Now deciding exactly who created the first Mai Tai really depends on whose story you believe, Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron or Donn “Don the Beachcomber” Beach. Both were early proprietors of tiki bars in California (and later Hawaii) and both lay claim to having made the first Mai Tai.
In 1934 Victor Bergeron opened his first restaurant in Oakland, San Fransisco. He served delicious polynesian food but was best known for his rum based cocktails he created. One evening, about 10 years later he created a new drink for some friends from Tahiti. One friend quickly exclaimed ‘Mai tai-roa aé’ meaning ‘out of this world – the best’ – so Bergeron named his drink the Mai Tai, added it to his menu, and later served it throughout his chain of Trader Vic’s restaurants.
The original Mai Tai was made with J. Wray and Nephew rum orange Curacao, rock candy syrup (sugar syrup 2:1 ratio), French orgeat, and fresh lime juice.