Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide

Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide

Updated Sept. 9, 2019
Follow our never-ending journey through The Mai-Kai’s classic cocktail menu with exclusive tribute recipes, newly uncovered ancestor recipes for lost classics, plus new special features. Check back often and be sure to click on the reviews to add your own ratings and comments.

JUMP BELOW
This guide: Okole Maluna Society introduction
The drinks: Cocktail rankings, reviews, recipes
Lost cocktails: Retired drink reviews, ratings, recipes
At The Mai-Kai: List of drinks on the current menu | 3-D tour, promotional videos
SEE ALSO: All 100+ Mai-Kai cocktail recipes | NEW: All 200+ Atomic Grog recipes

RECENT EVENTS

UPDATE: What we learned at Appleton master blender Joy Spence’s rum tasting at The Mai-Kai Appleton master blender Joy Spence hosts rare rum tasting at The Mai-Kai
What could possibly be better than an Appleton Estate rum tasting at The Mai-Kai? How about the first-ever such event at the historic Polynesian palace hosted by Joy Spence, the longtime master blender for the venerable Jamaican brand synonymous with pure premium rum. Check out our full recpap and photos, including 5 things you might not know about Joy Spence, 12 things we learned about how Appleton rum is made, and how she wants you to experience Appleton Estate rums.
Recipe: Joy Spence’s favorite rum cocktail

The Hukilau 2019, June 5-9, in Fort Lauderdale
Photos and video from social media

Hear The Rums of The Mai-Kai symposium on the Inside the Desert Oasis Room podcast
The Rums of The Mai-Kai, presented by The Atomic Grog at The Hukilau 2019
Mahalo to Adrian Eustaquio and Inside the Desert Oasis Room for documenting the June 9 presentation featuring Hurricane Hayward and Matt Pietrek of Cocktail Wonk live on stage at The Mai-Kai during the closing festivities of The Hukilau 2019.
Click here to listen now or subscribe on iTunes and other podcast platforms

The Atomic Grog presents new class and symposium at The Hukilau
The Rums of The Mai-Kai, presented by The Atomic Grog at The Hukilau 2019
Hurricane Hayward of The Atomic Grog took guests on an virtual journey to the Caribbean to learn about the key rums and styles that have dominated The Mai-Kai’s acclaimed cocktails for more than 60 years. He was joined by rum expert Stephen Remsberg for an Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy class at Pier Sixty-Six hotel on June 8, and by Cocktail Wonk writer Matt Pietrek for an on-stage symposium at The Mai-Kai Grand Finale on June 9.
See the event preview | Full recap coming soon!
Get detailed reports and photos on Tiki Central
The Atomic Grog presents new class and symposium at The Hukilau
Coming soon: Exclusive news on a new replacement for Kohala Bay rum at The Mai-Kai, plus more!
More on the rums of The Mai-Kai
* See exclusive info and photos on Tiki Central
* The history of the potent, funky flavors from Guyana and Jamaica
* Demerara rum – The Mai-Kai’s secret weapon

LATEST UPDATES
Drink like a native with the deadly Shrunken Skull
A deep dive into the history of a deadly classic cocktail
Mai-Kai cocktail review: Drink like a native with the deadly Shrunken Skull
The Mai-Kai cocktail review: Fully enhanced with a brand new tribute recipe and the true ancestor recipe from Don the Beachcomber. Includes rich detail including info on all the mugs, the potent rums and the story behind those real shrunken skulls on display in one of the The Mai-Kai’s secluded dining rooms.
* CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY

Now on The Grogalizer!
Some of The Mai-Kai tribute recipes have been added to the essential database of Tiki cocktail reviews. Help boost our ratings. It’s quick and easy to sign up.
* Go to The Grogalizer now

The Atomic Grog on Marooned: A Texas Tiki Podcast
The Atomic Grog on Marooned: A Texas Tiki Podcast
Listen to Hurricane Hayward and Texas Tiki and cocktail podcaster David Phantomatic in the Samoa Room at The Mai-Kai as they discuss (what else) the historic tropical drinks and influence of South Florida’s Polynesian Palace. The podcast is also available on all major podcasting platforms: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

The Mai-Kai Walking Tour on Marooned: A Texas Tiki Podcast
The Mai-Kai Walking Tour on Marooned: A Texas Tiki Podcast It was an honor to participate in The Mai-Kai history tour with carver Will Anders and manager Kern Mattei. It’s a real Tiki museum audio walking tour.
Previous stories: New giant carved Tiki added to outdoor garden
‘King Kai’ leads procession of new Tikis into The Mai-Kai

