Recipe: Gluten-free mai tai by Susan Hart

Delicious Mai Tai Cocktail with pineapple on gorgeous beach

Delicious Mai Tai Cocktail with pineapple on gorgeous beach

I recently had the good fortune to vacation on Maui. When I travel, I’m looking for great gluten-free food, and I was not disappointed on this trip.

Chefs Mark and Judy Ellman have created a true paradise for gluten-intolerant tourists on Maui. In Lahaina, near the Cannery Mall, the Ellmans have two restaurants side-by-side. They are Mala Ocean Tavern and Honu Seafood and Pizza, both having many gluten-free options. At Mala, I tried the flat bread with lamb, feta and basil. Delicious! And seating is so close to the ocean splashes are expected.

The jewel in the crown of Ellman offerings, for me, was their 100 percent gluten-free restaurant Maui Brick Oven in Kihei. Imagine, gluten-intolerant friends, a menu with fried mozzarella sticks, onion rings, fish and chips, pizza, pastas ... and you can have it all! Or as much as you can eat at a time.

I had the beer-battered fish, onion rings, mac and cheese, and chocolate lava cake. I shared and still took some home. There’s a move to franchise Maui Brick Oven on the mainland, to which I say, yes, please!

Mama’s Fish House, on the north shore of Maui in Paia, is not one of the Ellman offerings, but is absolutely a must to experience. It is exquisite in all respects, including a listing of where each type of fish was caught that day and by whom. Prices reflect this attention to detail! The servers and chefs are well-versed in which items are gluten-free. I had grilled mahi-mahi with vegetables and a cake made of breadfruit. Oh, yes, and one of its famous Mai Tais!

The recipe for Mama’s Fish House Mai Tai is below, courtesy of Drink one and feel the aloha!


Serves 1


1 1/2 ounces light rum

1 1/2 ounces pineapple juice

1 1/2 ounces lime juice

1 splash orgeat (almond flavored syrup)

1 splash simple syrup

2 splashes orange curaçao

2 splashes grenadine or pomegranate syrup

2 ounces dark rum


Pour the light rum over ice in a glass. Add the juices, orgeat, simple syrup and half of the curaçao and grenadine. Float the dark rum on top and give it one quick stir. Add the rest of the curaçao and grenadine. Garnish with a lime wheel, paper umbrella and a tropical flower. Sip ever so slowly and enjoy!

Susan Hart has been cooking gluten-free for 17 years. She can be reached at


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