You’ll find many Rum Julep recipes online, but don’t be fooled by these pretenders. It’s a common name given to a myriad of cocktails that all pale in comparison to the Don the Beachcomber classic, circa 1940. And as you should know from reading this cocktail guide, 40 of the Mai-Kai’s best drinks are direct descendants of Donn Beach originals.
When former Don the Beachcomber bartender Mariano Licudine created The Mai-Kai’s menu in 1956, he used many recipes from his notebook, but tweaked them slightly. These altered drinks also got new names, such as Don’s Swizzle becoming the Mai-Kai Swizzle or the Never Say Die becoming the Oh So Deadly. However, a few kept their original moniker, such as the distinctive Zombie and Kona Coffee Grog.
Still, there were subtle changes in most drinks. Much like the Special Planters Punch, it took quite a few years before I attempted a Rum Julep tribute recipe, as the finer points of Mariano Licudine’s mixology techniques became clearer. And like many of those other cocktails, the Rum Julep is a fine example of tropical drink history that only The Mai-Kai can provide.