SPECIAL FEATURES
* Friends of The Mai-Kai: Join the new Facebook group
* Downloadable, printable checklist of The Atomic Grog’s Mai-Kai cocktail ratings (PDF)
* Downloadable, printable checklist of The Mai-Kai cocktail ancestry (PDF)

The Mai-Kai online store
You can now order signature mugs and other merchandise online via the Trading Post’s new e-commerce app.
* Click here to order

MORE NEWS AND EVENTS
NEW: Recap, photos from How to Mix Like The Mai-Kai class at The Hukilau 2018
* The Hukilau preview party: The Surfrajettes return to The Mai Kai
* Florida bartender wins Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai Challenge at The Mai-Kai
* Hulaween 2018: Back from the Dead – 10th Anniversary Reunion
* The Mai-Kai updates bar menu, adds classic ‘lost’ cocktail
* Archive of past news, events

Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant

Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant
The definitive book on the historic Fort Lauderdale Tiki temple by Tim “Swanky” Glazner was released in September 2016. Get your copy now!
* Official website | Facebook page
More photos, stories
* 1958-59: The Okole Maluna Society
* Mariano Licudine – “The Houdini of the Liquids”
* Historic mugs | Postcards | Swank Pad
* Facebook: Calendar girls | Postcards

More special features
* The Mai-Kai is here to stay: 10 reasons why we love the historic South Fla. restaurant
* Mai-Kai tropical drink family tree
* Heeeeeeere’s the rich history and lost stories of The Mai-Kai
* Tour of The Mai-Kai’s mysterious bars and kitchen (with photos)
* Interview with General Manager Kern Mattei
* The 12 Days of Christmas, Mai-Kai style

The Mai-Kai: Official site | Trading Post | Twitter
* Facebook: Official page | Friends of The Mai-Kai group
* Instagram: Restaurant | The Molokai bar | Trading Post

*******************************************************
Okole Maluna Society membership card

Okole Maluna Society membership card.

THE OKOLE MALUNA SOCIETY

The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale is widely recognized as having perhaps the best authentic tropical drinks in the world. The cocktail menu remains virtually unchanged since its opening in 1956 and most of the classic recipes date back to the original Tiki drinks invented by Don the Beachcomber in the 1930s and ’40s.

In the early years, The Mai-Kai had a club called the Okole Maluna (pronounced Oh-koh-lay Mah-loo-nah) Society. Okole Maluna is a traditional Hawaiian toast that means “bottom’s up!” To become a member of the society, you had to sample every one of the drinks on the menu and have them checked off your membership card. Once you joined the club, you were given access to a special off-menu drink. See more on the society and the menu on Swanky’s Mai-Kai history site.

Okole Maluna Society menu

Okole Maluna Society menu.

The society no longer exists, but we’re resurrecting it here on The Atomic Grog. We’ve sampled all the current drinks and have ranked them below on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Following the rankings you’ll also find the drinks listed by category as they appear on the menu. For 52 weeks, from June 2011 until June 2012, we posted detailed reviews (with photos) of all the cocktails on the menu, plus a few off the menu, as well as some classics that are no longer offered. They’re all listed below with hyperlinks to the reviews and an archive of 99 recipes. In the ensuring years, we’ve continually posted updates and new recipes, keeping this guide fresh and up-to-date.

This online guide serves two useful purposes. It gives Mai-Kai patrons a richly detailed and authoritative tool to help choose a cocktail, and also offer feedback. There’s a poll to every drink that lets you rate them, in addition to leaving comments. It’s also an essential resource for home mixologists, giving Tiki drink aficionados exclusive access to a vast archive of recipes.

Okole Maluna Society menu from The Mai-Kai

Okole Maluna Society menu from The Mai-Kai.

These include some authentic Mai-Kai recipes along with “tribute” drinks from The Atomic Grog and others in the Tiki community. But many of the true recipes remain a puzzle. You see, the aura of these mysterious drinks is created by the fact that they’re for the most part top-secret recipes (in the tradition of Don the Beachcomber) that have never been revealed. The cocktails are created in back bars, away from public view. We’ve also included many of the original Donn Beach recipes that inspired The Mai-Kai’s legendary mixologist, Mariano Licudine.

We’ll be continually enhancing this guide with new recipes, history, photos and behind-the-scene stories, so be sure to check the links at the top of the page. We hope to pay homage to The Mai-Kai, a one-of-a-kind mid-century marvel, and its amazing cocktails that top even those at the trendiest craft cocktail bar today.

Okole maluna!

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THE ATOMIC GROG’S MAI-KAI DRINK RATINGS
(Click on hyperlinks for full reviews and recipes)
{recipe}= Official recipe / {ancestor} = Ancestor recipe / {tribute} = Tribute recipe

The Mai-Kai's original cocktail menu from 1956-57

The Mai-Kai's original cocktail menu from 1956-57.

