Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Mai Tai - A to Z Challenge

When people visit our house for the first time, they all want to see the tiki bar. We have a little bar in the corner of our second floor. We’ve decorated it with a few tiki signs and prints, a vintage spaghetti lamp, and a bunch of tiki mugs and glassware.

Believe me when I tell you, my little bar is nothing compared to some other home tiki bars!

TIKItten - Luna
perched on our big tiki
My friend, Tiki J, got me into the tiki thing. The entire bottom floor of her house is all dimmed, thatched, retro-ed, vintaged, and totally tiki-ed out! It is amazing!

Now, you might be wondering what exactly tiki is… you’ve seen those plastic idol cups at Party City, but can’t imagine what’s so special about that. Wiki sums it up much better than I can: “Tiki culture is a 20th-century theme used in Polynesian-style restaurants and clubs originally in the United States and then, to a lesser degree, around the world. Although inspired in part by Tiki carvings and mythology, the connection is loose and stylistic, being an American kitsch form and not a Polynesian fine art form.” You can find the rest of the article here.

Let me introduce you to my favorite tiki cocktail, the Mai Tai. If you’ve ever ordered one of these and received something pink or red, something containing orange or pineapple juice, you haven’t had a real Mai Tai.

Mai Tais should be tan or brown!
Here’s a recipe based on Trader Vic’s original 1944 Mai Tai:

1 oz dark Jamaican rum
1 oz Martinique rum
0.5 oz orange curacao
0.25 oz orgeat syrup
0.25 oz simple syrup
juice of 1 fresh lime

Serve over crushed ice and garnish with the lime rind and mint.

To find tiki near you, read Tiki Road Trip by James Teitelbaum.

If you want to get in on some amazing national tiki tours and gatherings, you’ll want to check out the Fraternal Order of Moai. Hanging out with tiki enthusiasts is a blast!


  1. Your tiki bar is awesome! I am looking for a house, and hoping for one where I can create my own happy hour space in the basement just like this.

    And I am with you, I don't know where people got the notion that a mai tai was some kind of grenadine-laced, syrupy mess, but your recipe is right on!

  2. Ha! You take your tiki seriously. :-) This was an interesting post. I had never given much thought to the background of "tiki". Thank you :-)

  3. I didn't realize that home 'tiki bars' existed...I remember the term from my college days, although I don't think I ever drank one. Enjoy the remainder of the challenge...

  4. How fun! I haven't had a good mai tai in a long time.