||Mai Tai's in Waikiki???
Grand Member (8 years)
Joined: Jun 17, 2002
|Posted: 2012-10-22 1:42 pm  Permalink|
Super wonderful photos. We haven't been there in 7 years and need to go. Wendy
Grand Member (first year)
Joined: Oct 04, 2004
From: Da Big Island
|Posted: 2012-10-23 05:57 am  Permalink|
Thank you for documenting your exhaustive research!
Joined: Jul 18, 2010
From: Las Vegas
|Posted: 2012-10-24 6:48 pm  Permalink|
Joined: May 16, 2008
From: Dogtown, USA
|Posted: 2012-10-28 7:06 pm  Permalink|
On 2012-06-08 19:12, Careless Navigator wrote:
We are just about to head back to Waikiki for our fifth visit. Boy have l pondered the Waikiki Mai Tai quest over the years and l have to agree with most of what has been previously written here. Maybe l could add my summary.
First of all l have this theory that there is an extra ingredient in a Mai Tai that can make it good or bad and that is location. The most average Mai Tai can taste better than it is in a great bar or for that matter watching the sun go down on Waikiki Beach. Everyone is right, it's not easy to find a great Mai Tai in Waikiki but you will have some of your most memorable Mai Tai drinking experiences there. I hate busy vacation destinations but l love Waikiki...go figure.
So here goes my top ten.
1. The Chart House Guy Tai... good value, taste, location, great bar staff and old world charm. l believe it's the only independently run Chart House and it is owned by legendary surfer Joey Cabell.
2. House Without a Key. Not cheap but great taste and location. If you are into the romance of days past, have a Mai Tai under the Banyan tree listening to the Hawaiian band as the sun goes down.
3. La Mariana. Technically not Waikiki but all great Mai Tai crawls start there in the afternoon. Ok drinks but boy oh boy, for everyone who's into Poly Pop this is a spiritual home.
4.The Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian. Since they had the make-over a couple of years back they have added several Mai Tai's to the menu (Why? l really don't know). Pricey, but great career bar staff and the history of the place are hard to beat.
5. Dukes, noisy and busy with a mid-priced solid tourist Mai Tai. It's a party in that joint all the time.
6. Wailana Coffee House Cocktail Bar. I don't think this has been mentioned here before. This is a great find if you are short of cash. It is on the side of the entrance to the Wailana Coffee House and opens at midday. It's a local hang out. The Mai Tai is sweet but ok. Best part is they are $3.50 all day and most of the ingredients have Tader Vic on the label. Also great bamboo interior.
7. Top of Waikiki revolving restaurant. This place changes all the time (no pun intended)but their Mai Tai was created by a Barman who worked at Don's in Las Vegas. Can be inconsistent but make the effort to go up there, fantastic view from the bar.
8. Jimmy Buffett's At The Beachcomber. Yes l know this is a controversial choice considering Jimmy's the enemy BUT they have a Mai Tai called something like "Vic's Original". It's not cheep but if you hit the place at happy hour it's affordable. Enough said.
9. Princess Kaiulani. The bar by the pool has an almost typical bar by the pool Mai Tai. It tastes a little different to others along the strip and the barman told me thet it is based on a Don's Mai Tai. Tastes like it's got grapefruit in it to me, But What do l know.
10. Its a toss up between the Moana Surfrider and Tiki's. The Surfriders Mai Tai should be better because of it's history ( it's older than the Royal Hawaiian) but you can sit around the bar and pretend you are watching Wembley Edwards doing "Hawaii Calls". Tiki's is not my favorite place. The Bar staff always seem to have something better to do than serve you. Prices are Ok and most of the time they have mugs.
There you go, l hope it wasn't too rambling.
Also you should check out The Hideaway Bar (great dive bar) Nashville Waikiki (coz it's such a feakin' stupid idea) and the Mai Tai Bar above Ala Moana Centre (decent Mai Tai when you need a break from shopping and they have cool t shirts)
Look no further than this post when it comes to Mai Tais in Waikiki. This is the most accurate and comprehensive listing I've seen.
Careless Navigator, you nailed it. Good job !!
