While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.
I don’t know where you’re reading this, but in New York City where I’m writing this, it’s hot. More sticky than sultry, the tropical mugginess envelops you when you venture outside, and at the end of a long day you want something that’ll give your insides some contrast. Might I suggest a celebration of National Daiquiri Day?
“A perfect blend of lime, sugar, rum, and ice, the Daiquiri cuts through the humidity, heat, and haze of the tropics with an uncanny precision,” writes Wayne Curtis in And a Bottle of Rum. “It has an invitingly translucent appearance when made well, as cool and lustrous as alabaster.”
Famous Daiquiri enthusiast Ernest Hemingway also rhapsodized about its appearance in Islands in the Stream: “It reminded him of the sea. The frappéed part of the drink was like the wake of a ship and the clear part was the way the water looked when the bow cut it when you were in shallow water over marl bottom. That was almost the exact color.”
Named after a small beach town near the Bacardi distillery in Santiago, Cuba, the original Daiquiri as we know it today emerged in the late 19th century.
The recipe is simple, but it can be difficult to find one of these; Esquire magazine’s food writer John Mariani is so insistent on the classic recipe that he has it printed on the back of his business cards.
If you’re shaking them up yourself, don’t go overboard on the sugar. In Volume 2 of The Gentleman’s Companion, Charles H. Baker, Jr. opined that “a too-sweet Daiquiri is like a lovely lady with too much perfume,” and drinks writer David A. Embury agreed, writing in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks that “this is a cocktail that is difficult to improve upon. It is dry, yet smooth. The reaction time is short. The lime and rum blend perfectly.”
As usual with a classic cocktail, variations abound: if you make a Daiquiri with grenadine instead of the sugar, it becomes a Bacardi cocktail (and you have to use Bacardi brand rum in a Bacardi cocktail, according to a New York appellate court decision from 1936.) Go with pineapple juice and you have a Mary Pickford. Use the Brazilian sugarcane rum cachaça for your Daiquiri and muddle the limes over raw sugar, and you have the famous Caipirinha. And in the French Antilles, use rhum agricole and cane syrup to produce the wonderful Ti’ Punch, of which LeNell Smothers writes that “drinking a few servings of Ti’ Punch will put some hair on your chest and convince you to wax it off all by yourself.”
Fast-forward a few decades to Havana’s venerable El Floridita bar, where barman Constantino Ribalaigua Vert presided and made the house Daiquiri, serving it “frappéed”, or over crushed ice, and with a few drops of Maraschino cherry liqueur. One day Ernest Hemingway wandered in, in search of a bathroom, tasted the house Daiquiri, and said, “That’s good, but I prefer it without sugar and double rum.” This variation was christened the Papa Doble in honor of its originator and its strength, and Hemingway held the house record of sixteen of these doubles in one session. (We don’t recommend that.)
Later, the writer favored another variation that has since been dubbed the Hemingway Daiquiri, which ups the Maraschino liqueur and adds grapefruit juice. Matt “RumDood” Robold describes this as “ridiculously good”:
Any of these can be served up, frappéed with crushed ice, or mixed frozen in a blender, which is what most people think of when they think of Daiquiris. There’s no wrong answer, and a strawberry slush can be just as refreshing as a tart lime bracer.
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