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Tuesday, July 9, 2024

BOOK/A TABLE - Trader Vic's Mai Tai

I was tearing through Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series when I first visited the Bay Area. The fantastic story of a group of friends loose in 1970s San Francisco evokes a sexy, thrilling era that must have seemed like a dream even while living it—and the great city certainly came alive for me during my trip as I ventured through its vibrant neighborhoods on the lookout for each beloved character I was reading about.

One of the tales concerns stodgy businessman Edgar Halcyon and the difficult relationship with his wife, Frannie—and her penchant for Mai Tais. Early on, Edgar confronts Frannie at eleven-fifteen in the morning. “She was perched on the sofa on the sun porch. Her legs were curled up under her Thai silk muumuu. Her wig was askew. She smelled of rum and Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Mix.”

Poor old Frannie, resigned to swilling some godawful mix. Surely we can do better than that! Here’s a recipe for the real deal that was originally invented at Trader Vic’s in 1944.

Trader Vic’s Mai Tai
Adapted from
Serves 1

1 cup crushed ice
1 lime
2 oz. Jamaican rum
½ oz. orgeat (almond syrup)
½ oz. orange curaçao liqueur
¼ oz. simple syrup
1 cup ice
1 sprig fresh mint

Fill a rocks glass with 1 cup crushed ice. Set aside in the freezer.
Cut lime in half. Juice both halves into a cocktail shaker. Set one rind aside for serving; discard the other.
Add rum, orgeat, curaçao, and simple syrup to the cocktail shaker. Add 1 cup ice, cover, and shake until chilled.
Place the reserved lime rind into the chilled rocks glass. Strain Mai Tai in a glass and float the mint sprig on the edge.

But why stop there? Serve the following delicious Polynesian deee-lites along with Mai Tais at your next cocktail party!

Chinese Spareribs from Tyler Florence. While the ribs cook, the aromas fill the kitchen and beyond, all gently spicy and warm like Christmas.

Chinese Roast Pork Probably my favorite of these three recipes—it’s actually red food coloring that turns the meat pink!

Coconut Shrimp Try frying with Panko bread crumbs added into the mix.

Do enjoy. Thanks to for the Mai Tai photo!

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