Hemingway Daiquiri

by Matt Robold on May 26, 2010

Post image for Hemingway Daiquiri

Hemingway Daiquiri

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

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Serve frappe. (Download)

Daiquiris, Daiquiris everywhere and oh so many to drink.  These days there are more Daiquiri “variations” than you can shake a Japanese Barspoon at, with everything from strawberries to thyme to bacon in them.  Perhaps the most famous and somewhat hazy variant is the one named for author and Olympian drinker Ernest Hemingway: The Hemingway Daiquiri.

If the Daiquiri is the Holy Grail of rum mixology, the Hemingway Daiquiri may be the Lost Ark.  Everyone claims to know what it is, but the actual history around it is somewhat nebulous.

The cocktail above is what you’ll commonly receive if you order a Hemingway Daiquiri.  It is essentially La Florida Bartender Constante Grande’s Daiquiri #3.  The 1935 edition of the La Florida Cocktail Book instructs the maker to serve the drink frappe, meaning that the cocktail glass should be filled with crushed ice.  This is actually still very common with Daiquiri service in Cuba and Spain today – and it’s ridiculously good.

Now, looking at this you may ask, What, exactly, is so nebulous about the Hemingway Daiquiri?

The nebulous part is that nowhere in the Big Constante’s bar guides does he ever refer to a drink as the “Hemingway Daiquiri.”

hemingway_ernestThe recipe above was used for quite some time as La Florida’s house Daiquiri.  This has led several to claim that this recipe is not the Hemingway Daiquiri, but rather the Floridita Daiquiri – another “famous” Daiquiri variant that is never mentioned in Constante’s work.

The evidence against the recipe being the Floridita (a diminutive, “nick-name” version of Florida, often used by locals when referring to La Florida), is somewhat circumstantial, but sufficient for me –  and near as I can tell, for Ted Haigh, aka Doctor Cocktail.  In Ted’s opus, Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, he lists the recipe for the Floridita Daiquiri as matching what Constante referred to as Daiquiri #4, which is essentially the same as the recipe above, minus the grapefruit juice.

By their 1939 edition [of  the La Florida Cocktail Cocktail Book], Constante…listed five daiquiris, #3 [was] the grapefruit variety.  Two pages beyond the daiquiri recipes is a cocktail titled the “E. Henmingway [sic] Special.”  It was the grapefruit recipe, blended.

This makes sense to me, especially since in the 1935 edition of Constantino’s guide, the Daiquiri #4 is subtitled “Florida Style.”  Plus, who am I to argue with Doctor Cocktail?  He’s got “Doctor” in his title!

Regardless of which recipe was the Floridita Daiquiri, the Hemingway Daiquiri still has plenty of history to it.  Wayne Curtis outlines the connection between Papa Hemingway and Constante’s creation in his work, And a Bottle of Rum:

As [Constante] presided over his bar one day, a scruff, bearish man entered and asked to use the toilet.  According to one account, when the man emerged from the bathroom and saw the daiquiris lined up on the bar, his curiousity was piqued.  He asked for a sip.  “That’s good, but I prefer it without sugar and double rum,” the man said.  Constantino mixed one up to those specifications, and the man declared it very good.  He was, of course, Ernest Hemingway.  This modified version of the daiquiri became known as the Papa Doble.  A later variation also enjoyed by Hemingway included a splash of grapefruit juice and a dash of maraschino liqueur: The Hemingway Special.

Mr. Curtis actually brings up another interesting point.  You’ll note that in the account, the Papa Doble is invented when Hemingway orders the house Daiquiri with double the rum and no sugar.  While the topic of which Daiquiri that was is still hotly debated (and the subject of a whole ‘nother post), what is obvious is that the Papa Doble is not the same drink as the Hemingway Daiquiri.

Suggested Rums:

This is an important point because all too often I see bartenders and mixologists use the terms Hemingway Daiquiri and Papa Doble interchangeably, as though they are two names for the same drink.  This is not the case.

Whereas the Doble was the house Daiquiri with no sugar and twice as much rum, the modern Hemingway Daiquiri and even the 1939 Hemingway Special both have only 2 ounces of rum and both contain sugar.  There’s no way that either can be considered the Papa Doble.

In terms of the actual Hemingway Daiquiri, if we take the E. Hemingway Special and use it as the actual recipe, we see that it should be blended instead of shaken and served frappe-style, and none of the recipes call for the drink to be served “up.”  This goes against what you commonly find served today at most cocktail bars.  Part of the reason for this is the distaste for blenders in classic cocktail bars and the desire to bring the public around to the idea that Daiquiris do not come from slushee machines.

Personally I think that the Hemingway Daiquiri, like the original Daiquiri, is good enough that you should drink it in the way that you like – whether that be up, frappe or blended to a smooth slush.

In the end, we’re left with deductions and little in the way of real detail.  We know that Hemingway liked Daiquiris at La Florida.  We know that the Papa Doble was the first Hemingway-inspired Daiquiri, and we know that Constante added an “E. Henmingway Special” to his bar guide in 1939 which seems to be the Daiquiri #3 recipe, but blended.

As Ted Haigh says in his book, “Those are the facts, and from there the story goes straight to Hell.”


Question of the Day:

Where do you stand on the Hemingway Daiquiri debate?

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