Mai Kai Restaurant: History of a South Florida Institution | Clean Plate Charlie | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

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Mai Kai Restaurant: History of a South Florida Institution

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Although the restaurant offers a wide ranging menu, its best known for its tiki-cocktails. Since opening, the restaurant's cocktail recipes have been kept a secret. Only the Head Mixologist knows the recipes and he or she is obligated to sign a paper stating that the recipes will not be given away. Many of the recipes have remained the same since 1956.

At one point someone counted a collection of 118 rums on the premises. In fact, the restaurant still has bottles of Bacardi rum made in Cuba before Castro took over. Unfortunately, they're not on the menu.

The drink menu is now divided up into non-alcoholic tropical drinks, such as the Maui Sunrise ($6.25) made with fresh peach, banana, other fruit juices, and passion fruit syrup; mild tropical drinks like the Floridita Daiquiri ($7.75) described as "Ernest Hemingway's favorite from the Floridita Bar in Old Havana, the famous grapefruit daiquiri;" medium tropical drinks, including the Tahitian Breeze ($9.25), "A delightfully refreshing blend of light rum, passion fruit, and fresh juices;" and strong tropical drinks like the Mai Tai ($13), "Made smoother here by the subtle introduction of Appleton 12 year old Jamaican rum."

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Sara Ventiera