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The Story Behind Bali Hai's World Famous Mai Tai

How many have been sold through the years?

There is perhaps no drink more iconic in San Diego than Bali Hai's World Famous Mai TaiAnd anyone who's had more than one of the potent drink has basked in its afterglow.

First opened in 1955 by Tom Ham — and named after a song from the musical "South Pacific" — the Bali Hai has been continuously family-owned and operated for the past 60 years. It's currently run by the third generation of the Baumann family.

Though the tiki temple's design and food offerings were refreshed in 2010, the classic drink menu held fast. Besides the Mai Tai, other Bali Hai originals include the Zombie, Goof Punch and Mr. Bali Hai, a lower octane version of the Mai Tai. Some cocktails come with the option of a signature Bali Hai keeper tiki mug.

The recipe for the Mai Tai was created by the Trader Vic's restaurant chain in the late 40s and it's been the same since day one at Bali Hai. A counter over the bar keeps a running tally of how many have been consumed over the years — more than two million sold to date.

The Bali Hai menu boasts that there is no fruit juice added to their Mai Tai. It's just a dangerously drinkable mix of Coruba Jamaican Dark Rum, Ron Castillo Light Rum, a dash of orange liqueur, dash of Trader Vic’s orgeat syrup, and a splash of sweet & sour.

Bali Hai Restaurant

2230 Shelter Island Drive, , CA 92106 (619) 222-1181 Visit Website