5 stars
1 – Zombie (strong) {ancestors / tribute}

4 1/2 stars

2 – Shark Bite (medium)
   {ancestor / tribute}

3 – 151 Swizzle (strong)
   {ancestor / tribute}

4 – Special Planters Punch (strong) {ancestor / tribute}

4 stars

5 – Barrel O’ Rum (strong) {recipe}

6 (tie) – Sidewinder’s Fang (strong) {ancestor}
Mystery Drink (strong) {ancestor}

7 – Jet Pilot (strong) {ancestors / tribute}

8 – Cobra’s Kiss (medium) {ancestor / tribute}

9 – Rum Julep (medium) {ancestor / tribute}

10 – Mutiny (strong) {tribute}

11 – Shrunken Skull (strong) {ancestor / official / tribute}

12 – Yeoman’s Grog (strong) {ancestor / tribute}

13 – The Hukilau (strong) {tribute}

Dave Levy's daughter Maima serves up cocktails in The Molokai bar

Owner Dave Levy's daughter Maima in The Molokai bar. (Go11Events.com)

3 1/2 stars

14 – Black Magic (strong) {tribute}

15 – Mai Tai (strong) {tribute}

16 – Suffering Bastard (strong) {tribute}

17 – Piña Passion (medium) {ancestor}

18 – Samoan Grog (mild)
   {ancestor / tribute}

19 – Zula #1 and #2 (strong)
   {ancestor / tributes}

20 – K.O. Cooler (strong)
   {ancestors / tribute}

21 – Special Reserve Daiquiri (medium)
    {ancestor / tribute}

22 – S.O.S. (mild) {ancestor / tribute}

23 – Deep Sea Diver (medium)
   {ancestor / tribute}

24 – Moonkist Coconut (medium) {recipe}

25 – Bora Bora (strong) {ancestor / tribute}

26 – Hidden Pearl (medium)
   {ancestor / tribute}

27 – Tahitian Breeze (medium) {ancestors / tribute}

28 – Mara-Amu (medium) {recipe}

29 (tie) – Chocolate Snowflake (after dinner) {tribute}
Mai-Kai Blizzard (after dinner) {tribute}

The Mai-Kai offers a staggering selection of tropical drinks

The Mai-Kai's delicious tropical drinks. (Go11Events.com)

3 stars

30 – Kona Coffee Grog (after dinner) {ancestor}

31 – Hot Buttered Rum (after dinner) {tribute}

32 – Oh So Deadly (mild) {ancestor / tribute}

33 – Piña Colada (medium) {ancestor/tribute}

34 – Martinique Milk Punch (mild) {ancestor / tribute}

35 – Malayan Mist (mild) {ancestor}

36 – Mai-Kai Special (mild) {tribute}

37 – Mai-Kai Swizzle (mild) {tribute}

38 – Floridita Daiquiri (mild) {recipe}

39 – Derby Daiquiri (mild) {recipe}

40 – Gardenia Lei (after dinner) {ancestor}

2 1/2 stars

41 – Banana Daiquiri (mild) {recipe}

42 – Strawberry Daiquiri (mild) {tribute}

The Mai-Kai's Molokai bar is one of the most distinctive in the world

The Molokai bar is one of the world's most distinctive. (Go11Events.com)

2 stars

43 – Planters Punch (medium) {ancestor}

44 – Tahitian Coffee (after dinner) {ancestor}

45 – Wahine Delight (after dinner) *** {ancestor}

46 – Mai-Kai Cappuccino

*** = Moved to the dessert menu in May 2018

RETIRED COCKTAILS

* Demerara Float (4.5)
   {ancestor / recipe / tribute}

* Big Bamboo (4) {recipe}

* Demerara Cocktail (3 1/2)
   {recipe / tribute}

* Dr. Fong (3 1/2) {ancestors / tribute}

* Hanalei Bay (3 1/2) {ancestor / tribute}

* Last Rites (3 1/2) {ancestor / recipe / tribute}

* Liquid Gold (3 1/2) {ancestor / tribute}

* Impatient Virgin (3) {ancestor / tribute}

* Island Queen (3) {ancestor / tribute}

* Martinique Cocktail (3) {ancestor}

* Tiki Swizzle (3) {recipe}

* Cuban Daiquiri (2 1/2) {ancestor/tribute}

See also: Fog Cutter and Singapore Sling
* Read more about The Mai-Kai’s “lost cocktails”

A 1958 ad featuring Mariano Licudine

A 1958 ad featuring master mixologist Mariano Licudine.

