I can’t believe this is week 8 of our summer cocktail series. The only good thing about 8 weeks of summer being gone is that we’ve drank some damn fine cocktails along the way, if I do say so myself. Click on the Cocktails category to catch up with the summer fun!
I am not the first person to write about these drinks. I initially read about La Floridita daiquiris (or El Floridita, depending on the source) in my most favorite cocktail book, Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. There are also dozens upon dozens of blog posts and articles about the daiquiris, including the daiquiri Hemingway used to drink (yes, Hemingway again…). But, oddly, all that nice coverage doesn’t seem to be translating to cocktail menus.
In all the bars I’ve gone to I’ve never noticed a classic daiquiri on the menu. The closest I’ve seen are plain lime daiquiris and their fruity cousins at poolside bars, Trader Vic’s, and frozen drink dispensers on Bourbon St and in Vegas. There’s no doubt that I don’t get out to the high class joints often enough, but it seems that bars favoring classic cocktails tend to be short on rum drinks. More than that, they also tend to run away from blended drinks. (I know from personal experience that most bartenders hate blenders — at one bar I worked at all the bartenders unanimously agreed that the blender was “broken” for years.)
So, up until today, I’d never had the real deal. And guess what? It’s no wonder it’s been made into so many variations. The original daiquiris are wonderful.
Let’s refocus our collective association of the daiquiri away from the interior of Circus Circus and toward the streets of Old Havana (which I’ve never seen in person). All photos taken in 2010. Images courtesy of the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
A few things before we get going. According to my dear cocktail book, in 1939 La Floridita wrote down the recipes for four daiquiris creatively named #1, #2, #3 and #4. All of them were served on ice — not blended. Following the four recipes there was a fifth variation called the “E. Henminway [sic] Special,” a blended version of daiquiri #3. Vintage Spirits just shares the recipe for #4, but I found a recipe for #3 that seems about right (many others used more lime or dropped the maraschino liqueur). So, let’s make #4 and then the E. Henminway Special.
As for the booze, after that talk about how the high class joints don’t serve enough rum, I should mention that I turned to my very high class bartender friend, Kevin (here he is in Esquire), for some rum suggestions. He’s a rum lover. He said that for mixing cocktails, the best bet is Flor de Cana (the 4 year blanco). So, if you’re in the rum market, think about picking that up. Kevin is very trustworthy.
Lastly, the most popular brand of maraschino liqueur available in the US is Luxardo. I waxed on about how I love it in this post. If you haven’t already, here’s another reason to add Luxardo to your bar collection.
These are from Hemingway’s house in 2010. I can imagine a time when the pool was full and there were daiquiris strewn about. Images courtesy of the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
La Floridita Daiquiri, No. 4
Adapted from Vintage Cocktails and Forgotten Spirits
Makes 1 drink
- juice of 1 lime
- simple syrup made from 1 tsp sugar dissolved in 1 tsp water
- 1 ounce maraschino liqueur (this is the original formulation, but I prefer if it’s dropped to 3/4 oz)
- 2 ounces light rum
Pour everything into a shaker or pint glass with ice. Swirl around. You could serve this on ice, but I think it’s better served up. So, pour off the ice into some type of small martini-ish glass. I wish I had some cool, rounded vintage cocktail cups, but we’re working with what we’ve got.
E. Henminway Special (or, a blended No. 3)
Inspired by Cocktail Atlas
Makes 1 drink
- juice of 1 lime
- juice of 1/2 grapefruit (approx 1 oz, if you’re starting with grapefruit juice)
- simple syrup made of 2 tsp sugar dissolved in 2 tsp water
- 3/4 oz. maraschino liqueur
- 2 oz. light rum
- 1 c ice
- lime, grapefruit or cherry to garnish
Put everything in a blender. Blend until ice is totally smooth. If you want it a bit more slushy, add up to 1.5 c ice (after that, the drink gets too dilute). Garnish with a wedge of lime, grapefruit or — if you have it — a homemade maraschino cherry. And if you have some, could you send me your favorite recipe??
In case you’re finding yourself interested in Cuba now, like I was after trolling through the Library of Congress archives, here’s a video showing images from Cuba in 1998 (taken by a tourist, but I haven’t found the original source — I’ve seen versions in French and German) overlaid with music from the Buena Vista Social Club (documented in this movie).
I play this music all the time at home. I love it. A perfect accompaniment to daiquiris!