As a public service announcement we note that July 19 is National Daiquiri Day. With that out of the way the Drink of the Day isn’t a big mystery, but it hardly means there aren’t plenty of things to say. After all, we need to cover the history of the Daiquiri as well as the Daiquiri recipe.
History of the Daiquri
Unlike many things in the drinking world the origin of the daiquiri is not terribly controversial. Daiquiri, you see, is the name of a beach and iron mine near Santiago de Cuba, the island’s second largest city. Enter an American engineer, Jennings Cox, around 1898 at the end of the Spanish-American War, who was running operations there. He established a rum ration for the mine workers, which we think is one helluva better job perk than Hazelnut Keurig pods in the office break room.
People tell different stories, but it’s not terribly important whether the recipe came from formulating the rum ration or on the spur of the moment when Cox received American guests and found he had run out of gin. By whatever path, Cox recorded the recipe in his journal and there is little controversy that he was first.
The daiquiri was pretty much a local affair in Cuba until 1909 when Rear Admiral Lucious W. Johnson, a U.S. Navy medical officer, was visiting Cuba and met Cox. Johnson took the recipe back to the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C. and from that point the race was off. It became notably popular in the 1940’s when war rationing made whiskey scarce but rum was readily available through Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor policy, which facilitated trade with Latin America and the Caribbean.
The daiquiri, of course, was also one of Hemingway’s favorite drinks and we covered one variation, the Papa Doble, for Fred Waring’s birthday. Then again, what wasn’t one of Hemingway’s favorite drinks? He went native wherever he was and made good use of local, plentiful spirits. Then there’s also the Nuclear Daiquiri.
How to mix the Daiquiri
On to the drink. The daiquiri, like many great things, has been twisted into assorted forms. There are frozen daiquiris in which people make strawberry-rum slushies, but are cruel and hold them back from the kids. There are daiquiris made from bananas and who knows what other kinds of fruit. Please note that if you now start waxing poetic about a banana daiquiri you will earn special scorn here as our Editorial Board believes that drink qualifies for the Sink of Shame™.
But it’s not as though there isn’t flexibility. If you like you can employ a blender. After all, how you make Hemingway’s Papa Doble and is common practice in Cuba. There’s also the Witches Daiquiri we talked about in the context of the Salem Witch Trials. But here we’re going to call for the basic daiquiri, the standard edition, the classic cocktail.
And a true classic it is, the daiquiri being one of the cocktails anyone learning to mix drinks must master, and one of the drinks that knowledgeable bartenders will use to judge another’s chops. Many bartenders will order a daiquiri when going to a new bar for the first time. If it’s not up to snuff they’re certainly not going to have much faith in any of the bar’s original creations and will likely stick to beer or whiskey, neat. A daiquiri is really just another example of something from the sours family – a base spirit, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener – but the sweet spot (pun intended) is delicate and depends on such things as how sour your limes are.
- Cocktail glass
- Pour ingredients into your trusty shaking tin
- Add ice and shake until frosty cold
- Strain into chilled cocktail glass
- Rinse and repeat, adjusting simple syrup amount as needed