If you start looking for a Daiquiri origin story you’ll quickly find yourself in Cuba – though where you go from there is a matter of debate. One popular story attributes its creation to a Mr. Jennings Cox, an engineer by trade, who finds himself washed up in Havana after the Spanish-American War. In this version of events, Cox invents the drink on the fly when the punch bowl runs dry at a party he’s hosting. It’s a nice story but a little far-fetched, as it claims it took an American to teach a country with abundant rum, limes, and sugar cane how to throw a cocktail party.
Another theory places the Daiquiri’s invention way back in 1762 and invokes the famous pirate and moustache enthusiast Sir Francis Drake. This version cites an incident in which he plied his crew with a mix of lime juice, sugar, and rum to get them back in the plundering mood after some difficult months at sea. Which, if true, suggests Drake also originated the Mojito, the Planter’s Punch, and many other drinks besides, meaning the old boy could’ve added ‘mixologist’ to a CV that already featured ‘sea captain’ and ‘participant in the Rathlin Island Massacre’. But again, this seems to be giving him credit for something that already existed.
It’s far more likely that the perfect thrupple of rum, lime, and sugar simply had to find each other; that the arrival of cane and distilling in the Caribbean led to the inevitability of the Daiquiri, rather than its innovation. As the head boy of cocktail history, David Wondrich, says on the matter ‘it would take an idiot not to invent it.’
60ml White Rum
25ml Lime Juice
20ml Simple syrup
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a frozen cocktail glass. Traditionally, the rum should be a light Cuban distillate like Eminente Claro. It’s absolutely perfect for the job and makes a cocktail with little hints of white chocolate and freshly cut grass.
Breaking with tradition you might consider using Veritas, a blend of fruity column still rum from Foursquare in Barbados and funky pot still from Hampden in Jamaica. The Veritas Daiquiri is a little deeper and more serious, with pineapple and anise on the palate. It’s also well worth trying a version made with French accented rum Agricole. Trois Rivières brings a herbal character to proceedings, along with some white pepper and light salinity.
Another popular way to remix the original is with a formula favoured by Ernest Hemingway during his Havana years. The great American novelist didn’t just want you to know he drank a lot, he wanted you to know he was really good at drinking. So strong and finicky cocktails like this suited him perfectly. The spec given here is for a king-sized portion – the famous ‘Papa Doble’ – which Hemingway would take down alone but will certainly serve two.
The Papa Doble
100ml White Rum
30ml Lime juice
30ml Grapefruit juice
25ml Maraschino Liqueur
The original recipe didn’t include any sugar as Hemingway was avoiding it on medical advice by this point in his life (nobody tell him there’s sugar in fruit juice and Maraschino…). However, you might want to add 10ml or so of simple syrup to round things out. Shake all ingredients with ice until absolutely freezing, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and drink while thinking about all the things fishing can be a metaphor for.