Every time I have a Daiquiri, made properly, it startles me how three simple ingredients combine to offer the perfect, slightly sour, summertime (or anytime) drink. Just don’t offer me a prefabbed drink from an alcohol-infused slushie machine that’s cloyingly sweet. It’s a simple drink, really. Three ingredients. Lime juice, sugar, rum. Done. If you’re too lazy to make that, then you deserve the prefabbed version.

The Daiquiri hails from Cuba, of course, home to limes, sugar, and rum. Coincidence? The drink was invented by an American that ran out of gin while hosting a party in Cuba. Poor planner? Perfected by Constantino Ribalaigua Vert at El Floridita in the 1930s. Master craftsman? Ruined shortly after by a diabetic, alcoholic writer named Ernest. America’s greatest writer?

There are other versions of who invented the drink and who popularized it, but much like the Star Wars prequels, we’ll ignore them.

For more details on our origin story we turn now to the year 1898, the year of the Spanish-American War. Jennings Cox is an American engineer supervising the mining of iron-ore in the Sierra Maestra Mountains along the south-east shores of Cuba. Daiquiri is a small town on the coast and host to one of the mines. Drink lore has it that Cox concocted the sweet and sour rum creation and named it after the neighboring port town. How he came to blend the ingredients is a tale of varied renditions. Was he shapeshifting the good ole grog into something lounge worthy? We may never know. I cast my vote with the closest of kin’s story: Cox’s granddaughter. Her account? Cox runs out of gin while hosting American guests (rule #1 of any serious barperson, check your stock before your guests arrive). Rather than serve them rum straight up, he throws in lime juice and a dash of sugar. The drink wins rave reviews and news of it travels to the US shores via one of Cox’s compatriots, Rear Admiral Lucius Johnson who, in 1909, shares the recipe with the Army and Navy Club in DC.

The drink undergoes an icy transformation in the 1930s when Constantino Ribalaigua Vert, head bartender of Cuba’s El Floridita throws the ingredients into a blender. This seemingly innocuous flip of a switch gives rise to today’s slushie beach bar spring break favorite – the Frozen Daiquiri, which comes in flavors and colors of questionable origin. My advice, beware. Constantino was a master. The electric blue flavored frozen daiquiri that pours like syrup out of a machine was made by The Matrix. The Matrix is not a master.

We’ll save the drama between Constantino and Hemmingway for another post. Or you can listen to a wonderful tale of these two men and the cocktail that bears the writer’s name on Back Bar: The Old Men and the Sea. Highly recommended.

Now, let’s simplify. The classic Daiquiri consist of three ingredients. Lime, rum, sugar. I like to make mine like this..

Daiquiri

  1. 2 oz white or aged rum
  2. 1 oz fresh lime juice
  3. 3/4 oz simple syrup (1:1)
  • Add all ingredients to a shaker
  • Add ice
  • Shake vigorously 10-12 seconds if using home ice
  • Strain into a coup or cocktail glass
  • Garnish lime wedge or wheel

The taste is decidedly a balanced blend of sweet and sour, leaning slightly sour.

So simple, you think you can’t screw it up. But don’t be fooled. The most difficult drinks to mix are often the ones that look the easiest to make.

Also, if you’re out at sea…it’s good for the scurvy!

Enjoy.