Popular Tropical Cocktails on Maui

Sure, you may look like a tourist while sitting at a beach bar with an aloha shirt, sunglasses, a straw hat and big fruity drink with an umbrella or pineapple wedge hanging precariously off the rim of the glass, but damn… who cares? Tropical drinks can be served anywhere in the world. This is fact. But tropical drinks taste better when served in a tropical environment. This is opinion. But most people share this opinion! We’ve compiled a list of the most popular tropical cocktail drinks on Maui. If we were able to track down the history of the drink, we’ve included it. If not, or if it’s maybe something we made up, well, then you’ll just get the ingredients. Bottoms up!

Mai Tai
It seems appropriate a drink that people either love or loathe has two different people claiming to have invented the drink. Both have reasonable claims to the title, despite Ernest Gantt (who later changed his name to Donn Beach) serving his drink in 1933 at Don the Beachcomber in Los Angeles, the first tiki bar in the United States. Meanwhile Victor Bergeron, of Trader Vic’s, served his first Mai Tai to friends visiting from Tahiti in 1944. So how does Bergeron possibly have a claim for the title of first Mai Tai? Well, while the Mai Tai served at Trader Vic’s was pretty much the same as is served around the world today, the Don the Beachcomber version was made with a Caribbean liqueur rather than orgeat (the orange-almond flavor that serves as one of the pillars of the modern Mai Tai) as well as bitters and grapefruit juice, which are not present in today’s Mai Tais. No matter who you believe came first, Mai Tai’s are still the most popular drink on Maui.

INGREDIENTS
Light rum
Dark rum
Orgeat
Orange Curacao
Lime juice
Simple syrup

Blue Hawaii
Unlike the mai tai, there is a definite creator of the Blue Hawaii. In 1957, the head bartender at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, Harry Yee, created what is, basically, a blue pina colada using blue Curacao liqueur. While the drink was an instant hit in Hawaii, it wasn’t until the 1961 release of the Elvis Presley film Blue Hawaii that the drink achieved true, mainstream success. Another interesting tidbit, Harry Yee, for better or worse was also gets credit for making tiny umbrellas in drinks a thing!

INGREDIENTS
Citrus juice
Vodka
Blue Curacao
Sweet and Sour
Pineapple juice
Light rum
Simple syrup

Lava Flow
While there is no definitive history of the lava flow, a drink that is essentially a combination of a pina colada and a strawberry daiquiri, we do know the Lava Flow acquired its name because it when you layer the drink by pouring the strawberry daiquiri in first, adding the pina colada forces the daiquiri portion to bubble up, looking like a volcano. Nifty, no?

INGREDIENTS
Coconut rum
Light rum
Pineapple juice
Coconut cream
Strawberries

Pina Colada
Even more disputed that the invention of the Mai Tai, the history of the Pina Colada involves pirates, two competing bartenders at the same Puerto Rican hotel and a different restaurant in Puerto Rico. If you’re curious, here’s a nice piece: “The Birth of the Pina Colada”, on the History Channel’s website.

INGREDIENTS
Light rum
Dark rum
Coconut cream
Pineapple juice

Chi Chi
The Chi Chi is a sister drink to the Pina Colada. It’s essentially the same drink, except the Chi Chi uses vodka in place of rum. Because of this, the Chi Chi is slightly healthier as it has less sugar than the Pina Colada.

INGREDIENTS
Vodka
Coconut cream
Pineapple juice

When you’re sitting poolside or at the beach, what is your favorite tropical drink? Let us know in the comments below…

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