Restoring the Daiquiri’s dignity

I understand the attraction of the frozen cocktail. I really do. Just like I understand the attraction of Big Macs and professional wrestling and “Judge Judy.” There’s an undeniable appeal to a thing that’s so outlandish, so vulgar and unnecessary, that people crave it more and more. I mean, that’s practically Disney’s business model.

By the hotel pool or on the lido deck, nothing shouts decadent excess like a gigantic, frosty fro-co topped with fresh fruit and a paper umbrella. It will certainly help keep you hydrated. And no less an accomplished boozehound than Papa Hemingway sang the praises of blended drinks in Islands in the Stream—and reportedly could down a dozen or more in a single sitting. Which must have made for one hell of an ice cream headache as well as a hangover.

So to all those who view a Frozen Daiquiri (or a Frozen Margarita, or even a Funky Monkey, god help us) as the epitome of slushy deliciousness, I say: Bottoms up. And if you want to go further and embellish your liquor-soaked smoothie with mangoes or Mountain Dew or Reddi-Wip or Gummy Bears, please, by all means, follow your bliss.

But let us never forget: The original Daiquiri was a real cocktail. A dignified cocktail. One that today can be recreated at home without the use of blenders, shaved-ice machines, or gallon jugs of pre-made Day-Glo Daiquiri mix.

CREDIT: University of Miami

Unlike so many other cocktails, whose parentage is mysterious or in dispute, the Daiquiri’s origins are well documented. In 1896, Jennings Cox, an American engineer working in Cuba, combined rum, citrus, and sugar to create a simple tart-yet-sharp-yet-sweet nectar that proved irresistible to his friends. He named it after the beachside town where he worked.

Fifteen years later, a U.S. Navy officer brought the drink stateside, and it spread far and wide before morphing into the gaudy glacial concoction enjoyed today in tropical resorts and karaoke bars the world over.

Cox’s original hand-scribbled recipe card still exists. And his original formulation still works. 

Well … with a few minor changes.

His version used fresh lemon juice; in the Cuisine Stupide kitchen, we prefer lime. And the addition of mineral water serves only to water down the drink (and perhaps prevent Cox’s rum supply from being consumed too quickly by would-be Hemingways). So we leave it out.

Served over ice with a slice of lime as garnish, this old-school Daiquiri is lusciously sippable. Like its snow-cone-derived descendants, it’s a perfect summer drink, but it also brings a citrusy glow to a cold winter night.

Bonus: no ice cream headache.


Adapted from Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich

2 ounces white or silver rum (we like Don Q Cristal)
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Lime slice for garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, with or without additional ice. Garnish with lime slice.

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