Mai Tai and Blue Hawaiian Cocktails

Victor Jules Bergeron, Jr., founder of the tiki restaurants that bear his nickname “Trader Vic’s,” claimed to have invented the Mai Tai when he had an overstock of rum. When he served it to a guest, the drinker supposedly exclaimed “Maita‘i! roa!”, a Tahitian phrase loosely translated as “way cool!” Vic’s rival, Don the Beachcomber, the eponymous owner of his own Polynesian restaurants, also claims to have invented the Mai Tai, but of course, years earlier. Whoever it was, we thank them.

As for the sky-blue cocktail, be sure to move your hips Elvis-style as you shake this drink. At the point in his career when he starred in the musical Blue Hawaii, the King was just a crown prince. The previous generation’s stars, including Sinatra and Crosby, were the big names. Presley was for kids, at least then. But back to the drink. This is the kind of cocktail that gives tiki cocktails a good name.–Rick Rodgers and Heather Maclean

LC Groovy Note

Get out your go go boots and halter tops. The ’60s are back. In a big way. Witness Nicole Miller’s fall 2012 show, which featured groovy outfits, psychedelic florals, and hippy hats. Marimekko’s retro patterns are more coveted now than ever. Flared jeans have been lingering in popularity for about the past six years or so. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, blue-hued Blue Hawaiians and retro Mai Tais are still around. But if you’re going to do ’60s cocktails, then really do ’60s cocktails. You know, really embrace the spirit of these cocktails. We can think of no better way to do this than with paper umbrellas. You know you want to.

Mai Tai and Blue Hawaiian Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 5 M
  • Serves 1


  • For the Mai Tai
  • 1 ounce aged or dark rum
  • 1 ounce silver (light) rum
  • 1 ounce triple sec or Curacao
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon orgeat or almond-flavored beverage syrup (Orgeat is a flavoring with almond and hints of vanilla and rosewater. Almond flavoring syrup also works well.)
  • 1 teaspoon grenadine (optional)
  • Fresh pineapple wedges
  • Maraschino cherry
  • Fresh mint sprigs
  • For the Blue Hawaiian
  • 1 ounce silver (light) rum
  • 1 ounce blue Curacao
  • 1 ounce cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez
  • 2 ounces pineapple juice
  • Fresh pineapple wedge
  • Maraschino cherry


  • Make the Mai Tai
  • 1. Fill a large tiki or hurricane glass with ice. Half fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the rums, triple sec, lime juice, orgeat, and grenadine, if using, to the shaker. Shake well. Strain the cocktail into the glass. Garnish with the pineapple, cherry, and mint. Imbibe.
  • Make the Blue Hawaiian
  • 2. Fill a large tiki or hurricane glass with ice. Half fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the rum, Curacao, cream of coconut, and pineapple juice to the shaker. Shake well. (Prefer a frozen Blue Hawaiian? Process the liquid ingredients with 1 cup cracked ice in a blender until smooth.) Strain the cocktail into the glass. Garnish with the pineapple and cherry. Imbibe.
Thirsty for more? Sip on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Joan Osborne

Mar 19, 2012

What’s not to love about this Blue Hawaiian, made from rum, Curaçao, cream of coconut, and pineapple juice, oh my! We had ours straight up, but I bet they’d be great frozen, too. Pretty and refreshing, and overall, a very nice cocktail.

Testers Choice
Bette Fraser

Mar 19, 2012

This is a classic Mai Tai and would make Trader Vic or Don the Beachcomber proud. So many bars, especially in Hawaii, make very fruity or pineappley versions of this cocktail. A true Mai Tai is supposed to have a kick, and this one does. Treat yourself and make this. You’ll never order one on the beach again.

Testers Choice
Bette Fraser

Mar 19, 2012

The Blue Hawaiian is a classic cocktail that’s frequently ruined by hotels, bars, and restaurants trying to be cheap. This is how it’s supposed to taste. Try it, you’ll like it. P.S. Use good rum.

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