If you ask people about their favorite rum cocktail, the Daiquiri cocktail will most certainly be one of the top choices. The recipe is as simple as it is delicious. Only three ingredients make this cocktail one of the most famous drinks. The elements of a classic Daiquiri are rum produced in Cuba, sugar, and lime juice. And nowadays, there are plenty of variations of this classic cocktail. Most of them add different types of fruits to it.
The Strawberry Daiquiri, for instance, is highly popular, even though many bartenders are not too fond of it. I have to admit, it is nothing like a classic Daiquiri to me but it’s delicious and a great summer cocktail.
The Birth of the Daiquiri
Although hard to prove, all across the world, people agree that Jennings Stockton Cox is the creator of the Daiquiri Cocktail recipe. Jennings was an engineer from the US, coming to the mines of Daiquiri shortly after the American-Spanish war. The Americans won over the Spanish, and Roosevelt began to exploit the iron mines in Cuba. Jennings Cox was leading one of the initial exploring parties. -The one that took over the mine in the small town of Daiquiri.
At that time, expatriate workers from the US were offered huge salaries alongside monthly rations of tobacco and local Rum. Some of the Bacardi Blanca they received was mixed with sugar cane juice or coffee by the Cuban workers. When Jennings saw this, he began to experiment himself.
The precise story of when and how the first Daiquiri got served is not documented. However, the granddaughter of Jennings Cox claims that Jennings ran out of gin when American guests came to visit him. So he mixed a drink with the ingredients he had available: rum, lime juice, and sugar.
The original recipe is available in handwritten form (see image below), declaring to use the juice of 6 lemons, 6 cups of Bacardi Blanca, six teaspoons of sugar, two small cups of mineral water, and loads of crushed ice”.
After this event, the Daiquiri recipe stayed within Cuba for a while. For one, because the city of Daiquiri fought with the plague. But also because another cocktail was invented in Cuba almost at the same time. And it took America by storm. You might have guessed already I am talking about the famous Cuba Libre.
How it came to America
Ultimately, it took about ten years until the Daiquiri cocktail made it to America, thanks to Captain Lucius W. Johnson. With his ship USS Minnesota, he sailed to Cuba, intending to visit war sites of the American-Cuban war. During the journey, Johnson also visited the small town of Daiquiri.
Jennings Cox was still there, leading the exploitation of the iron mines. When Johnson arrived, he served his creation. Lucius Johnson loved it and brought the recipe to America, specifically to the “Army and Navy club”. That was the first place where the Daiquiri got known in the US. For this reason, some sources claim that Johson invented the drink, and others even suggest that it was an invention by Navy soldiers. The latter, however, is highly unlikely as there was strictly no alcohol allowed on Navy ships.
Johnson himself allegedly also describes his first encounter with the Daiquiri remembering the ratios Jennings Cox used to make the drink. The following statement got published in the Baltimore Sun newspaper:
‘He mixed in each glass a jigger of rum, the juice of half a lime, and a teaspoonful of sugar. He then filled the glass with finely shaved ice and stirred it well. In that hot, humid weather, the ice melted rapidly, and the glass quickly became frosted.’Lucius W. Johnson
In any case, Lucius Johnson did a great job in promoting the Daiquiri cocktail in the US. He also introduced it to the Baltimore University Club, which resulted in a Daiquiri version with bitters added. Until today this is considered a valid variation on the classic Daiquiri cocktail.
Slowly more and more bars picked up the recipe and started to serve the Daiquiri cocktail. Even one of the most prestigious hotels in the world, at that time, had it on their menu in the 1910s – the Astor Hotel in New York City.
The Writers that made the Daiquiri Cocktail famous
Two of the most famous writers of this era made the Daiquiri a worldwide success. The first one is rarely even mentioned when talking about the history of the Daiquiri. His name was F. Scott Fitzgerald. He was the first to mention the Daiquiri in a Novel: in This Side of Paradise, published in 1920.
The second writer makes you instantly think of countless other spirits, cocktails, and bars around the globe: Ernest Hemingway – naturally. He had an enormous impact on the success of the Daiquiri cocktail. He even created his very own variation of the drink, the so-called Papa Doble. Doble stands for double amount of rum, and since Hemingway was diabetic, he replaced the sugar with a mix of grapefruit juice and Maraschino Liqueur. Not a bad riff on a Daiquiri, I would say. The man obviously knew what he was doing.
Hemingway created this riff while sipping drinks in El Floridita, Havana. It was one of his two favorite bars. The other was Bodeguita del Medio. There he even left a note on the wall saying: “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My Daiquiri in El Floridita.” Mr. Hemingway had a passion for drinks, for sure.
- 3 oz White rum
- 1 oz Lime juice
- 0.5 oz Grapefruit juice
- 0.25 oz Maraschino liqueur
- Add all of the ingredients together with some ice into your cocktail shaker and start shaking.
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Daiquiri in Cocktail books
As substantial as the impact of those writers was, the sheer amount of mentions in important cocktail books contributed still more to the success of the Daiquiri cocktail. I collected some of these references in the list below.
- Savoy Cocktail Book: Published in 1930, this is one of the most influential books in terms of cocktails. The Daiquiri recipe in the book is very close to the original recipe from Jennings Cox.
- Cuban Cookery: This book from 1931 reminds of the origin of this cocktail – its birthplace, the original ingredients, and also the political background.
- Gentleman Companion: The first book that introduces a co-creator besides Jennings Cox. It states that a Mr. Harr E. Stout played a key role in the creation process of the Daiquiri.
- Cocktails, their Kicks and Side-Kicks: It mentions the Daiquiri but mainly contains a made-up story about how the cocktail was created. The writers claim soldiers invented it during the American-Spanish war.
- Floridita Cocktails: A book authored by the El Floridita bar. Credited as “The cradle of Daiquiri Cocktail”, El Floridita declares they already made more than 10 million Daiquiris. In their book, they published five different Daiquiri recipes.
- Cocktails: Written by Jean Lupoiu, this book got published in 1938. It presents the Daiquiri as one of the most famous Cuban cocktails, along with the “El Presidente” and “Mary Pickford”.
- Old Waldorf-Astoria Book: A cocktail book distributed by the world-famous hotel. They emphasize the correct use of ice to make this cocktail. They say, should be “served with finely shaved ice”.
The mix of fresh lime juice, white rum, and sugar is a match made in heaven. Invented back in a time when rum was not famous at all, and Cuba was just about to gain a bit of freedom. The Daiquiri is a perfect drink for hot summer days. Of course, it’s best enjoyed in Cuba, but then again, it is delicious anywhere in the world.