Finding Waikiki’s best Mai Tai — The Mai Tai Index

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“You know what people expect when they come to Hawaii?”

The question was one of many interruptions that Taylor and I exchanged throughout the work day.

“What?” I asked.

“Mai Tais.” Taylor answered. The beginnings of a grin crept onto his face, hinting at the master plan he was about to reveal to me.

“Think about it,” he continued, “you’re in Hawaii—a laid-back, tropical place—so of course everyone that comes here is probably wondering where they can get a good Mai Tai: we should write about this.”

 


So began what I termed “The Mai Tai Project,” in which Taylor and I explored different bars and restaurants around Waikiki, tasting Mai Tais and judging them according to our own metrics.

In part one, Taylor discussed the origins of the Mai Tai, and what we at Hawaii Activities would be looking for in this tropically-inclined beverage.

Part two began our first experience as Taylor sat down for a drink at Moose’s in Waikiki.

Part three was my own learning experience in Arnold’s, the first of many Tiki bars we would visit.

Part four details a short, after-work happy hour at Duke’s in Waikiki, featuring an outside bar with beach and swimming pool nearby.

Part five continues the tiki theme (begun in part three) as I visited Cuckoo Coconuts, an open-air restaurant and bar tucked away right behind the HA office building.

Part six was a departure from the Waikiki tiki scene, as I stopped by the nook to try out their classic-ish Mai Tai, which was much more subtle than your typical tiki cocktail.

I also attended the annual Mai Tai festival held at Royal Kona Resort on the Big Island. This year’s festival was on August 19th, and the winner of the mix-off was Kevin Beary, from Three Dots & a Dash in Chicago.

Returning to Waikiki, part seven takes place tucked away under a hotel right next to Ala Wai Harbor in the cozy Harbor Pub, where the Mai Tais are mostly rum.

Conversely, Bar 35’s Mai Tais—the subject of part eight—are full of flavor, with the bite of the alcohol being virtually nonexistent.

Our last entry in the saga (for now) was at Bar Leather Apron, trying out the Mai Tai to end all Mai Tais, the winner of the 2015 Mai Tai Festival as mixed by Justin Park.

 


 

For a full listing of all our entries in the Mai Tai saga, check out the Mai Tai tag to keep up with all relevant posts.

We aren’t done drinking, of course, and we’ll still write about various bars, restaurants, and eateries around Waikiki and Honolulu and wherever else we might visit in addition to our regularly-scheduled articles on travel and Hawaii.

This chapter of our blog is complete, though, and we’re glad to have had you along for the ride.

Cheers!

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