The classic Mai Tai was was purportedly invented at the Trader Vic's in San Francisco, California in 1944, but Don the Beachcomer claims to have created it in 1933 at his then new bar (named for himself) in Hollywood.
Maitai'i is the Tahitian word for "good", but the drink is spelled as two words.
The Trader Vic story of its invention is that the Trader (Victor J. Bergeron) created it one afternoon for some friends who were visiting from Tahiti. Once of those friends, Carrie Guild, tasted it and cried out: "Maitai'i roa ae!" (literally, "very good") - hence the name.
In 1953 the Matson Navigation Company commissioned Victor Bergeron to create a drink for their new hotel, The Royal Hawaiian. Victor then made a variation on the Mai Tai adding pineapple juice, still served today at the hotel.
The Mai Tai became so popular in the 1950's and 1960's that many restaurants, particularly "tiki-themed" restaurants served them.
I am looking forward to a few of these in Maui later this month.
Classic Mai Tai
1 oz light run
1 oz dark rum
1 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce Cointreau (orange liquor)
a splash of pineapple juice
garnish with mint
garnish with lime
garnish with maraschino cherry
garnish with pineapple wedge
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, expect garnish. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice.
Garnish with fresh mint, lime, cherry and pineapple, if desired. You can also top with a splash of some dark rum.