||Mai Tai's in Waikiki???
Joined: Apr 09, 2002
|Posted: 2009-10-10 6:01 pm  Permalink|
It's been 7 years since we strolled the sands of Waikiki but we will be returning there this coming weekend. Last summer we visited Maui and were blown away at how terrible the Mai Tai's were. We've always had great Mai Tai's at the Sandbar at the Sheraton Waikiki (which is actually where we had our first MaiTais) and are hoping that they haven't switched to the more passion fruit based style of Maui. Don't get me wrong, as a frequent visitor to Trader Vics in Emeryville, I fully understand that a Waikiki Mai Tai may be considered blasphemy but for the "Island Style" variety, Waikiki has provided me with some of the best I've had. So the question is, has anyone had Mai Tais in or near Waikiki lately and is it still possible to find a decent one there?
Joined: May 16, 2008
From: Dogtown, USA
|Posted: 2009-10-10 6:26 pm  Permalink|
I've had my share of Mai Tai's in Waikiki. Obviously they're all Hawaiian style with pineapple juice. By far the best was at the House Without a Key Lounge at the Halekulani Hotel. They also made me Zombie which wasn't on the drink menu. That was good too.
FYI, drinks at La Mariana are OK but a little disappointing given their old-school Tiki rep.
I remember talking to Charlie a couple of years ago at Tiki-Ti. He's a regular there who works the door. He told me he did a Mai Tai hunt in Honolulu and I think he said his favorite was at Duke's. The last time I was at Duke's, I was drinking Jack and Coke so I can't vouch for Mai Tai.
Hmmm... I think there might be more than 1 Duke's in Waikiki. I was thinking of this place
[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2009-10-11 10:18 ]
Joined: Sep 17, 2003
From: Andover, England
|Posted: 2009-10-11 09:34 am  Permalink|
The House without a Key. I enjoyed them there.
Joined: Jun 26, 2003
From: the birthplace of the Mai Tai
|Posted: 2009-10-11 09:57 am  Permalink|
House without a Key and the water-front bar at the Royal Hawaiian.
The tastiest "Hawaiian-style" Mai Tai by far. Just don't be expecting Trader Vic's!
[ This Message was edited by: Molokai Mike 2009-10-11 13:49 ]
Grand Member (4 years)
Joined: Sep 25, 2006
From: OAKLAND, baby
|Posted: 2009-10-11 10:32 am  Permalink|
Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian. Good island mai tais, outside right on the beach, and free live music.
Joined: May 17, 2006
From: Costa Mesa, CA
|Posted: 2009-10-11 4:30 pm  Permalink|
Here's my 2 cents:
All the mai tais around here are definitely Hawaiian style, can't think of anyone that really has a classic mai tai.
- Not sure which place the Sandbar was in the Waikiki Sheraton, but it may not be there any more. That Sheraton now has Rumfire, which opened maybe a year or so ago. I was there once, and hated it. They do have an amazing selection of rum, the largest in Waikiki, if not Hawaii, but the drinks were really bad and super expensive. I had a mai tai there, which was something like $12 for happy hour, and it sucked. Ordered some Zaya on the rocks next, and they poured a strict 1 oz. for $18.
- I like the Duke's mai tai. Not overly sweet like most and fairly strong.
- Check out the Royal Hawaiian - they just did a renovation recently and re-did the bar. I think the drinks are now better.
- I just had my first House Without a Key mai tai recently, and I did not care for it. It was actually too sweet and not that great of an overall taste.
- I love La Mariana, and also really like their mai tai. It has a different taste from most and are pretty strong. For me, I can drink these all day.
- The best in Waikiki, IMHO, is the Chart House near the Ilikai. Ask for the Guy Tai, not the Mai Tai. It is made by Guy the bartender, comes in a pint glass and is quite tasty and even comes with mint (which is rarely seen in Waikiki).
Other honorable mention for drinks:
- Soul de Cuba in Chinatown is awesome. Super small place - maybe 8 tables and a bar that seats 4. Great Cuban food and a small list of mixed drinks that are made very well. Also a nice little selection of higher end rum.
- 39 Hotel in Chinatown. This is a nightclub, so many nights are packed with the younger crowd listening to DJ's. I was there at about 4:30 in the afternoon, and they were just setting up, so we were the only ones there. They have a great roof top patio in the back and their drinks were pretty good. Some unusual concoctions which were more high end than any place around, and they were cheap. Half price for happy hour, so those labor intensive drinks were only $4! They were doing Tiki Tuesdays for a while, featuring 4 special Tiki drinks and Hawaiian music, but not sure if that is till going on.
All in all I completely agree - it is very hard to find a good mai tai in Hawaii. Most range from poor to horrible! It's also hard to find a decent selection of rum. I would say 90% of bars here don't go beyond Hana Bay, Bacardi, or Captain.
I was just on Maui recently, and most mai tais were bad, except for Mama's Fish House, which were pretty good.
Joined: Apr 09, 2002
|Posted: 2009-10-11 8:58 pm  Permalink|
Thanks for all the tips everyone. Looks like we'll definately be hitting the House without a Key. The Royal Hawaiian is always on our list anyway so it sounds like that will be a good stop as well. Mo-Eye, the Sandbar was the little bar right next to the pool at the Sheraton with the round roof. It was a really casual pool-side bar that made a great Island style Mai Tai. Sad to hear it's no longer around as the place had a lot of sentimental value to us and we always kicked off every trip to Oahu there. Alas, I guess time marches on! Thanks again everyone! This forum is the BEST!
