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Trader Vic's letter Mai Tai recipe

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Apologies for posting this in its own thread - but that is actually my question.
A keyword search turned up no Royal Hawaiian Honolulu location in "locating tiki."
And I don't know what thread this would be best suited for otherwise.
Recipes, Trader Vic's? It did seem worth preserving in some manner on this forum.

The text of the letter is below the attached images.

(This is currently on some auction website for $1600 - so I anticipate any thread replies by expert archeologists may comment on that as well.)

Also this website complements the information in the letter
Let's Set the Record Straight on the Mai Tai
by Victor J. Bergeron
"Trader Vic"
San Francisco 1970

From the auction listing

1956 Original Trader Vic's Signed Mai Tai Recipe Letter

The letter reads as follows

(Letterhead) Trader Vic's

20 Cosmo Place, San Francisco 9, California

May 24th, 1956

Mrs. Edwin B. Hausfeld

4727 Glenway Ave.

Cincinnati 38, Ohio

Dear Hausfeld:

Your letter addressed to Jack Fischbeck of the Royal Hawaiian in Honolulu for reply. I am only too happy to send you the recipe for the Mai Tai as served here and at the Royal Hawaiian. Both Mr. Fischbeck and I are pleased that you have enjoyed this libation.


Mix in 16 oz. tumbler with shaved ice:

Juice of one lime - drop half shell in glass

Dash of Rock Candy Syrup

Dash of Curacoa

Dash of Orgeat Syrup

1 1/2 oz. Trader Vic's Puerto Rico Rum

3/4 oz. Meyer's Planters Punch Rum

Stir and decorate with fresh mint.




Mrs. Hausfeld recently passed at 92 and apparantly enjoyed the Mai Tai so much on her visit to the Royal Hawaiian that she wrote the concierge for the recipe (Mr. Fischbeck). He then forwarded the letter to Victor Bergeron, aka Trader Vic, at his San Francisco location. Mr. Bergeron then wrote this nice letter back to Mrs. Hausfeld with the recipe, probably only too happy to promote the drink he claims to have invented. So here you have an original, signed letter from the inventor of one of the most famous mixed drinks during the height of the Polynesian/Hawaiian craze of the 1940's and 50's. A very rare piece of memorabilia.

Seller info
Member id laz-e-bid

[ Edited by: martian-tiki 2010-07-12 17:12 ]

[ Edited by: martian-tiki 2010-07-12 17:36 ]


After Vic had a falling out and sold his half of the original Hawaii Trader Vic's on Ward Avenue to "Granny" Abbott, he struck a deal to supervise the drinks at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel from afar as he built his mainland franchise. Nice letter.

Waikiki Tiki; Art, History, and Photographs.
October 1st, 2010 from Bess Press Hawaii.

[ Edited by: Phillip Roberts 2010-07-12 17:30 ]

TikiG posted on Tue, Jul 13, 2010 8:25 AM

This same letter was posted on eBay a week or two ago. Buy It Now price? $2000.00. It did not find a buyer at that price.

Now its listed for $1600.00? Good Luck, seller - more power to you if you find a buyer!


Great letter in not that great of condition.Definitely not worth $2,000 or $1,600.
I have seen other similar letters floating around out there.Vic was very good about
follow up with patrons, that's why he had such a good following.

Maybe this thread could be the "letters from trader vic's preservation thread."

The address on that letter. 4727 Glenway Ave Cincinnati 45238, is directly across the street from my house! The house is still there, although with different owners now. Weird coincidence, eh?

[ Edited by: CincyTikiCraig 2010-07-14 20:43 ]


On 2010-07-14 20:42, CincyTikiCraig wrote:
The address on that letter. 4727 Glenway Ave Cincinnati 45238, is directly across the street from my house! The house is still there, although with different owners now. Weird coincidence, eh?

[ Edited by: CincyTikiCraig 2010-07-14 20:43 ]

Well, that's just plain freaky.

