Mixology 101: Daiquiri

The name Daiquirí is also the name of a beach near Santiago, Cuba, and an iron mine in that area. The cocktail was invented about 1905 in a bar named Venus in Santiago, about 23 miles east of the mine, by a group of American mining engineers. Among the engineers present were Jennings Cox, General Manager of the Spanish American Iron Co., J. Francis Linthicum, C. Manning Combs, George W. Pfeiffer, De Berneire Whitaker, C. Merritt Holmes and Proctor O. Persing. Although stories persist that that Cox invented the drink when he ran out of gin while entertaining American guests, the drink evolved naturally due to the prevalence of lime and sugar.

Originally the drink was served in a tall glass packed with cracked ice. A teaspoon of sugar was poured over the ice and the juice of one or two limes was squeezed over the sugar. Two or three ounces of rum completed the mixture. The glass was then frosted by stirring with a long-handled spoon. Later the Daiquiri evolved to be mixed in a shaker with the same ingredients but with shaved ice. After a thorough shaking, it was poured into a chilled flute glass. An article in the March 14, 1937 edition of the Miami Herald as well as private correspondence of J.F. Linthicum confirm the recipe and early history.

Consumption of the drink remained localized until 1909, when Admiral Lucius W. Johnson, a US Navy medical officer, tried Cox’s drink. Johnson subsequently introduced it to the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C., and drinkers of the daiquiri increased over the space of a few decades. The daiquiri was one of the favorite drinks of writer Ernest Hemingway and president John F. Kennedy.

Before we actually go to the recipe and the production of the daiquiri we need to talk about the Rum. The main ingredient of the daiquiri. Rum is a distilled beverage made from sugarcane byproducts such as molasses and sugarcane juice by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak and other casks. The majority of rum production occurs in and around the Caribbean and along the Demerara River in South America, though there are rum producers in places such as Australia, India, Reunion Island, and elsewhere around the world.

Rum is produced in a variety of styles. Light rums are commonly used in mixed drinks, while golden and dark rums are appropriate for use in cooking as well as cocktails. Premium brands of rum are also available that are made to be consumed neat or on the rocks. For the daiquiri the light is preferred since it has a mild flavor. You can go with a dark for a more strong and robust flavor, but under no circumstances use the spiced since the strong spices are not blending well with the lime, the other major ingredient of the daiquiri.

  • 4.5 oz Rum
  • 2 oz lime juice
  • 1 tsp of sugar

The sugar pairs nicely with the Rum and the lime juice, but it does not dissolve in it. So it is better to use a simple syrup. Mix 1 cup of water with one cup of sugar and boil for 5 mins after the bubbling starts. Chill a cocktail glass. In a shaker add the ice and pour the rum the sugar syrup, and lime juice and shake strongly. Since the lime is cloudy and the lime juice is viscous the shaker is a must. So shake and pour in chilled glass.

There are also variations on this drink but not as many as for the martini and Manhatan.

Daiquiri Floridita: with maraschino liqueur, created by Constantino Ribalaigua Vert at El Floridita
Papa Doble: double the proportion of rum, named for Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway Special: leave out the sugar, add a splash of grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur. Sometimes Hemingway Special and Papa Doble’s recipe is mixed together.
The Champ Sampson: Triple the Dark Rum…aka Heavy on the handle. Often Ordered in Colorado and sometimes referred to as a “Landlocked Dax.”

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