The creator of the drinks program at the Mai Kai, Ft. Lauderdale
Mariano Licudine went from working the pineapple fields in Hawaii to working in a Santa Barbara hospital, to chauffeuring Laurel and Hardy and mixing their Scotch-and-sodas. In 1939, he went to work Don’s Beachcomber, and was chosen in 1940 by Sunny Sund to help open the new Don the Beachcombers in Chicago. There he stayed sixteen years until he was poached, in 1956, by Jack and Bob Thornton to run the bar at their new Mai Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. At the Mai Kai, Licudine finally got to do things his way, and he invented dozens of drinks for their ambitious bar. Indeed, Licudine spent the remainder of his career there (at least 23 years). Licudine is buried at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Cemetery in North Lauderdale, Broward, Florida. The Mai Kai is pretty much the last surviving, intact exotic restaurant from the period.