By Kevin Crossman
The Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai had its genesis in 1983 on a large catamaran sailing between Maui and Lanai. I was just a teen at the time, spending a week in Hawaii for a family vacation. That day, my family took a short cruise over to spend the day on the beach in Lanai. As part of the on board frivolities, the operators offered all you can drink Mai Tais for the grownups, all you can drink punch for the kids.
Everyone had a great time going over, dancing on the boat, laughing, and playing. But the way back was another story. Lots of people trying not to move very fast. Trying to keep it together. People sorry they had had that last Mai Tai. I made a mental note that someday I would try a Mai Tai when I was old enough.
Years later, the Web came and I wanted to make my mark. Sure, my home page went up during the summer of 95, but I wanted to do something big. Something important. Or, at least my own little niche. Eventually, I settled on Lip Balm Anonymous. Definitely a niche offering, but wildly successful for a site which wasnt intended to make money (and hasnt). I was interviewed on the radio and appeared on two television shows, not to mention countless print interviews. The question people kept asking was, whats next?
As fate would have it, I visited Maui again, this time in 1996, and had a great Mai Tai at the Aloha Cantina in Lahaina. When thinking about my next Web venture, my mind kept going back to the Aloha Cantina and that Mai Tai. Sure was a good Mai Tai, but how good was it really? I wanted to recapture the feeling, but how?
Then it hit me like a bolt of lightning... the Search for the Ultimate Mai Tai!
The Mai Tai is a special drink. When you drink one, you are transported to a different place or time. For some people, they drink a Mai Tai and remember great days in Hawaii. To others, they feel like they're back in the swinging 60's, listening to Martin Denny at Don the Beachcomber's. Whatever the case, each person comes away with a different feel or mood when they drink a Mai Tai. It isn't something you have everyday with dinner.
Not only does a good Mai Tai take you away to that special place in your mind, but just finding a good Mai Tai takes some effort. As Rick Carroll writes in his History of the Mai Tai, "the state of the most popular tropical cocktail in the Pacific is shaky. Most Mai Tais served in Hawaii today are too strong, too sweet and, at $7 and up, too expensive. They are pale imitations of the original." Many bars don't even attempt to make a Mai Tai. Others serve Mai Tais which bear very little resemblance to the original Mai Tai. Not that these "imitations" are bad, just different.
In other words, getting a great Mai Tai isn't like walking into the local bar and ordering a Bud. The bars don't just open a bottle with liquid that tastes the same no matter where you order it! When you order a Mai Tai, it really is a crap-shoot: sometimes it's great, and other times it stinks.
That's why we're here: to help you find the best Mai Tais around the world! Hopefully, some of these are in your local area. After all, we've had great Mai Tais away from "traditional" Mai Tai or tiki bars like Trader Vic's. We know not everyone has a tiki bar in their backyard, so the aim here is to help you find the best that can be had in your local area. And maybe your local bar prepares a Mai Tai in a different, but interesting way. That's the kind of information that we want to know. If you've had a great Mai Tai, why not submit your own review?All images and text appearing on these pages are copyright 2003 by Kevin Crossman, all rights reserved, unless otherwise noted. Reproduction or retransmission of this material in any form is prohibited without expressed written permission.