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Taste the magic of our mai tai

House Without a Key is one of the best restaurants in Waikiki for casual dining, watching the amazing sunset and listening to live Hawaiian entertainment. It’s also the ideal location for sipping a tropical drink, such as our celebrated mai tai. 

Wing Liu, bartender at House Without A Key, is an expert at blending the flavors of our signature cocktail to create the perfect accompaniment to the views of iconic Diamond Head and the sunset over Waikiki beach. One of several long-term staff at Halekulani, he started his career here in 1977.  Liu remembers when Halekulani reopened more than 30 years ago. “We had been serving tropical drinks, but we wanted to create one cocktail that would really define us,” he says. “So we sat down, brainstormed and decided that we were going to create a mai tai that we wouldn’t say was the best, but that our guests would tell us was the best.”

Halekulani wanted to offer a drink that was a reflection of the property, so they created a cocktail that captured the look as well as the flavor of our tropical sunshine.

Our signature mai tai includes the distinct blend of three rums, Bacardi Gold, Bacardi Select and Bacardi 151, a light brown, distilled rum that is 151 proof. The mai tai are always made with freshly squeezed lime juice, which balances beautifully with the Orgeat syrup, a sweet syrup made from almonds.  To start, the first layer of the mai tai is a blend of the golden rum and orange curaçao, and evokes the golden sunshine of our beachfront location. The combination offers a smooth, mellow taste. It is then topped with the Bacardi 151, for an instant hit of flavor the moment you take your first sip. The fresh and tantalizing cocktail deserves an equally fresh garnish of fresh mint and sugar cane stick.

“We started making this drink back when Halekulani reopened and we continue to make it the same way today,” Wing says. “The recipe hasn’t changed, because it’ a part of our legacy and our guests tell us that it’s the best mai tai they’ve ever had - which was our ultimate goal, back in 1983.”