OK. This is an "out there" kinda drink; meaning that every bartender that serves these thinks he's got the "hands-down best recipe". I'm not gonna argue. I'm not positive, but I think it's most believable that it was invented in 1944-ish at Trader Vic's in Oakland. Some other guy claims it's his about ten(10) or so years before. I don't know. They don't taste the same anyway. The main ingredients are rum, Curaçao liqueur, and lime juice (gotta be squeezed, not out of a bottle). Any recipe should include these, or I think it's not authentic enough. Hey, that's just me.
My opinion of what it should look like:
Here's the International Bartenders Association (IBA) guidelines:
40ml (8 parts) white rum
20ml (4 parts) dark rum
15ml (3 parts) orange curaçao
15ml (3 parts) Orgeat syrup (almond syrup)
10ml (2 parts) fresh lime juice
Shake all ingredients except the dark rum together in a mixer with ice. Strain into glass and float the dark rum onto the top. Garnish and serve with straw.
I'm all OK w/ that. However, as you would guess, I go off the reservation and start playing.
Here's three(3) Trader Vic's recipes:
The Original Trader Vic Formula - 1944
2 oz of 17-year old J. Wray & Nephew Rum over shaved ice
Add juice from one fresh lime
1/2 oz Holland DeKuyper Orange Curaçao
1/4 oz Trader Vic's Rock Candy Syrup
1/2 oz French Garnier Orgeat Syrup
Add a sprig of fresh mint
Recipe #2 - "Old Way" Trader Vic Mai Tai Formula - 1972
1 oz Dark Jamaican rum (15 or 8 year old)
1 oz Martinique Amber rum (St. James)
1/2 ounce Orange Curaçao
1/4 ounce Orgeat syrup
1/4 ounce rock candy (simple) syrup
Juice from one fresh lime
Mix and serve as in the Original Formula
Recipe #3 - Today's Trader Vic Mai Tai - This recipe is what Trader Vic's restaurants serve today (I'm not all so sure I like this one. I actually wouldn't make it this way.):
1/4 Lime squeeze (drop in glass as garnish)
1/2 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz Trader Vic's Mai Tai mix
2 oz Royal Amber Rum
Garnish: maraschino cherry, pineapple, mint sprig
Shake all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into an old fashioned glass over crushed ice. Garnish with fruits and mint, and serve with a straw.
OK. So I've gotta go right now ... I'll be back in a coupla hours. I'll give up what I do then.