Disclaimers: These ratings are based on Hurricane Hayward’s own personal tastes. He tends to prefer strong, complex drinks with a unique flavor profile. Aside from perhaps the bottom three or four, they’re all highly recommended and sure to please imbibers with different tastes. The top three are remarkable, and the top 10 are all worthy of the Tiki drink hall of fame. But please, consume with caution, they’re all very potent.

**************************

THE MAI-KAI TROPICAL DRINK MENU
(Our ratings in parentheses, 1-5 stars)
(Click on hyperlinks for full reviews and recipes)

2018 update” The Mai-Kai updates bar menu, adds classic ‘lost’ cocktail
* See the official online menu

The Mai-Kai's 2014 tropical drink menu

The Mai-Kai’s current tropical drink menu.

STRONG

* Zombie (5) {ancestors / tribute}

* 151 Swizzle (4 1/2) {ancestor / tribute}

* Special Planters Punch (4 1/2) {ancestor / tribute}

* Barrel O’ Rum (4) {recipe}

* Sidewinder’s Fang (4) {ancestor}

* Mystery Drink (4) {ancestor}

* Jet Pilot (4) {ancestors / tribute}

* Mutiny (4) {tribute}

* Shrunken Skull (4) {ancestor / official / tribute}

* Yeoman’s Grog (4) {ancestor / tribute}

* The Hukilau (4) {tribute}

* Black Magic (3 1/2) {tribute}

* Mai Tai (3 1/2) {tribute}

* Suffering Bastard (3 1/2) {tribute}

* Zula #1 and #2 (3 1/2) {ancestor / tributes}

* K.O. Cooler (3 1/2) {ancestors / tribute}

* Bora Bora (3) {ancestor / tribute}

The Mai-Kai's Molokai bar was designed to look like the interior of the famed cargo ship HMS Bounty

The Molokai bar includes props and rigging from the 1962 movie 'Mutiny on the Bounty' starring Marlon Brando. (Go11Events.com)

MEDIUM

* Shark Bite (4 1/2) {ancestor / tribute}

* Cobra’s Kiss (4) {ancestor / tribute}

* Rum Julep (4) {ancestor / tribute}

* Piña Passion (3 1/2) {ancestor}

* Special Reserve Daiquiri (3 1/2) {ancestor / tribute}

* Deep Sea Diver (3 1/2) {ancestor / tribute}

* Moonkist Coconut (3 1/2) {recipe}

* Hidden Pearl (3 1/2) {ancestor / tribute}

* Tahitian Breeze (3 1/2) {ancestors / tribute}

* Mara-Amu (3 1/2) {recipe}

* Piña Colada (3) {ancestor/tribute}

* Planters Punch (2) {ancestor}

A recent photo of The Molokai Girls in the bar, which never seems to go out of style

A recent photo of The Molokai Girls in the bar, which never seems to go out of style. (Courtesy of The Mai-Kai)

MILD

* Samoan Grog (3 1/2) {ancestor / tribute}

* S.O.S. (3 1/2) {ancestor / tribute}

* Oh So Deadly (3) {ancestor / tribute}

* Martinique Milk Punch (3) {ancestor / tribute}

* Malayan Mist (3) {ancestor}

* Mai-Kai Special (3) {tribute}

* Mai-Kai Swizzle (3) {tribute}

* Floridita Daiquiri (3) {recipe}

* Derby Daiquiri (3) {recipe}

* Banana Daiquiri (2 1/2) {recipe}

* Strawberry Daiquiri (2 1/2) {tribute}

The Mai-Kai's Polynesian Islander Revue performance during The Hukilau in June 2010

The Mai-Kai's Polynesian Islander Revue performance during The Hukilau in June 2010. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

AFTER DINNER

* Chocolate Snowflake (3 1/2) {tribute}

* Mai-Kai Blizzard (3 1/2) {tribute}

* Kona Coffee Grog (3) {ancestor}

* Hot Buttered Rum (3) {tribute}

* Gardenia Lei (3) {ancestor}

* Tahitian Coffee (2) {ancestor}

* Mai-Kai Cappuccino (2)

Moved to the dessert menu in May 2018: Wahine Delight (2) {ancestor}

Related: See all the drinks organized by ancestry

**************************

Explore The Mai-Kai in 3-D

Filmed by Google in the fall of 2015.

