Recipe: Mai Tai from Trader Vic's

Categories: Behind the Bar

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Lauren Gilger
The Mai Tai at Trader Vic's.
​When J.K. Grence is working behind the bar at Trader Vic's at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, he imagines himself to be playing Penn to the other bartender's Teller.

"I'm standing there talking constantly," he laughs, "while he's just standing there silently making drinks."

He's busy telling you stories about the drinks behind the bar -- the real way to make a martini (with vermouth), the history of the tiki bar's classic, tropical drinks.

"The traditions are traditions for a reason," he says. "But the thing is, if you don't play with things, you're not going to come up with anything new. You're going to get stuck in the past."

Today is no different, he's giving you the classic tiki bar cocktail, the Mai Tai. It's been made at Trader Vic's since 1944, when Vic himself invented the recipe. (For the details on what happened to that original version, check out our profile of Grence, here).

Trader Vic's Mai Tai:

Juice of one large lime
1/2 ounce Orgeat Syrup
1/2 ounce Orange Curaçao

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Lauren Gilger
J.K. Grence, shakin' up the classic Mai Tai at Trader Vic's.

1/4 ounce Rock Candy simple syrup
1 ounce aged Jamaican Rum (Grence prefers Appleton Estate)
1 ounce aged Martinique Rum
(you can substitute the combination of rums for 2 ounces of Jamaican rum, but Grence says the mix of flavors makes for a better cocktail)

Shake and pour into a cold glass full of ice. Garnish with various tropical fruits; Grence uses lime, pineapple, a maraschino cherry and mint sprigs.

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