Mixology 101: Daiquiri

Updated: 27 Aug 2012

Cocktail of the tropics. By Wong Boon Ken

Tropic thunder
Named after a beach in Cuba and with ingredients (rum, lime and sugar) commonly found in the Caribbean, Daiquiri is the mixologist’s answer to a tropical paradise. To many, Daiquiri, in its purest incarnation, provides the perfect way to enjoy rum. The citric sourness of the lime and the sharp sweetness of rum are balanced by the mellowing effects of the sugar, resulting in a refreshing combination that puts the overly sweet imitations often served at beach resorts to shame.

Hemingway’s drink of choice
John F Kennedy and Ernest Hemingway were avid Daiquiri lovers, with the American author allegedly downing 16 Daiquiris in one sitting at El Floridita that he frequented all too regularly. The literary icon’s diabetic woes led to the advent of the Hemingway Daiquiri, which is essentially a less sugary version of the cocktail. Constantino Ribalaigua, who was Hemingway’s trusted bartender at El Floridita, added Maraschino liqueur for a nutty quality and balanced the lime with grapefruit juice for less tang. If you’re ever feeling extra Hemingway-esque, try a Papa Doble, which is a Hemingway Daiquiri but with double the rum.

In the limelight
From its initial run as a sailor’s drink of choice to its current form as a mainstream cocktail, Daiquiri’s history can be traced back to early 1800s Cuba. The legend goes that Jennings Cox, who was an American mining engineer residing in Daiquiri Beach, either copied the local rum cocktail or created a mixture based on the available ingredients on the island. He then introduced the drink to an American Navy admiral, who subsequently recommended Daiquiri to his associates in Washington DC Daiquiri soon became a popular drink among politicians before finally hitting the big time at the famed El Floridita bar in Havana in the 1940s.

Pour some sugar on me
A classic Daiquiri comprises two ounces of light rum, an ounce of freshly-squeezed lime juice and half an ounce of sugar syrup. Squeeze the lime into a shaker, stir in the sugar and then add the rum. Subsequently, shake the contents well with cracked ice and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. A blended Daiquiri, which is achieved by blending the ingredients with ice before serving the drink tall and slushy, is also a popular way of enjoying the cocktail. Strawberries, mango and passion fruit are also often added to the blend, but lime, being an integral part of a Daiquiri, should be present as well. Though some may argue that any form of rum is ideal for a Daiquiri, we believe clear is best. However, should you persist with dark, do hold off a little on the sugar. Lastly, if you want to jazz things up a notch with some South American flair, replace rum with cachaca (distilled sugar cane liquor) for a distinct Brazilian Caipirinha.

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