Welcome back to our tropical journey in search of Waikiki’s best Mai Tai! In this installment, we’re visiting one of Waikiki’s iconic establishments — Duke’s Waikiki. Named after the famed Hawaiian surfer, Duke Kahanamoku, this beachfront restaurant and bar encapsulates the true spirit of Waikiki with its vibrant atmosphere, stunning views, and, of course, its delightful Mai Tais. Join us as we delve into the flavors and experiences that Duke’s Waikiki has to offer. Let’s find out if their Mai Tai can claim the coveted title of Waikiki’s Best!

Mai Tai Review: Duke’s Waikiki

Those coming to Hawaii on a long flight may want to stop at Duke’s Waikiki to decompress. Duke’s Waikiki draws on nostalgia for the golden age of Waikiki.This iconic spot is a must-visit for Mai Tai enthusiasts, promising a unique tropical cocktail experience that successfully marries traditional recipes with distinctive local flavors. Let’s get sipping and start our review!


Duke's Waikiki

At Duke’s, you can let out a breath and take it in… you’re here now. From the rear lanai you can look out over an easterly view; the gently splashing waves of Waikiki Beach creating space between you and Diamond Head. If there’s any downside to Duke’s, it’s just that it’s too darn popular. You won’t find a slow night of the week when you can slip in without a reservation. On most days it’s pretty much wall-to-wall, and you’ll need to wait to get a table.

That is of course, unless you’re just there for a drink. There’s a great little secret about Duke’s that we discovered during our recent visit; while the bar and bar-side table seating may fill up quickly, there are waiting tables out back on the rear lanai. These tables are usually set up along the back wall and are intended for guests waiting for seating to open up. Nevertheless, if you don’t mind standing, the servers are happy enough to keep you supplied with cold drinks.


In addition to an impressive cocktail menu, Duke’s also stocks some interesting local beers, like the Lahaina Town Brown by Maui Brewing Company featured above. As for Duke’s signature Mai Tai, it reaches the higher end of the price range at $12 per glass, but justifies the cost with fresh ingredients and unique flavors.


Duke's Waikiki

A special blend of juice, most notably guava, gives Duke’s Mai Tai its unmistakable floral finish. Each tiki head comes adorned with a wedge of fresh-cut pineapple. You’ll never be served a skewer of pre-canned and eerily incandescent fruit. This tropical delight is a brilliant blend of light and dark rum, perfectly balanced with the sweet-tart flavor of guava. The result? A refreshing cocktail that bursts with a taste of paradise.


Duke's Waikiki Mai Tai
Don't miss a classic cocktail in Waikiki. © VELTRA

If I had to describe Duke’s Mai Tai in a word, it would be “fresh”. Working your way through the glass, you get a weird mix of feelings: simultaneously energized and refreshed, while also unwound and relaxed. Maybe thanks to the guava, all the bite of the rum is blended out in a wash of great flavors. But who knows, maybe Jason spiked my drink!

Stay tuned, as our endeavor to discover the best Mai Tai in Waikiki continues. In our upcoming review, we will be visiting another renowned establishment and sharing our experiences. If you’re joining us, do check out our other Mai Tai posts.


2270 Kalakaua Ave
Suite 1701
Honolulu, HI 96815 USA
(808) 690-9990 (Direct)

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