The Mai Tai was invented in California in the 1930s or '40s, though exact origins are in dispute. The cocktail had its heyday in the 1950s and '60s, its popularity enhanced by the Elvis Presley movie Blue Hawaii. The name is most likely derived from maita'i, the Tahitian word for good or excellence.
The drink is very sweet. A drier Curaçao would probably help with that, too. Generally speaking, I don't find rum drinks as interesting as whiskey drinks - less dimension. As for the bitters, we didn't taste it much. More would be better. Maybe when I work on that Goth Mai Tai, I'll add more.