The Mai Tai: one iconic drink, two inventors laying claim to its conception.
Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic both made sure their Californian concoction reached Hawaiian shores in the mid 1950s. Sure, the rum cocktail has been tweaked and re-invented by local bartenders since then, but to this day nothing says Aloha on your visit to Hawaii like sipping on a Mai Tai through sprigs of mint or a purple orchid garnish.
There are more places to enjoy a Mai Tai in Waikiki than you can imagine, but after endless research by Intrepid Travel’s Sue Elliot, these five have been chosen for their stand-out location or unique interpretation of the Aloha State’s best-selling libation.
Mai Tai Bar - Royal Hawaiian
You’d expect a bar of this name to have a darn good Mai Tai, and they do! The oceanfront setting is the perfect spot to sit back and see if you can spot someone famous. Mai Tai connoisseurs should go for the Scratch Mai Tai – the resort’s original recipe with all the rum trimmings!
House without a Key - Halekulani
This is the jewel in the Mai Tai crown – not only is the rum cocktail perfectly blended, but you get to sit overlooking Waikiki and Diamond Head for one of the best sunset locations on the island. The Mai Tai itself is an inspired interpretation and is topped off beautifully with a lime wheel, sugar cane stick, mint leaf and Vanda orchid!
Chart House - 1765 Ala Moana Boulevard
The star of the show here is their award-winning Guy Tai. There’s a good chance it will be blended for you by Guy, the creator himself, who 22 years ago came up with his exotic new twist to the iconic cocktail. It’s an all round fabulous place for Happy Hour at sunset or a special dinner overlooking peaceful Ala Wai Yacht Harbor.
RumFire – Sheraton Waikiki
Proving again that Waikiki has no shortage of incredible beachfront bars, here’s where you can sit back and enjoy a selection of epic Mai Tais, because as the name suggests – they know their rum! Spoil yourself with the High-Maka Mai Tai – the name refers to someone who’s got tickets on themselves, but in this case it’s probably justified, since they’re using a 23 year-old rum!
Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand - Waikiki Grand Hotel
Hula’s Mai Tai is hand-crafted and it shows – it’s a great fresh take on the original. The bar has been a legend amongst the GLBT community since the 1970s but everyone is welcome. The time of day determines Hula's personality and in the afternoon it's an after-the-beach bar with an unbeatable view of Diamond Head.