Daiquiri

Being a geek about anything means you get The Question.

“What’s your favorite (music, manga, fill in your particular passion here)?”

As a guy who writes about all sorts of drink recipes, I hate to admit bibulous bias. “Depends,” I’ll lie, followed by some qualifying crap about the season, the occasion, the company I’m with.

But the answer I’m always thinking is this: Daiquiri.

Often incorrectly made (real ones don’t come from Slurpee machines), the Daiquiri has been dismissed as a girly cocktail drink. That would be news to fans such as J.F.K and Ernest Hemingway, who had his own excellent take on this classic shaker cocktail called the Papa Doble (more on that in a sec).

As with most cocktails, the Daiquiri’s origins are much debated. Most cocktail nerds side with the story that a couple of American engineers stationed in a Cuban mining town called (what else) Daiquiri in the late nineteenth century invented the drink when they ran out of gin. Living in the land of rum, they reached for a bottle of the lighter variety, combined it with lime, sugar and ice, shook it up… and the rest is history.

Still, it’s hard to imagine the sublime simplicity of this tartly refreshing trio of ingredients hadn’t occurred to anyone earlier.

Done right, the Daiquiri is cocktail perfection. With organic ingredients, even better.

Luckily, making Daquiri cocktails is criminally simple, though you may need to play around with exact amounts of each ingredient to suit your own taste. 

Here’s how I like mine: 

  • 2 ounces white rum (I prefer Utkins Fair Trade White Rum or Crusoe Silver Organic Rum)
  • 1 ounce of fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, dissolved). 

Combine ingredients in shaker. Add a generous amount of ice cubes and shake vigorously. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Some folks like to garnish with a thin wedge or wheel of lime. I don’t think this brings much if anything to the drink. 

The Bacardi Cocktail (aka, Santiago or Pink Daiquiri) is a nifty take on the classic Daiquiri that swaps simple syrup for grenadine (equal parts pomegranate juice and sugar, dissolved), which adds some tangy depth and gives the drink a lovely pink hue. 

Another fine riff on the classic Daiquiri comes from rum-loving writer Hemingway. As with most cocktails, this one’s origins are as hazy as the memories of most of its fans. Among the more accepted origin stories credits the bartender at El Floradita bar in Havana where Hemingway was a regular. Apparently Hemingway wasn’t too crazy about sugar in his drinks, so he asked for a Daiquiri tweaked so that the amount of rum was doubled, simple syrup was replaced with maraschino liqueur and a splash of grapefruit juice was added. Whatever the truth, the result – aptly known as the Papa Doble – is one refreshing tipple. Something about the bitter-sweet cherry and citrus notes of the maraschino liqueur and grapefruit give this drink a neat combination of brightness and depth.

Some versions have this as a blender drink, but I think it’s easier – and tastier – served shaken and up (that is, without ice, in a cocktail glass).

Here’s a version of the Papa Doble I like: 

  • 2 1/2 ounces white rum1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur (Luxardo makes a great one) 

Combine everything in a shaker and add plenty of ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. To make sweeter, I think it works better to add a little simple syrup than maraschino liqueur.