Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide

Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide

Updated Sept. 19, 2014

Our never-ending journey through The Mai-Kai’s classic cocktail menu will continue in 2014, with more “tribute” recipes, newly uncovered ancestor recipes for lost classics, plus several special features. So check back often and be sure to click on the reviews to add your 1-through-5 ratings and comments.

NEW REVIEWS, RECIPES, SPECIAL FEATURES
NEW: Special event takes guests on a flight back to classic Potions of the Caribbean
NEW: Martinique Cocktail ancestor recipe and review | Last Rites ancestor recipe
* Rum Julep tribute | Deep Sea Diver tribute | Yeoman’s Grog tribute
* The Mai-Kai Hurricane: The Tale of a tribute to a New Orleans classic
* Artists pay tribute to The Mai-Kai with one-of-a-kind mugs
* Tiki Central: See the story behind this guide, follow the latest updates

Jump below: The Atomic Grog’s drink ratings | Official menu | Promotional videos
More resources: Mai-Kai tropical drink family tree | Index of 92 recipes | All reviews

Recent news, events:
* Historic Mai-Kai celebrated, new cocktail menu unveiled at anniversary party
* Tap into The Mai-Kai anywhere with the new smartphone app
* 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
* Rums of The Mai-Kai: Legendary Lemon Hart returns to the promised land

Special features:
* The 12 Days of Christmas, Mai-Kai style
* Heeeeeeere’s the rich history and lost stories of The Mai-Kai
* Tour of The Mai-Kai’s mysterious bars and kitchen (with photos)
* Mai-Kai app in the works | Interview with General Manager Kern Mattei
Related links: The Mai-Kai’s official site | More history from The Swank Pad

Okole Maluna Society membership card

Okole Maluna Society membership card. (Courtesy of SwankPad.org)

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. (More on the menu on The Swank Pad blog)

Okole Maluna Society menu

Okole Maluna Society menu. (Courtesy of SwankPad.org)

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 90 recipes.

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. (Courtesy of SwankPad.org)

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!

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

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 cocktail menu hasn't changed much in 55 years. Pictured: 1956-57 menu

The Mai-Kai's cocktail menu hasn't changed much in 55 years. Pictured: 1956-57 menu.

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 / tribute]
12 – Yeoman’s Grog (strong) [ancestor / tribute]
13 – The Hukilau (strong) [tribute]

The Mai-Kai offers a staggering selection of tropical drinks

The Mai-Kai offers a staggering selection of tropical drinks. (Courtesy of The Mai-Kai and Go11Events.com.com)

3 1/2 stars

14 – Black Magic (strong) [tribute]
15 – Mai Tai (strong) [tribute]
16 – Piña Passion (medium) [ancestor]
17 – Samoan Grog (mild)
   [ancestor / tribute]
18 – Zula (strong) [ancestor / tribute]
19 – K.O. Cooler (strong) [ancestor]
20 – Special Reserve Daiquiri (medium)
    [ancestor / tribute]
21 – S.O.S. (mild) [ancestor / tribute]
22 – Deep Sea Diver (medium)
   [ancestor / tribute]
23 – Moonkist Coconut (medium) [recipe]
24 – Hidden Pearl (medium)
   [ancestor / tribute]
25 – Tahitian Breeze (medium) [ancestors / tribute]
26 – Mara-Amu (medium) [recipe]
27 (tie) – Chocolate Snowflake (after dinner) [tribute]
Mai-Kai Blizzard (after dinner) [tribute]

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

Third generation: Owner Dave Levy's daughter Maima serves up cocktails in The Molokai bar. (Courtesy of The Mai-Kai and Go11Events.com.com)

3 stars

28 – Bora Bora (strong) [ancestor / tribute]
29 – Tiki Swizzle (strong) [recipe]
30 (tie) – Hot Buttered Rum (after dinner) [tribute]
Kona Coffee Grog (after dinner) [ancestor]
31 – Oh So Deadly (mild) [ancestor / tribute]
32 – Piña Colada (medium) [ancestor/tribute]
33 – Malayan Mist (mild) [ancestor]
34 – Mai-Kai Special (mild) [tribute]
35 – Mai-Kai Swizzle (mild) [tribute]
36 – Floridita Daiquiri (mild) [recipe]
37 – Derby Daiquiri (mild) [recipe]
38 – Gardenia Lei (after dinner) [ancestor]

2 1/2 stars

39 – Banana Daiquiri (mild) [recipe]
40 – Strawberry Daiquiri (mild) [tribute]
41 – Martinique Milk Punch (mild) [ancestor]

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

The Mai-Kai's Molokai bar is one of the most distinctive in the world. (Courtesy of The Mai-Kai and Go11Events.com.com)

2 stars

42 – Planters Punch (medium) [ancestor]
43 – Tahitian Coffee (after dinner) [ancestor]
44 – Wahine Delight (after dinner) [ancestor]

RETIRED DRINKS
Big Bamboo (5) [recipe]
Demerara Float (4) [ancestor / tribute]
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]
Suffering Bastard (3 1/2) [tribute]
Impatient Virgin (3) [ancestor / tribute]
Island Queen (3) [ancestor / tribute]
Martinique Cocktail (3) [ancestor]
Cuban Daiquiri (2 1/2) [ancestor/tribute]

* More on “lost” Mai-Kai cocktails

The Mai-Kai is a tropical drink lover's paradise

The Mai-Kai is a tropical drink lover's paradise. (Photo from TikiCentral.com by Koitiki)

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)

For the first time in decades, the official menu was updated in January 2014. Click here for an exclusive review.

The Mai-Kai's 2014 tropical drink menu

The Mai-Kai’s 2014 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 / tribute]
Yeoman’s Grog (4) [ancestor / tribute]
The Hukilau (4) [tribute]
Black Magic (3 1/2) [tribute]
Mai Tai (3 1/2) [tribute]
Zula (3 1/2) [ancestor / tribute]
K.O. Cooler (3 1/2) [ancestor]
Bora Bora (3) [ancestor / tribute]
Tiki Swizzle (3) [recipe]

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

The Molokai bar was designed to look like the interior of the famed cargo ship HMS Bounty, complete with sails and rigging. Much of the rigging came from the movie 'Mutiny on the Bounty' starring Marlon Brando. The set designer, an expert on 18th century nautical lore, came to The Mai-Kai and made sure it was tied correctly.(Courtesy of The Mai-Kai and Go11Events.com.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]
Malayan Mist (3) [ancestor]
Mai-Kai Special (3) [tribute]
Mai-Kai Swizzle (3) [tribute]
Floridita Daiquiri (3) [recipe]
Derby Daiquiri (3) [recipe]
Strawberry Daiquiri (2 1/2) [tribute]
Banana Daiquiri (2 1/2) [recipe]
Martinique Milk Punch (2 1/2) [ancestor]

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]
Hot Buttered Rum (3) [tribute]
Kona Coffee Grog (3) [ancestor]
Gardenia Lei (3) [ancestor]
Tahitian Coffee (2) [ancestor]
Wahine Delight (2) [ancestor]

Moved to the dessert menu in January 2014: Mai-Kai Cappuccino (2)

OFF-MENU DRINKS

Grandfather Barrel (4)
Rainbow Barrel (2 1/2)

Related: See all the drinks organized by ancestry

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

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 amazing wife, and all my friends and associates who have joined me at The Mai-Kai during my “research.”

Okole maluna!

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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