Mai-Kai cocktail review: The quest for the elusive Moonkist Coconut

Mai-Kai cocktail review: In search of the elusive Moonkist Coconut

Updated May 2024
See below: Our Moonkist Coconut review | Ancestor recipes NEW | The back story NEW | Official Mai-Kai recipe
Postscript: Moonkist Coconut on Make and Drink (video) NEW
Related: The Mai-Kai cocktail guide

The Moonkist Coconut is one of the most distinctive – and dodgy – drinks on The Mai-Kai’s vast and colorful cocktail menu.

Moonkist Coconut, September 2015. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Moonkist Coconut in The Molokai bar, September 2015. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Don’t get us wrong. This classic cocktail has been on the iconic South Florida restaurant’s acclaimed tropical drink menu since it opened in 1956. And its quality and consistency are beyond reproach. It’s one of many “rum rhapsodies” on the menu that can be traced back to Tiki pioneer Don the Beachcomber. It’s a bolder and spicier option to the Piña Colada.

The trick is getting this exotic elixir served in its trademark coconut. The young, green coconuts that The Mai-Kai fashions into drinking vessels are seasonal. And the off-season seemingly drags on forever. Not that you really should fret. When the smooth, heavy coconuts are unavailable, you’ll get your drink in a nice big old fashioned glass, often garnished with an orchid (see photo above). Note that you also will receive the drink in a glass during happy hour, when it’s half-priced.

Moonkist Coconut at The Mai-Kai, July 2011. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Moonkist Coconut at The Mai-Kai, July 2011. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

If you receive the drink in its traditional vessel, you’re encouraged to take it home as a souvenir. But unless you’re an expert at cleaning and preserving coconut shells, you probably won’t want to hold onto it for long.

When trying to duplicate this presentation at home, you have several options. The easiest is to employ a coconut mug, but if you’re really trying to impress you might want to explore the produce isle of your local grocery. While it may be tempting to pick up a hard-shelled mature coconut (the brown, husky variety), they’re extremely difficult to fashion into a drinking vessel. A better option, which is explored in more detail below, is a soft-shelled young coconut.

Whichever vessel you end up with, we’re sure you’ll enjoy the “official” recipe below, updated to mirror the latest version of the classic served at The Mai-Kai.

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