I was able to purchase the letter for an extremely discounted amount (made an offer based on its condition) and since my business is art & paper conservation, I fixed the letter...I have attached photos!

Congratulations on this purchase.

can you describe at all the restoration process?

Welcome to the forum as I see its your first post.

Paper conservation...lots of chemicals to remove unwanted sticky tape residue, methylcellulose & sodium carboxymethylcellulose, very thin Japanese paper for repairing of paper tears, hydrogen peroxide for toning paper color and "bleaching". We were so pleased with the end result of this piece...a HUGE change!


It looks great. Out of curiousity, does something like this lose "value" (monetarily speaking) when you restore it?

Welcome to TC :) Great work, looks brand new! But I'm with arriano, seems an old letter that looks old would seem more authentic than than an old letter that has the "freshly printed" look :D

To conserve.restore the letter or not...that is the question. A great site to help you through those answers is http://www.audubonart.com and click on RESTORATION then click on QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS. It will provide you with a good education and I would be happy to provide an estimate for any work you are seeking to have done. Our site is http://www.lawrenceconservation.com ... click on ART CONSERVATION. Lastly, if you looked at the letter live/in-person in its current condition, you would never know that any conservation work was performed on this piece...unless you are a trained conservator. Mahalo!

@ Arriano...value is added to the piece. My clients must always consider what they paid for a piece and how much they need to invest to conserve the piece. Very often those tow added together outweigh the overall value. However, most of our clients have no interest in selling the piece and it is often a family item or an item of sentimental value...i.e.: an oil painting of Great-Grandma from 1880 or a marriage certificate from 1920, etc.

This letter is a very important piece of the historical puzzle about how the Mai Tai evolved. So glad that TC is back up and I can get back to this thread.

We wrote extensively about this recipe and include some suggestions for modern ingredients to make this at home. https://ultimatemaitai.com/about/history/1956-mai-tai/

Kevin, just wanted to say that you've done a great job upgrading your site from its former HTML 1.0 glory. Hope my old review of the Beverly Hills Trader Vic's is still up there somewhere.

Also, amazing job on the letter restoration, TikiFramer!

[ Edited by MrBaliHai on 2022-04-24 12:12:41 ]

Long time Instagram follower of Ultimate Mai Tai, Kevin. Nice to see you on TC (finally).

I think I'll give your "adjusted" 1956 Mai Tai a try.

Still on the old site. I didn't move any of the old reviews over to the new blog, but did move the essays. http://kevdo.com/maitai/reviews/tradervicsbh.html

Nice to see you on TC (finally)

I was on here starting in 2018.

[ Edited by kevincrossman on 2022-04-25 07:47:50 ]

I am going to try this with Hamilton Florida Rum Society blend standing in for the Myers's Plantation Punch Rum. Since it's a Guyanese/Jamaican blend coming in at 90 proof, it could be a closer approximation than the 114 Navy. Hmm in fact, I'll try both versions and see if there's a noticeable difference. FRS is 35/65 Jamaican to Guyana vs 114 which is 40/60. Especially since you reported that the Plantation Punch Rum has noticeably less funk than other offerings, these both could be an okay sub.

You may have been, but I wasn't!

My article about the (De)Evolution of the Hawaiian Mai Tai is out now, you can learn more here: https://tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic_id=53910&post_id=803527&start=0#post-803527

This letter is truly an important part of the story. Without this letter, signed by Trader Vic himself, we'd never know if the similar recipes we saw were bastardizations or in fact the slight riffs they turned out to be. Similarly, without the other published recipes it would be difficult to know if the recipe represented here was an actual recipe used at the Royal Hawaiian. Because we have full context we now feel confident this was the recipe used there.

Great work as always, Kevin. Also the FRS blend works amazingly well in this version of a Mai Tai. Give it a go if you get a chance. I think I posted some results to the FB Tiki Recipes group.

I used FRS in the '58, but that version was terrible. https://ultimatemaitai.com/2022/05/16/1958-royal-hawaiian-mai-tai/

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