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lost lake
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

The 6 best mai tais in Chicago

Transport yourself to an island with one of these rummy concoctions found all over the city and at tiki hot spots

By Elizabeth Atkinson

Packed with rum and citrus, this refreshing cocktail is the perfect escape from the mundane. Whether it's 90 degrees and the middle of summer or below zero and the depths of winter, you can find great mai tais at some of the city's best cocktail bars to help you sip your worries away.

RECOMMENDED: Our guide to cocktails in Chicago

lost lake
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Mai Tai at Lost Lake

Bars Cocktail bars Avondale

While there’s bound to be a play on this tiki standard featured on the menu at Paul McGee’s mirage come-to-life in Logan Square, you can order the classic version from the well-versed bar staff’s second “secret” menu any day of the week. Served in Lost Lake’s own custom glassware (available for $15 if you’d like to take it home), this Mai Tai proves why it's become a tropical staple. The heady combination of orange liqueur and lime juice conceals the strength of the rum, so sip slowly—this drink packs a punch. —Rebecca Skoch

Three Dots and a Dash
Photograph: Anjali M. PInto

Mai Tai at Three Dots and a Dash

Bars Cocktail bars River North

Julian Cox's new menu comes out strong with a few classics (and plenty of originals), including the classic mai tai. The version at Three Dots and a Dash is an incredibly drinkable concoction of Martinique agricole, Jamaican rum, orgeat and lime. It comes with a big tiki flourish on top—and while we knocked this one back, we are very much certain it packs a punch. $14. —EA

Photograph: Courtesy Tiki Terrace

Tiki Terrace

Restaurants Hawaiian Suburbs

Hidden in an unassuming storefront in the suburbs, Tiki Terrace is a delightful (albeit out-of-the-way) place to spend the evening enjoying luau dancers, coconut shrimp and rum cocktails. Predating the current tiki boom, it has all the kitschy, winning charm you’d expect from a traditional Tiki spot. This aesthetic is reflected in the bar’s signature Mai Tai, a bracing concoction of Myer’s Dark Rum, fruit juice, curaçao and topped with a bright red maraschino cherry skewered by a paper umbrella. —RS

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Mai Tai at Moneygun

Bars Cocktail bars West Loop

I've yet to find a cocktail I don't like on Moneygun's list, packed with classics and original recipes. The mai tai at Moneygun does just that—it doesn't stray from the recipe and delivers a well balanced, delicious tiki cocktail. It's fruity, and it makes for a great starting point before you dive into the rest of the menu. $10.75. —Elizabeth Atkinson

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Mai Tai at California Clipper

Bars Cocktail bars Humboldt Park

The mai tai at California Clipper is a mouthful even for the most seasoned of cocktail drinkers. Coming in an extremely tall glass (seriously, we had to bend the straw to drink it), this version is packed with light and dark rums, Cointreau, Cherry Heering, vanilla almond syrup, cherry, orange, lime and pineapple juices and Angostura bitters. It's large enough to keep you happy for a round or two. $12. —Elizabeth Atkinson

Photograph: Courtesy Barrelhouse Flat

The Barrelhouse Flat

Bars Cocktail bars Sheffield & DePaul

The island standby at this Lincoln Park cocktail joint is packed with Appleton Estate V/X, La Favorite Rhum, lime, dry curaçao and orgeat syrup, making this mai tai pretty darn strong. We don't mind though, because with the rest of Barrelhouse Flat's rum cocktails, we could definitely settle in at the upstairs lounge for the night. $13. —EA


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