by Matt Robold on May 17, 2010

Post image for Daiquiri


2 oz Rum
.75 oz Lime Juice
1 tsp Sugar or .5 oz Simple Syrup

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

In the world of rum there are iconic drinks and then there are ICONIC drinks.  While most people may not be familiar with the Palmetto or the Twelve Mile Limit, just about everyone the world over knows of the Mai Tai and the Mojito.  Both drinks are standard-bearers for rum, but both also share a common ancestor – the most iconic rum drink of all, the Daiquiri.

A simple rum sour, the Daiquiri is perhaps the single most important rum drink ever created, and one more abused than any other as well.

Fresh lime juice, rum and just the right amount of sugar should mix together to form an incredibly refreshing drink.  This is a cocktail that you want to sip when the weather is warm and you need something crisp.  Unfortunately, there has been a tendency of mass-produced daiquiris to somewhat sully the reputation of what I consider to be the world’s most perfect drink.

If you look above, you’ll notice that nowhere in the recipe does it call for Sweet & Sour mix or a special daiquiri machine to make the drink.  In fact, the original daiquiri requires no blender of any sort.

lime_iceThe daiquiri is said to have originated in Cuba at the end of the 19th Century, but its roots stretch back much further.  Rum, sugar and lime was hardly a new idea by the time the daiquiri came into being.  The most famously recorded early example of the rum sour comes from the British Navy in 1740 when Admiral Vernon started issuing sailors their rations of grog – a mixture of rum, sugar and lime.

After the Spanish-American War, American servicemen and industrialists found themselves spending a lot of time in Cuba.  Here is where legends start to mingle with mixilogical history.  As Wayne Curtis points out in his masterful And a Bottle of Rum, there are several distinct stories detailing the creation of the daiquiri.  Most credit an American by the name of Jennings Cox, who managed mines near the town of Daquiri, in Cuba.  From these facts the story fragments into versions involving him creating the drink because he was out of gin (unlikely), he was hosting a collection of dignitaries including Facundo Bacardi, or that he did not invent the drink at all but simply gave the drink its name.

Other possible histories involve another American, William Shafter.  According to legend, Shafter took the preferred libation of the Cuban rebels (rum, sugar and lime) and added America’s greatest addition to mixology: ice.

Whatever the actual origins of the drink, it was a hit.

By the time the US found itself locked in the grips of Prohibition, Americans were flocking to Havana to sample daiquiris of all shapes and sizes.  The drink grew and evolved as the more well-known bars and bartenders in Havana tried to find more and newer ways to tickle the American palate.

Perhaps most famously – when it comes to daiquiris – was La Florida and its most famous bartender, Constantino Ribalaigua Vert (aka El Grande Constante).  The Big Constante took the daiquiri to new and dizzying heights and drew praise from the glitterati of his age, as well as the faithful following and patronage of one Ernest Hemingway.

Floridita_BookConstante created numerous variations of the daiquiri.  The number 1, or original daiquiri, was made with 2 ounces of Bacardi rum, 1 teaspoonful of sugar and the juice of one half of a lime (the famous La Florida Cocktail Guide says “lemon” but the Spanish side of the recipe says limon verde or green lemon – meaning lime).  Other versions added Curacao (the #2), Maraschino (the #4 and eventually Floridita Daquiri) and finally grapefruit juice, Maraschino and a bigger helping of rum (the famous Hemingway Daiquiri).

Anyone who has studied American Literature probably knows that Ernest Hemingway was quite fond of daiquiris during his time in Havana.  If there was one thing that Hemingway was famous for other than his incredibly dry and sparse prose, it was his Herculean drinking – especially of my favorite drink.

One thing that might not be as well-known though is that the manly man that was Papa Hemingway liked his daiquiris blended.

But Dood, you just argued that blended daiquiris were wrong!  You’ve said so many times!

Somewhere along the way in Havana, people figured out that you could achieve the proper dilution and frigidity of a daiquiri by mixing it in a blender.  This isn’t as much of a leap as you might think.

The original recipe calls for the drink to be shaken with cracked ice.  It’s a small step from that to crushed ice, and a daiquiri served over crushed ice is an incredibly tasty treat – a daiquiri frappe!

In Cuba and Spain today, in fact, you can order your daiquiris either way.  On particularly warm days it can be difficult to find a better way to enjoy a daiquiri than to prepare it normally (no blender) and then strain it into a cocktail glass or Double Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed ice.  The drink stays blindingly cold and there is no way you’ll have any ice left when you finish it after downing it in 2 or 3 “sips.”

Suggested Rums:

When it comes to rums, the daiquiri continues to be one of the most versatile and interesting drinks ever.  Purists will insist that you can only make a daiquiri with white rum (some will go so far as to argue only white Cuban rum or only Bacardi White).  I find this to be an overly-rigid definition.  The daiquiri is a drink that lends itself to experimentation.

One of my favorite drinks is what a lot of bartenders today are calling an Añejo Daiquiri – a daiquiri made with aged rum.  The differences as you move from one rum to another allow you to tweak the proportions of sugar to rum to lime to get just the right balance and find a daiquiri that suits any weather and any mood.

This may be one of the very few rum drinks which I encourage people to try with every rum they can get their hands on.  It’s a drink tailor-made to be tailor-made.  It is, to be bold, the world’s most perfect drink.

Question of the Day

What’s your favorite way to make your Daiquiri?



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