A Brief History of the Mai Tai

Mai Tai in San Jose Whether you are at a Japanese steakhouse or laying poolside, drinking Mai Tais will conjure up images of lying in a hammock overlooking a white, sandy beach. But, did you know that when you are sipping this tropical drink at a cocktail lounge near San Jose, you are actually closer to where the Mai Tai originated than if you were in Hawaii? Next time you order a Mai Tai, impress your friends with your knowledge of this tropical tasting drink. Read on to learn the surprising history of the Mai Tai.

Mai Tai’s Place-of-Origin
Although most people will associate a Mai Tai with tropical waters, rumor has it was originally created in California. After World War II, California saw the spread of Tiki bars as a fascination with the Polynesian culture grew. Where the Mai Tai originated is the only concrete fact in its history; who created it is up for debate. Two people separately claim to have created this high-demand drink.

Creator of the Mai Tai
The origin story of the Mai Tai has two sides. Don the Beachcomber, who was best known for starting a string of Tiki bars in California, claims to have created the first Mai Tai back in 1933. But, Victor J. Bergeron also claims the rights the drink, which he first made for his friends who were in town visiting from Tahiti in 1944. Legend has it that his friends loved the drink and even gave it the name we all know it as today—the Mai Tai. With both claims being debatable, you and your friends will have plenty to discuss over drinks.

While the debate of who created the Mai Tai goes on, there is no question the House of Genji ’s bartenders make some of the most delicious drinks in San Jose. Our expert staff has been tending to our patron’s Japanese dining needs for over 40 years. Contact us today at (408) 453-8120 to see how we can satisfy you. We look forward to dining with you.

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