Has anyone else had “Havana” by Camila Cabello stuck in their heads since it came out? Nope? Just me then. Its an appropriate place to start however, as today we’ll be looking at the ‘daiquiri’, a classic Cuban drink with a fantastically rich history. I dedicate this one to my history-graduate husband, who keeps drinking all the rum.
In this ‘historical cocktails‘ series, I’ll be picking a classic cocktail every week, creating it, then discussing the history of it. If you don’t like history, then you can skip straight to the recipe.
What I LOVE about the daiquiri (and no, I’m not talking about those brightly coloured slushie things you get on holiday), is that it resides alongside my other favourite, the martini [link soon], as a cocktail so simple the excessive ingredients don’t kill the natural flavour of your base alcohol, but instead compliment them beautifully.
As a name of the cocktail, it was first recorded some time between 1915-20. Supposedly named after a local beach in the town Daiquirí on the East Coast of Cuba.
There are conflicting stories about the origins of the daiquiri. Whilst as a mixed drink it existed long before the late 19th century (British sailors based in the Caribbean mixing their rum with sugar and lime, anyone?), the most likely theory states its inventor was a mining engineer, Jennings Cox living in Cuba outside the Santiago de Cuba iron mines in 1898. One night, whilst entertaining guests he ran out of gin and so had to use local rum instead – Barcardi Carta Blanca. To encourage may American workers to move to Cuba, they were given amongst other things generous rum rations. So rum quickly become a much loved staple in the kitchen. Cox, by mixing his rum with sugar, lime juice and water, created the daiquiri. With his guests it became a huge hit and so rather than give it the predictable ‘rum sour’ name, he named it after the local beach.
Cox’s Daiquiri was then ‘exported’ to the USA by Rear Admiral Lucius W. Johnson, who tried it on a visit and enjoyed it so much he brought it to the Army and Navy Club in Washington DC where it found its its way into the sub-currents of cocktail culture in the USA.
Growth in Popularity
The drink took the limelight in the 1930s when writers such as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald began to advocate for it. Hemingway himself was a huge fan of the daiquiri. Being diabetic, he made some variations on the recipe and created his own infamous version (the Papa Doble) which swaps the sugar for maraschino liqueur, adds an extra shot of rum and tops with grapefruit juice. This recipe has been recorded in the La Florita bar, Hemingway’s favourite watering hole, since 1947.
In the 1940s, the daiquiri exploded further into popularity as a frozen drink, made with crushed ice and a variation of fruit juices. This latter daiquiri emerged as a much sweeter tiki drink, a thousand miles away from the simplicity of the original daiquiri.
Jennings Cox's Daiquiri
Made as a punch bowl
- 6 Lemons juiced
- 6 tsp Sugar
- 6 cups Barcardi - Carta Blanca
- 2 Cups Mineral Water
- Plenty Crushed Ice
Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker - and shake well - do not strain as the glass may be prepared with (something) ice.
A 'Classic' Daiquiri
Nothing changed, just a simple recipe.
- 2 oz Barcardi - Carta Blanca
- 1 oz Lime Juice
- 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Combine all ingredients with ice in a shaker, shake, then strain into a cooled cocktail glass.