July 19 is National Daiquiri Day.
The Daiquiri is a drink that is both revered and plagued by its simplicity. Just three ingredients is all you need: Rum, lime juice, and sugar. It is so simple that over the years this drink has endured more alterations and additions than a fading Hollywood starlet.
The Daiquiri is just so damn simple that it encourages tinkering. Or perhaps the desire to complicate food and drink is simply an American trait.
After all, Americans have fully embraced Italy’s Bolognese sauce with its careful balance of ingredients and long cooking over the simple, quick, and yet sublime cacio e pepe. Americans frequently complicate Mexico’s simple taco – a clever snack consisting of just spiced meat topped with a mix of chopped onion and cilantro atop a tortilla by insisting on the additions of lettuce, cheese, sour cream, and more.
Back to the Daiquiri – The Daiquiri, perhaps more than any other drink, suffered under the drink trends of the 60s and 70s. Expedience was the name of the game. All you need do is to pick up a gallon jug of pre-mixed Daiquiri, Margarita, or Piña Colada, add booze and ice, and switch on the blender. Soon the majestic Daiquiri was widely known as a slush concoction available in a rainbow of colors. For decades (and sadly still in some quarters) the name Daiquiri was permanently fixed with the word strawberry.
Like so many drinks the origins of the Daiquiri are a bit murky as you have no shortage of individuals wishing to take credit. Some accounts give the honors to Jennings Cox, an iron miner, who is said to have made the basic mix of Rum, lime juice, and sugar as a small punch or pitcher and named it for the nearby beach and village, Daiquiri.
Several Cuban barmen have also claimed to be the drink’s inventor while Admiral Lucius W. Johnson, a US naval officer, became smitten with the drink and introduced it to the Army and Navy Club in Washington, DC and the University Club in Baltimore.
Regardless of which legend you prefer, it’s pretty safe to say that Americas first came in contact with the drink after the Spanish-American War when Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders took the island of Cuba. However, the drink never really took off until the days after WWII as Americans were in love with all things tropical.
The simple truth of this simple drink is that on an island that makes Rum in significant amounts while growing sugar and limes is bound to throw them all together at some stage. The Daiquiri and the same concept by any other name is just as sweet and is an invention of nature.
Like a drink or dish that relies on so few ingredients every component better be damn good. The Rum you use, and I insist on a light Rum, must be of the highest quality. Quality Rum is never neutral and the best taste of the sugarcane and impart the sweet, grassy flavors to the drink. My favorite Daiquiri Rum is Caliche (see our feature on Caliche HERE), a Rum made in Puerto Rico at Destileria Serrallés, the same folks who make the tasty Don Q Rums.
Get the BevX recipe for the great Daiquiri HERE.