Grand Member (8 years)
Joined: Mar 04, 2005
From: Mission (Impossible) Viejo, Ca
|Posted: 2009-10-13 11:49 pm  Permalink|
Try Chuck's Steakhouse in The Outrigger above Duke's. I think you wil be impressed.
Joined: Apr 09, 2003
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
|Posted: 2009-10-16 12:12 pm  Permalink|
I love the view of the Pacific Ocean, through the Coconut trees, which are illuminated by Tiki torches, as one enjoys the breeze of the trade winds at Tiki's Grill.
Joined: May 16, 2008
From: Dogtown, USA
|Posted: 2009-10-17 11:01 pm  Permalink|
On 2009-10-10 18:26, JOHN-O wrote:
I remember talking to Charlie a couple of years ago at Tiki-Ti. He's a regular there who works the door. He told me he did a Mai Tai hunt in Honolulu and I think he said his favorite was at Duke's.
I stand corrected. Charlie says the best Mai Tai is at the Turtle Bay Hilton.
That however is located on the North Shore, not Waikiki.
He also warned that the drinks at the Royal Hawaiian have really gone down hill. I would agree based on my visit from several years ago. 15 years ago those drinks were almost Tiki-Ti strength. Hopefully the drinks have come back but please share your feedback when you return.
[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2009-10-18 09:14 ]
Joined: Apr 16, 2009
From: Mr. C's on the Coast Highway
|Posted: 2009-10-18 12:39 pm  Permalink|
The House Without a Key @ the Halekulani Hotel was both highly recommended and outstanding!
Joined: Jan 23, 2006
|Posted: 2009-12-07 12:34 pm  Permalink|
Chart House was a great tip, thanks Mo-Eye. Never stumbled on this place before, Guy Tais were tasty and it has an old school vibe that has all but disappeared in Waikiki. Funny a United flight attendant also recommended Guy Tais to us when we bought the crappy TV Mai Tais on the plane.
Rumfire was a surprise hit for us, we were getting happy hour Mai Tais for $5, and they were perfectly passable. Great spot for sunset, too, which happens during happy hour this time of year.
Royal Hawaiian was a big disappointment. The Mai Tai Bar has been an anchor for us on previous trips. We always liked their Mai Tais. The new "Scratch Mai Tai" is purportedly the original recipe and allegedly made with fresh squeezed juice. We found them too sweet and syrupy tasting. They have the Royal Mai Tai now which is supposed to be better, but $15 IIRC. We were too cheap to try it. Plus the rehab ruined the vibe of the place. The Mai Tai bar is architecturally the same, just new furniture and bar top that looks like kitchen counter (and tidier behind the bar) but the old standby Surf Room is now some trying-to-be-swank high end contemporary restaurant. And the worst part is now they play a really odd mix of music. Lotsa classic rock. Not that I don't like classic rock, just felt really out place (much like the ill-fated Rock-A-Tiki in Chicago.) Bad idea. To top it off there was this knucklehead haole bartender who thought he was the s**t, but was pretty inept. We came back another night, saw him and left. Came back another time and there was an Asian or Hawaiian bartender (too drunk to remember) who was fine. Still bad music though. We tried some non-Mai Tai drinks and they were good.
Duke's Mai Tais are okay, but other than the location, the place and the staff always bum me out.
There is one place where you can get a Trader Vic style Mai Tai... but... I just can't say it!
Joined: Apr 25, 2008
From: Long Beach
|Posted: 2012-03-15 4:48 pm  Permalink|
I was on Oahu a couple of months ago when I realized I was having some of the best Mai Tais ever while hanging at the Halekani at The House Without a Key. The waterfront setting with the old banyan tree casting warm tropical moonlight shadows over the hapa haole band didn't hurt either. But in the last few days I was wondering what made that mai tai so memorable and in my opinion no ka oi. So with an easy google search I found the recipe and plan on replicating it as soon as possible. So just thought I would share in case you can't make it over to the islands anytime soon. Okole Maluna!
Halekulani Mai Tai
3/4 ounce (1-1/2 tablespoons) Bacardi Gold rum
3/4 ounce (1-1/2 tablespoons) Bacardi Select rum
1-1/4 ounce (2-1/2 tablespoons) lemon juice
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) Lemon Heart 151 rum
>> Mai tai mix:
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) orgeat syrup
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) orange curacao
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) rock candy syrup (simple syrup)
Combine mai tai mix ingredients and pour over crushed ice. Add Bacardi rums and lemon juice. Gently pour Lemon Heart rum on top so it floats.
Garnish with lime wedge, lime wheel, sugar-cane stick, mint leaf and a vanda orchid. Serves 1.
Joined: Aug 10, 2004
|Posted: 2012-03-15 9:25 pm  Permalink|
Wow!!, a Hawaiian Mai Tai without Pineapple Juice or Grenadine,
a rare find indeed.
Joined: Sep 17, 2003
From: Andover, England
|Posted: 2012-03-16 02:09 am  Permalink|
Thanks for the recipe for the Halekulani Mai Tai. I loved these in Hawaii, and now I can try one at home.