Today Is "Real Mai Tai Day" at Trader Vic's

Celebrating the invention of mai tais by its original owner, the Emeryville restaurant is selling them for 44 cents tonight.


All images by Kristan Lawson

Tonight's the night when, from 4 p.m. to closing time, Trader Vic's in Emeryville is serving 44-cent mai tais to celebrate "The Real Mai Tai Day" -- marking the 73rd anniversary of that rummy, citrusy cocktail's invention in nearby Oakland in 1944 by the restaurant's founder, Victor "The Trader" Bergeron.

Launched by Trader Vic's and commissioned by the City of Oakland -- because the original Trader Vic's was at 6500 San Pablo Ave. -- tonight's celebration at the tiki-tastic, panoramic palace of Polynesiana will also feature pupus, new tropical bites, and other festive treats.

At a sneak preview last night, as soft tropical music mixed with the swish of rigging on boats docked mere yards away across the sparkling, sunset-tinted tides, we met "The Trader"'s granddaughter, Eve Bergeron. She told us that among her treasured memories are boxes of gravel and silt she received as a child from the world-famous restaurateur, who suggested that she sift through them to find crystals, fossils, and semiprecious stones. These fondly quirky gifts spurred a lifelong love for rockhounding.

Served at last night's sneak preview were fragrant lamb chops, sumptuous morels atop toast-triangles, and more -- including, of course, gigantic mint-festooned mai tais. 

In this era of the $12 Manhattan, 44 cents is the kind of nostalgia we like. 


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