaimed in Tahitian “Maita’i roa ae!” which means “very good”.
Although the name of the cocktail is spelled differently, it nonetheless has Tahitian origins. The Mai Tai cocktail is usually served in a highball glass, on the rocks. The ingredients used are white rum, dark rum, orange curaçao, fresh lime juice and Orgeat syrup. The quantities vary, but the official IBA recipe can be found online for those who wish to try it. All the ingredients of the Mai Tai, except the dark rum, are shaken together in a shaker with ice, and then poured in a glass filled with ice. The dark rum is poured last, to float over the rest of the drink, and the glass can be garnished with pineapple and lime.
The other person who claimed they had invented the Mai Tai cocktail was Don the Beachcomber, who had just opened a bar by the same name in Hollywood. He asserted that he had invented the drink in 1933, which would have been 10 years earlier than Bergeron’s recipe. Although we will never know who invented the drink first, we at least have both original recipes, so people can decide for themselves which is best. Furthermore, there are many other recipes and adaptations of the Mai Tai, some of which are recreations of the two original recipes. All of them are found free on the Internet, so perhaps you can use them as inspiration to create your own variation.