Mai-Kai promotional videos


2009 press party video to announce extensive renovations

Mahalos
* Owner Dave Levy, manager Kern Mattei, marketing director Pia Dahlquist and everyone else at The Mai-Kai. You have the best jobs in the world.
* Author Jeff “Beachbum Berry,” my mixology guru, whose research provided many of the recipes above.
* Historian Tim “Swanky” Glazner, who keeps the stories and spirit of The Mai-Kai alive for future generations.
* The Hukilau, which gave me my entre to this wonderful world.
* And last but not least: My beautiful wife, and all my friends and associates who have joined me at The Mai-Kai during my “research.”

Okole maluna!

**************************

PAST NEWS, SPECIAL FEATURES

Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy: How to Mix Like The Mai-Kai
Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy: How to Mix Like The Mai-Kai
Tips and techniques from Hurricane Hayward of The Atomic Grog for turning your home bar into a Tiki cocktail paradise. Check out highlights from the sold-out class at The Hukilau 2018.
Photo galleries: Facebook | Flickr
The Hukilau 2018 recap: Images from the whirlwind Tiki weekend in Fort Lauderdale

Recent press coverage
* Critiki’s ten best Tiki bars in the world, 2017
* Recreating the Mai-Kai’s bizarre Black Magic cocktail
* A tour of the Iconic Mai-Kai Tiki bar
* At Fort Lauderdale’s Mai-Kai, it’s always Tiki time

PAST EVENT: Demerara Rum – The Mai-Kai’s Secret Weapon
Demerara Rum: The Mai-Kai's Secret Weapon on Jan. 19, 2019, at The Mai-Kai The Atomic Grog was pleased to present a special happy-hour talk during The Mai-Kai Takeover event on Jan. 19, presented by the Magical Tiki Meet-Up and Retro Rekindled. Click here to check out our full event recap, including photos and highlights of our Demerara rum discussion.
See also: Rums of The Mai-Kai include potent, funky flavors from Guyana and Jamaica

Archive of past news, events

More news, events
* New giant carved Tiki added to The Mai-Kai’s outdoor garden for 60th anniversary
* The Mai-Kai turns 60 with history presentations, celebration
* ‘King Kai’ leads procession of new Tikis into The Mai-Kai
* A Fifth of Grog: ‘Boozy’ blog celebrates fifth anniversary
* Photos: Monstrous mayhem at the ninth annual Hulaween party at The Mai-Kai
* The Mai-Kai turns 60 with special history presentations, celebration
* Miami Rum Festival party and Santero’s Elixir cocktail recipe
* The Mai-Kai competes in “The Art of Tiki” at SoBeWFF | Pupule Punch recipe
* New Mai-Kai mugs released, history book coming
* The undead get lively at The Mai-Kai’s seventh annual Hulaween party
* Three classic ‘lost cocktails’ drop in for a night of flights at The Mai-Kai
* A ghastly good time at The Mai-Kai’s sixth annual Hulaween party
* Special event takes guests on a flight back to classic Potions of the Caribbean
* Artists pay tribute to The Mai-Kai with one-of-a-kind mugs
* Historic Mai-Kai celebrated, new cocktail menu unveiled at anniversary party
* Partygoers raise hell at The Mai-Kai’s fifth annual Hulaween
* Tap into The Mai-Kai anywhere with the new smartphone app
* Hulaween was hoppin’ all night at The Mai-Kai
* Mini Mai-Kai Mystery Bowl offers scaled-down version of a classic
* Cocktail flights soar at Mai-Kai Mixer, reveal revolutionary use of rums
* Mai-Kai Mixer shakes up South Florida with rockin’ retro cocktail party

10 Responses to Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide

  1. gil batzri says:

    This looks awesome, I have been several times and had maybe 7 or so of the drinks, but I always get overwhelmed. I am looking forward to this!

    Thanks!
    Gil in Oakland

  2. Thanks Gil. We’ve been a little backed up since Hukilau but we’ll be posting our first reviews this weekend.

  3. That is some fun history about the Mai-Kai. Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to reading all of your reviews!

  4. Nicole says:

    I went to the Mai-Kai for my 21st birthday and I had their Hidden Pearl. I really liked it, but I haven’t been able to find the recipe at all. I saw that you had recipes for some of their drinks and wondered if you knew the recipe for their hidden pearl?

  5. Have had many of the drinks. Added the Deep Sea Diver this weekend at the Hukilau. We should try to resurrect the THE OKOLE MALUNA SOCIETY, i think the concept is great. Would also be great for the restaurant. Maybe get some small little passport booklets made. Have the waitresses sign off on it. Then induct someone into the club like they do at the Smugglers cove in San fran with an official fez… Im in on that!

  6. Let me know if you need any help… been a designer for more than 15 years, wouldn’t mind to contribute to this idea.

  7. Pingback: Mai-Kai, Fort Lauderdale, Florida | Le Continental

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