By Stephen Visakay
VICTOR JULES BERGERON, Jr.
December 10, 1902 – October 11, 1984
Bergeron designed and patented two swizzles and a cocktail pick for his worldwide chain of Polynesian restaurants, known as Trader Vic’s. All patents were granted on the same date February 3, 1959.
- Hawaiian outrigger canoe paddle with Tiki God handle. # Des.184,333
- Hawaiian War Club. # Des.184,334
- Tiki God cocktail pick that will sit on the rim of a cocktail glass. # Des.184,335
It all began for Bergerone in 1934, when he opened a small bar/restaurant in Oakland California named Hinky Dink’s. He became a popular host with his pungent vocabulary and potent tropical rum drinks and his Americanized adaptations of Polynesian food. It was one of the most popular watering holes in the Bay Area attracting sophisticated urbanites like writers Barnaby Conrad, Herb Caen and Lucius Beebe. By 1936 when Caen wrote that “the best restaurant in San Francisco is in Oakland” Vic had become “The Trader” and Hinky Dink’s had become “Trader Vic’s.”
As recounted by Trader Vic history the Mai Tai was invented by Bergeron in 1944 when he mixed Jamaican rum, lime juice, a few dashes each of orange curaco syrup, French orgeat and rock candy syrup. He served this drink to his two friends from Tahiti, who was there that night, and after one sip they exclaimed “Mai Tai – Roa Ae.” In Tahitian this means “Out of This World – The Best.” The new drink became known as Mai Tai.
During the Tiki culture fad of the 1950s and 1960s Trader Vic’s restaurants were in operation around the world, all featuring the popular mix of Polynesian artifacts, unique rum cocktails and exotic cuisine. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s the empire began to shrink as a new generation of people had little or no connection to the restaurants Tiki theme.
Today with the turn of a new millennium and resurgence toward retro-cocktails Trader Vic’s and Tiki culture, has experienced an explosive resurgence as the internet driven generation X discovers and adopts the rum drinks and Tiki atmosphere as its own. Trader Vic’s has 25 locations around the globe today equaling the previous chain record set in the 1960s, with more to open shortly. Can a new generation of swizzle sticks be far behind?
- Mai Tai recipe
- 2 ounces Jamaican Rum
- 1/2 ounce French Orgeat
- 1/2 ounce Orange Curacao
- 1/4 ounce Rock Candy Syrup
- Juice from one Fresh Lime
- Hand shake well with ice and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
- Sources; and for more reading:
note; a patent search failed to find any designers of the Menehunes cocktail pick stamped Trader Vic’s