This drink is widely believed to be created by trader vic in 1944. Some sources claim that it was actually 1934 and others say it was Donn Beachcomber all of which is inaccurate. The Mai Tai itself actually appears as recent as:
Time: Volume 86 by Briton Hadden, Henry Robinson Luce in 1965
“But Trader Vic knows my secret (he should — he invented me!) He’s just put the right blend of three prize rums in one bottle. Pour equal portions of Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Rum and Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Mix into a glass crammed with ice.”
This may be one of the earliest printings of the Mai Tai, but the drink is much older. Many do not seem to know that this drink was originally called a “Trader Vic Punch” and appears in Trader Vic’s Food and Drink in 1951, it also appears a year later in:
Trader Vic’s Kitchen kibitzer by Trader Vic in 1952
What is odd is the is one of the most researched classic cocktails to date and it appears that not a single person had a clue, had they read the book themselves, they would see that the Trader Vic Punch is strikingly similar to a Mai Tai and no Mai Tai is listed, that’s some Food and Drink for thought.
The idea that Beachcomber invented the drink in the 1930’s is just blatantly false. Trader Vic didn’t even copyright his own syrup which is used in the recipe until:
Catalog of copyright entries: by Library of Congress. Copyright Office in 1947
“TRADER VIC © Trader Vic’s orgeat syrup. Label. © Victor J. Bergeron aka Trader Vic; 30 Jun 48;”
It is very clear why the recipe confusions took place, many bars had known of the Mai Tai, but getting your hands on the premix, especially during the 60’s was next to impossible, unless you lived in Oakland, even then it was difficult. So many establishments started substituting ingredients, this is exactly why we see Creme de Noyaux often used.
This drink dates between 1947 – 1951 and was originally called a Trader Vic Punch; it contained at least as of then:
Shake these ingredients:
Strain into a double old fashioned glass or old fashioned glass filled with fresh ice cubes.