This Chicago Bar Is Serving an $800 Mai Tai Made With the Original Ingredients From the 1940s

The Mai Tai was first created in 1944, and since then it’s undergone so many changes that many current versions of the drink bear little resemblance to the original. But now One Chicago bar is taking the Mai Tai back to the olden days.

The Bamboo Room, within the tiki bar Three Dots and a Dash, recently debuted its spring cocktail menu, and one upcoming addition is a spin on the very first Mai Tai ever poured. The 1944 Vintage Mai Tai will include the original vintage Wray & Nephew 15-Year-Old Rum and Curaçao used almost a century ago by Victor Bergeron, or Trader Vic, the creator of the Mai Tai. As such, it carries a commanding $800 price tag.

More from Robb Report

Back in the mid-’40s, the story goes, Bergeron was behind the bar of the original Trader Vic’s in Oakland, California, when a few of his Tahitian friends stopped by and asked him to whip up something featuring Jamaican rum. Bergeron added lime juice, orgeat (almond syrup), and orange curaçao, resulting in a drink that caused his pals to say “Maita’i roa a’e,” or something like “the best of all.” Bergeron shortened that phrase to Mai Tai, and the rest is history.

Kevin Beary
Kevin Beary of the Bamboo Room

Over the years, though, the cocktail has become bastardized into a sugary drink containing all sorts of fruit juices and sweeteners, causing it to be denegrated alongside the likes of Long Island Ice Teas and Strawberry Daiquiris. But with the 1944 Vintage Mai Tai, the Bamboo Room and its beverage director, Kevin Beary, are going back to the basics. It’s a perfect encapsulation of Beary’s philosophy when it comes to mixology.

“The basis of tiki was—and is—about using the best of everything,” he told Robb Report in 2018. “Today, that means applying modern techniques to old drinks.”

Given the rarity of the ingredients involved in the 1944 Vintage Mai Tai, fewer than a dozen cocktails will be available when the drink hits the Bamboo Room’s menu in a couple of weeks. But if you’re able to get your hands on one, it might feel—and taste—as if you’ve been transported back to that pivotal moment at the original Trader Vic’s, with Bergeron and his friends making cocktail history.

Best of Robb Report

Sign up for Robb Report's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.