The Untold Truth Of Tiki Bars

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  The Untold Truth Of Tiki Bars

If a Mai Tai is the first drink that comes to mind when you think of tiki bars, you’re not alone. In fact, the proprietors of Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s both claim it was one of the first tiki drinks that came to their minds, too. And as you can imagine, that created some controversy. Donn Beach’s story was that he created a drink called the Q. B. Cooler, and then Trader Vic stole the formula to create what we now know as the famous Mai Tai — a drink name Donn claims he’d already come up with as well (via Letters and Liquor). 

Meanwhile, Trader Vic tells a different tale, one in which he capitalized on the popularity of his other exotic drinks by opening 17-year-old bottle of rum and mixing it with lime, orange curaçao, sugar syrup, and Orgeat. After tasting this concoction, a friend from Tahiti declared “mai tai – roa ae,” Tahitian for “out of this world – the best.” Thus, the drink was named Mai Tai, and a legend was born. As the story goes, the success of Trader Vic’s Mai Tai did not sit well with Donn Beach, who eventually sued. The contentious cocktail issue was put to rest in 1970, when a lawsuit was settled in favor of Trader Vic — who is credited to this day with creating arguably the most famous tiki cocktail there is (via Ultimate Mai Tai).

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