Reclaiming the Daiquiri

Put away that blender my friend and put down the tiny umbrella. The time has come to leave behind sugary pre-bottled drink mixes and sorority girls at cheap college bars. Come with me and we shall reclaim the Daiquiri from spring break and “woo girls,” and restore it to its proper place of respect.

Before all this foolishness about blenders and strawberry banana mixers, the Daiquiri was perhaps one of the drinks that best exemplified what it means to be a boozehound. It’s strong, it’s simple, it’s classic, and it’s delicious. Made with light rum, lime juice, and simple syrup (or just sugar), the Daiquiri was reportedly one of the favored drinks of Ernest Hemingway, macho-man extraordinaire and demigod of boozehound lore. As the story goes, when Hemingway was living in Cuba he would visit La Floridita bar in Havana each day and order double Daiquiris so consistently that he came to be known as “Papa Dobles.”

The recipe for a traditional Daiquiri (for Hemingway’s version simply double the rum) is as follows:

2 oz light rum

2 Tbs lime juice

1 Tbs simple syrup

Pour all three ingredients into a shaker half-filled with ice and shake well. Strain into a glass (usually a double rocks glass, though any short glass will do) filled with crushed ice and garnish with a wedge of lime.  Can also be served “up” in a cocktail glass.

The practice of serving the Daiquiri over crushed ice rather than cubes is likely where the slushy-like Diaquiri came from. It’s easier to just put ice in a blender with the other ingredients than to make actual crushed ice. However, using a blender is going to water down your drink resulting in a Daiquiri with less punch and less flavor. Basically you’re downgrading your Daiquiri from Ernest Hemingway (legendary novelist and boozehound extraordinaire) to that chick in a tube-top (yells “woo” every time she takes a shot).

As I mentioned in a comment a few articles back (The Kangaroo), the great classic mixologist David Embury (author of The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks) is wont to remind us that a cocktail is only as good as its lowest quality ingredient. That goes double for the rum in a Daiquiri because it’s such a large percentage of the drink.

Simple syrup (just water and sugar) is prepared ahead of time and used to sweeten drinks because getting sugar to dissolve in a cold cocktail can be difficult. Homemade simple syrup will last about two months if refrigerated, so even though it’s as simple as the name would suggest, it may be worth your while to get a premade bottle from Stirrings. As a boozehound and a purist though, I cannot condone purchasing any of their other premade mixers, especially their non-alcoholic bitters.

And finally, you will see me repeat ad-nauseam that it is always better to used fresh squeezed citrus juice rather than bottled juice. A Daiquiri can be a delicious, potent, and refined drink, but regardless of the quality of the rum or the skill of the bartender, using bottled lime juice will reduce your Daiquiri to a mere shadow of its potential.

Check back for easy instructions on how to make your own simple syrup.


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