The Mai Tai Bar @ the Royal Hawaiian, Waikiki Beach, Honolulu.

The beachfront bar, named after its signature cocktail is a festive spot for umbrella cocktails, right on the beach with island style live music and busy bartenders. It hides in the belly-button of legendary Waikiki Beach, within a Spanish-Moorish historical Grande Dame resort, since 1927.

I usually shy away from umbrella cocktails, I may sneak in an occasion classic mojito, or a nicely balanced Americano, but otherwise, I am a simple woman: Wine, flipflops & dogs.

But in Hawaii, do as the Hawaiian-Tourist does, you must have the BEST, the No Ka Oi Mai Tai, at its birthplace, said Karin.

After taking a souvenir picture at the entrance sign, we hopped on a bar stool.

These people are not shy. The cocktails are $15, all served in a rocks glass, but beautifully garnished with a thick-juicy slice of pineapple and real Luxardo Maraschino cherries.

Sure, some of them sport umbrellas.

I looked at the list, I debated which mai tai to order, I was doubtful I would like it.

Showtime: My White Wash Mai Tai, was topped with not just one but TWO floats, Lahaina dark rum and the bar’s signature coco-loco foam. I later learned that Lahaina, is an old distillery in Maui. The cocktail was made with that distillery’s Silver Rum, A French-made Curacao triple sec, Orgeat syrupa sweetener made from almonds, sugar, and rose water, fresh lime, and pineapple juice.

Wow, I instantly experienced an explosion of flavors, a bomb. It was a 5-star cocktail, nothing like the sugary Mai Tai you get in any Western hemisphere bar!

With my judgement impaired, I next wanted to have the $35 ali’I mai tai, made with aged rums, and some pedigreed handcrafted farm to bottle KoHana rum, but Karin talked me out of it, she did not want me sliding off my stool; so now I have to go back there one day, and get me some!

Why am I boring you with all that?

Imagine, an entire bar dedicated to just one cocktail in a dozen out-of-the box interpretations. Of course, the fresh ingredients are responsible for the amazing taste: Lychee puree, muddled pineapple, spiced rum, dark rum, Myers’s, Bacardi, everything goes, the right glass, the right temperature, the incredible view. 

If I had the royal mai tai, a resort classic, from the original 1944 trader vic recipe, with local rums, Curacao triple sec, and freshly squeezed juices, would the experience be different?

As the sun was setting over the horizon, famous pink Waikiki beach emptied and to my TOTAL surprise they cleared the beach completely, not a chair, not a surf board remained. They have NO piers, no umbrellas, no palapas, and no watersports, to begin with, so I guess it is easier to clear the beach at sunset, return it to its pristine, untouched, uncluttered self.

alohe’lohe, see you again!

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April 20, 2019
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