Grand Member (3 years)
Joined: May 09, 2012
From: San Diego
|Posted: 2013-02-25 6:40 pm  Permalink|
Yes, on my second Mai Tai adventure in Waikiki, I agree that House Without a Key has the best Mai Tai in town!
House Without a Key Mai Tai
We got there at 9:10 pm and they close at 9:30. They were very accommodating and let us sit and chill as long as we wanted. We didn't want them to have to stay late so we just drank the one and left. They offered to make us another, which was very nice of them. The setting was also very nice. As we were walking out of the restaurant we noticed a dress code sign. I don't think we fit it, but they treated us kindly regardless.
Tiki's Grill & Bar
Tiki's still has some good Mai Tai's and I have to give them props as well. It was closing time and I asked for 2 Mai Tais. I said we could just bring them to our room since we were staying at the hotel. He had already started to clean up everything so I said don't worry about it. He told us to stop and he made them for us anyway. It was very nice of him to do and we appreciated it.
La Mariana Mai Tai
I love this place. The drinks are decent but the atmosphere is amazing! Also I like the food a lot! The Reuben sandwich is super. I get one every time I am there. It was a bit busier than the last time we were there, I guess due to the Hawaii 5-0 episode that featured their restaurant.
Sad to say we did not have a good time at Rum Fire. I guess I have to agree with Mo-Eye that you should avoid this place. This was our third visit to this place. Our first time was fun and I tried a bunch of their drinks. They are very expensive and small, but we had fun with the scenery and everything. I did have like 5 or 6 drinks in a couple hours and walked out without a buzz. Last year we tried to go back at 9:30 one night and they said that they were closing and wouldn't serve us. This year at 9:30 we decided to check their website to see how late they were open before we walked the 5 blocks. They were open until 12 midnight. Cool, so we headed over there and got there at 10 pm. The waitress, as we sat down, said that it was last call. I said, "your website said that you are open til midnight?" She said, "this will make the weekend come sooner." And she walked away. This WAS my weekend... I really didn't care too much about her weekend at that point. We got our drinks, my Dragon Fire Cooler tasted like soap and had 3 sips of liquid for $8.50. My wife got the Hawaiian Love Affair that tasted only like 99 bananas and was the same size as mine for $10.50. We watched as the servers were rude to their customers and ignored others. Did I mention that the place was FULL? As we were leaving we heard the hostess say, "I was just surrounded by Chinese people, I should have called security!" I guess their motto is to be rude and charge lots of money for small (not good) drinks. No need for customer service or regular hours, they just need new tourists to rip off every day.
We didn't make it to the Chart House, but we will have to next time. Had a couple at the Royal Hawaiian, but I didn't take a picture. I liked them, but they were not my favorite.
We went to Arnolds quite a few times too. This place reminds us of home. It is not a tiki bar, but it is totally decked out in tiki decorations. It is just a dive bar though, which we like. They do have Mai Tai's, but they are nothing special. But it is one of our favorite places to hang out in Waikiki.
[ This Message was edited by: lunavideogames 2013-02-25 19:02 ]
Joined: Jan 19, 2013
From: Edmonton, AB, Canada
|Posted: 2014-04-05 9:24 pm  Permalink|
This thread, along with Chuck and Don's Waikiki Mai Tai reviews at http://www.foundationbar.com/Mai-Tai_reviews.html were helpful to me during my visit to Waikiki last week. I wanted to throw my experience in as well for a quick Mai Tai in Waikiki primer - sorry, no pictures - just the straight goods. I am ranking from best to worst:
1 (BEST) - Royal Hawaiian Hotel - $12 - its pretty tough to beat this view of Diamond Head in the late afternoon and walking through the RH is the perfect appetizer to an excellent Mai Tai. In this case, you get what you pay for.
2 - Moose McGillycuddy's - $4.00 at Happy Hour - I was pretty surprised by this but the Moose delivered the goods. I hit this joint every time I am in Waikiki; there is so much cool stuff to gaze at on the walls. We visited this place on a Tuesday and it happened to be Taco Night; they were excellent and we received a 2 for 1 breakfast coupon with our check. Beauty.
