The secret recipe of the Mai Tai

Here’s an interesting essay on the Mai Tai. It explains how a drink with such a closely guarded secret recipe (like the “Flaming Moe”) could cause such confusion down the line. The drink wasn’t even published in Trader Vic’s books:
Since Trader Vic was not about to share this recipe with his customers, much less other bartenders, if somebody happened to have a Mai Tai at Trader Vic, and then innocently attempted to order it at another bar, they would of course have a problem. At first, most bartenders would not have heard of this drink before, and so would admit their inability to make this drink for their customer, but in many cases they would try to quiz the customer as to what they recall about the drink, and thus be able to provide them with a close approximation. Imagine the customer describing the drink as: “It was a rum drink, with some sort of juices in it, and I think a bit of a reddish color”. This of course could describe almost any of the drinks served by these Tiki bars, and yet the bartender would often try to piece something together that would make their customer happy. Often, they would come up with something that probably tasted quite good, and thus the next time a customer came in asking for a Mai Tai, they would deftly mix up another one of these drinks and eventually it would probably even make it onto their bar menu. This process would have then eventually brought about a dozen different recipes being served at the dozens of different Tiki bars across the country. Eventually, the dilution of this drink would have gotten so great, that the various bars themselves would have forgotten exactly how they came about these recipes, to the point of thinking that perhaps “they” were the origin of this by now common cocktail.

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