The daiquiri is both a ridiculously simple cocktail to make and a ridiculously easy one to screw up. It’s also a great way to start talking about rum.
Note: Rum is an immensely diverse spirit. Styles and flavors vary greatly by country of origin and method of distillation. I had no idea just how complicated this subject was when I started down this path. I’ll do a separate blog post all about rum.
History of the Daiquiri:
Although the combination of rum, lime, and sugar existed for many years in Cuba, the drink was first documented by Jennings Cox, an American engineer who lived and worked in Cuba after the Spanish-American War. He named it after a nearby beach named Daiquiri (dye-ki-ree.) We know he wrote it up in 1898 because we have his recipe from his diary. (Since ‘lemons’ were unavailable in Cuba, the recipe actually used limes.)
In 1909, the drink was brought to the Army and Navy Club in Washington, DC by Admiral Lucius W. Johnson.
The frozen daiquiri was created in the 1920s in the Havana bar, La Floridita, by owner (and bartender) Constantino "Constante" Ribalaigua Vert using shaved ice and the newly-invented Waring electric blender. That bar is where Ernest Hemingway (being a diabetic) created his own low-sugar version of the drink. With a few modifications, including the addition of grapefruit juice and Maraschino liqueur, the Hemingway Daiquiri (aka Papa Doble) was born.
A dark period followed when the Daiquiri devolved into a cloyingly sweet slushy like you can get at 7-11 - best associated with crowded beaches, sticky boardwalks, and college spring breaks. It was no longer regarded as a serious drink.
The drink’s resurrection began in the 1990s. A big proponent was Jeff “Beachbum” Berry who put the restored drink back on the menu at his Latitude 29 bar and restaurant in New Orleans.
The newly-rediscovered classic daiquiri is simple, tart, fresh, and very well balanced. (Yes, all the best drinks are perfectly balanced.)
It should be easy, right?
Joaquin Simó, once of Death & Co, and creator of some of my favorite drinks, says that when he goes to a bar, he orders a daiquiri while he decides what he wants to drink. He knows to stick to beer or wine if the bartender can’t make a decent daiquiri, i.e. can’t balance three ingredients (OK, he’s a bit of a snob, but then, so am I.)
Learn to make this drink properly. If you have friends, they will be amazed to learn how wrong they’ve been to turn their noses up at the daiquiri for all these years. If you don’t have friends, well, you can still enjoy the perfect daiquiri all by your lonesome.
2 oz of unaged Cuban rum
2/3 oz of lime juice
2 tsp of granulated cane sugar
Garnish: lime twist
Chill a coupe glass. The glass should be frosty when pulled from the freezer.
Add the lime juice and sugar to a cocktail shaker and stir until the sugar is dissolved. This might take a little work.