At the Table

A Cuban Spin on the Classic Mai Tai

By: The Local Palate

Make Mine a Mai Tai

A darling of beach bars and tiki menus, the mai tai is celebrating its seventy-fifth birthday this month. The simple citrus-and-almond tipple was first slung at Trader Vic’s in Oakland, California, as a means to highlight its star ingredient: aged Jamaican rum. (We won’t mention the bastardized grenadine- and juice-filled versions so often billed under the same name.)

Although the mai tai originated nearly 3,000 miles from his native Cuba, mixology master Julio Cabrera sees a place for it in the island’s cocktail canon; tropical is tropical, no matter what ocean you’re on. For Cabrera, the proprietor of Miami’s new Cafe La Trova, that means slipping fresh banana into his homemade orgeat—along with a hint of coffee, which always plays well with rum—for a mai tai ripe for celebrating the next seventy-five years.

Julio Cabrera’s La Trova Mai Tai

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