If any drink is emblematic of Tiki culture it’s got to be the Mai Tai. Unfortunately, the forlorn crappy cocktail of many a luau has an ill-deserved reputation. The Mai Tai is not a drink but rather, like most cocktails, it’s a time line of sorts.

The original Mai Tai, a Trader Vic’s signature recipe from 1944, was a Daiquiri of sorts; one hell of a sophisticated Daiquiri, but still a Daiquiri with its blend of rum, lime juice and sweeteners. 

Over the years the Mai Tai has taken a few wrong turns, turning into a fruit-driven punch wannabe. That’s where the bad reputation comes in. Cheap fruit juice, bad rum, and a frilly umbrella does not a Mai Tai make.