Daiquiris, A Cautionary Tale

“The moment, now, had arrived for a Daiquiri: seated near the cool drip of the fountain, where a slight stir of air seemed to ruffle the fringed mantone of a bronze dancing Andalusian girl, I lingered over the frigid mixture of Ron Bacardi, sugar, and a fresh vivid green lime.

“It was a delicate compound, not so good as I was to discover later at the Telegrafo, but still a revelation, and I was devoutly thankful to be sitting, at that hour in the Inglaterra, with such a drink. It elevated my contentment to an even higher pitch ; and, with a detached amusement, I recalled the fact that farther north prohibition was formally in effect. Unquestionably the cocktail on my table was a dangerous agent, for it held, in its shallow glass bowl slightly encrusted with undissolved sugar, the power of a contemptuous indiffernce to fate ; it set the mind free of responsibility; obliterating both memory and tomorrow, it gave the heart an adventitious feeling of superiority and momentarily vanquished all the celebrated, the eternal, fears.

“Yes, that was the danger of skilfully prepared, intoxicating drinks. . . . The word intoxicating adequately expressed their power, their menace to orderly monotonous resignation. A word, I thought further, debased by moralists from its primary ecstatic content. Intoxication with Ron Bacardi, with May, with passion, was a state threatening to privilege, abhorrent to authority. And, since the dull were so fatally in the majority, they had succeeded in attaching a heavy penalty to whatever lay outside their lymphatic understanding. They had, as well, made the term gay an accusation before their Lord, confounding it with loose, so that now a gay girl certainly the only girl worth a ribbon or the last devotion was one bearing upon her graceful figure, for she was apt to be reprehensibly graceful, the censure of a society open to any charge other than that of gaiety in either of its meanings. A ridiculous, a tragic, conclusion, I told myself indifferently: but then, with a fresh Daiquiri and a sprig of orange blossoms in my buttonhole, it meant less than nothing.”

A short extract from Joseph Hergesheimer’s 1920 book, “San Cristobal de la Habana.”

For me, it is tough to improve on that, other than just giving a recipe for a Daiquiri.

The traditional Daiquiri recipe is as follows:

The Juice of 1/2 lime
1 Teaspoonful of castor or superfine sugar
2 oz Bacardi Rum (Ideally Havana Club Añejo Blanco. However, given the current US embargo of Cuban products, another Cuban-Style Rum like Flor de Cana Extra Dry, Appleton White, or Matusalem Platino, will likely have to do.)

Juice lime into mixing glass. Drop spent lime shell into mixing glass. Measure sugar and rum. Add ice, cap your shaker and shake until the outside of the shaker frosts. Strain into cocktail glass.

According to Wayne Curtis, in his informative and entertaining book, “And A Bottle of Rum,” Ernest Hemingway visited “El Floridita” in Cuba. When he saw Constantino Ribalaigua Vert making Daiquris he asked to taste one. He then said, “That’s good, but I prefer it without sugar and double rum.” This version became known as the “Papa Double.” Later in life, it is said Hemingway became fond of another version with a splash of grapefruit juice and a dash of Maraschino Liqueur. This is sometimes called the “Hemingway Special.”

We’ll try that.

Hemingway Special

2 oz Flor de Cana Extra Dry Rum
Juice 1/2 Lime
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.

A portion of a track from David Torn’s excellent new ECM recording “Prezens” accompanies the cocktail making today.

This ended up a tad on the tart side for me. However, I think it has plenty of Maraschino, so perhaps, if you don’t like tart cocktails, add a half teaspoon of simple syrup or Caster Sugar.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.