3 - Chuck's Cellar - $4.75 at Happy Hour - like so many have said, this place feels like an old Rat Pack hang-out; somewhere you would expect to see Jack Lord at the salad bar grabbing some warm bread from the oven (nice touch). Cool live music starts at 6 every night. I also tried their Blue Hawaii, it was not great, but I should not have had high expectations for that drink.
4 - Nashville's - $2.50 at Happy Hour - speaking of expectations, I had zero when I walked down into this basement country bar on Kuhio in the middle of the day. The young girl behind the bar was making her first Mai Tai (it must have been her first shift) under the close supervision of her manager, who kept encouraging her to pour more dark rum as the float (I was not going to object). This bar is the farthest thing from tiki but I have to admit I enjoyed this drink - it was certainly the best for value I had during my trip.
5 - Alaska Airlines flight into HNL - free inflight service- I admit I loved this touch after a 7 hour flight. I am ranking only the taste (it was the Trader Vic's Mai Tai), not the gesture as it was well received by all who indulged. As far as ready-to-go mixes go, I think this is as good as it gets; if only I had an airline bottle of dark rum to float on the top I would have been set free. Nice work, AA (Alaska Airlines, not Alcoholics Anonymous).
6 - Princess Kauilani - $10 at poolside - I was not staying here but grabbed one to escape the heat during some shopping. I have to admit I totally disagree with Don and Chuck on this one; while they favoured the lemonade taste of this drink, I found it offensive. It tasted nothing like a Mai Tai - it more closely resembled a Lynchburg Lemonade out of the can. No fun. At all. I admit this could have been the worst on this list, any maybe it should be, given its price.
7 - (WORST) Jimmy Buffett's at Beachcomber - $5 at Happy Hour - I admit I liked the set up of this place, and maybe I was just frustrated at the slow service since I snuck away for a solitary 20 minutes from my family in the hopes of a quick one. But while the first taste was OK, by the time it hit the back of my tongue, my body was sending a signal to my brain begging me to stop abusing it with this chemical-tasting solution. I'm not trying to be a hater of the pre-mix (certainly Nashville's used a pre-mix, and even the barmaid at Chuck's Cellar admitted that they pre-mix some of the ingredients, including the orgeat) but this tasted a bit like standard kitchen cleaner. Maybe a bit worse.
From what I recall, all of the above were served with pineapple/cherry and an umbrella, except of course for Nashville's and AA. I received no mint or flower with any drink.
While I did make it to House Without a Key at Halekulani, I went with a seasonal tropical Mojito (it was very good). I also went with the Tropical Itch at Duke's (mainly because it was served with a backscratcher, it did not disappoint.) Sadly, I did not make it to La Mariana.
Of course it's a total burn that International Market Place is no longer there; at least Duke's Lane still rocks. I loved Waikiki; I had given up on it the last time I was there about 12 years ago and was pleasantly surprised this go-around. I feel like there is still a market for those who enjoy old-school Hawaiiana; just about every dinner we ate was top notch, with great Happy Hour specials.
On another unrelated note - Oahu has a cool TB channel caled MeTV which serves up only vintage programming. Every day at noon it broadcasts Jack Lord era H-50, which was the perfect lunch entertainment prior to hitting the bars and beach (OK, the bars).
[ This Message was edited by: robbie_silver 2014-04-05 21:25 ]
Joined: Jul 03, 2011
|Posted: 2014-04-19 6:01 pm  Permalink|
We LOVE MeTv!
Grand Member (7 years)
Joined: May 15, 2012
From: Orange County, CA
|Posted: 2015-02-11 3:18 pm  Permalink|
House Without a Key at the Halekulani still got it. Had four mai tai's there this past weekend/week and they were among the best tasting of the various ones sampled in Waikiki. Pricey? Yes. Would I have four more? Yes!
At $14 each with no happy hour special, it was easily the most expensive drink I bought the entire 5 days I was there (except for one in a hollowed out pineapple somewhere else), but excellence doesn't usually come cheap.
Nicely balanced, nicely garnished (sorry you can't see the sugar cane swizzle it comes with), attentive service, and a heck of a good view for sunset. Get there early before the crowds and enjoy a couple!