Without a doubt my favorite drink in the world is a mai-tai. They are like a warm hug at the end of the day and a stolen moment at the beach in your mind where ever you are when your are having one. At the same time one of my favorite cities in the world is Las Vegas, Nevada. Anytime I get the chance to mingle mai-tais and Las Vegas together I do…and I like to think I do it it well and often.
There are tons of places for good mai-tais in Vegas, and quite a few places with mai-tais that are a mai-tai by name alone. But hey in a town with bars every 500 feet that is to be expected.While you may have quite a few bartenders that are well versed in the art of mixing a good old fashioned or martini, finding a mixologist that knows how to make a proper mai-tai is like finding treasure in your own backyard. It means not only have they taken the time to learn to mix a good tasting drink, but they have taken the time to curate style, craft, and care into every drink they make.
A proper mait-tai is not mixed…it is coaxed into being.
Today I want to introduce you to two locations in the Las Vegas area. The first should always be on your stop list for a mai-tai when in town. the second, while fantastic with other cocktails and an amazing location should NOT be trusted with a mai-tai…ever!
Whenever I am in Vegas there is always one night the is dedicated to a Golden Tiki visit, and beyond that it is often the launching point for an evening out on the town. Tucked away off the Vegas strip prepare yourself for a true local Vegas experience. The ambiance is epic. Get ready for stained glass, tropical environments and cases of shrunken heads and other oddities. The music is always on point with live DJs spinning vniyl and live bands playing surf music and more. And let’s be absolutely clear, there is not a single craft cocktail on their menu that is not worth trying. Everything the pour is fantastic and made with love.
Our mixologist for this trip was Andrew. He has a great attitude, good conversation if the bar is not packed and is Mai-Tai is out of this world!
Presentation: served in a rocks glass over crushed ice and garnished with mint and two maraschino cherries.
Flavor Profile: amazing, a perfect mix of light and dark rum with just enough sweetness. One of the best balanced mai-tais I’ve ever had outside of an island resort.
1923 Prohibition Bar (Speakeasy inside Mandalay Bay)
This is actually a great location. Super chill relaxed atmosphere with house entertainment and adjoining bar that is no less awesome. Their house craft cocktails as they go are good with a great old fashioned on the menu as well as some other classic cocktails they do well. All things considering and being on the strip in a major name property, their craft cocktails are overall affordable in the area of $20-$24 each. I of course went for one thing, the mai-tai.
They have a “Mixologist: UnkownMango Mai-Tai” on the menu that I saw immediately and ordered with zeal as our cocktail steward arrived at our table. I awaited her return with a fully whetted palate prepared for a combination of heaven with two of my favorite things in the world, mangoes and mai-tais. What arrived was okay. it was made with mango flavored rum instead of using mango juice and was very sweet and had a heavy pour of liquor. After enjoying one of their interesting craft mai-tais I was in the mood to see what they could do with a traditional mai-tai. That was a mistake, a horrible horrible mistake. Like a really regretable mistake. I spent years behind bars as a bar back, batender, even some time as a bar manager. But let me tell you this. In all my year of working in and drinking in bars I may have only asked the bartender a handful of times, “You sure you got this right”, and maybe only twice sent a drink back to the bar as fully undesirable. This occasion marked the third time that has happened because what arrived was far from a mai-tai, I was still charged full price, which yeah I guess, some kind of liquor came out of a bottle into a glass,
Presentation: poured in a standard rocks glass over bar ice garnished with mint.
Flavor profile: sweet and high liquor content that comes together once it sits, an interesting take on the traditional Mai Tai.
Presentation: served in a rocks glass over ice with lime and mint.
Flavor profile: Waaaay too limey with a horrible aftertaste like cheap liquor, actually only well bacardi silver and cheap sour lime juice with zero dark rum, orgeat, orange Caracao, or gran mariner …not at all like a proper mai-tai, sadly, avoid it at all costs!
There are tons of place in Vegas to have great drinks and good Mai-tais. What we have in this review is a prime example of a home run and a decent day at bat followed by a full on swing and a miss. The Golden Tiki is an absolute never miss location for mai-tais. You will never ever go wrong stepping through their doors or ordering any of their drinks. 1923 Prohibition Bar does alot of things right, and even their mango mai-tai is to be tried as it tasty, and may be the bees knees for some. However, they far from step up to the plate when it comes to making a classic mai-tai despite having the ingredients on hand.
Thanks so much as always for reading and see you at the Tiki Bar!
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