Monday, January 26, 2009

The Daiquiri

The Frothy strawberry smoothie that was popularized in the 80's and called a strawberry daiquiri only vaguely resembles the original drink that came from a Cuban minining town by the same name.

Smoothie With Booze Circa 1985

From: Field Guide to Cocktails , by Rob Chirico

The original daiquiri was a mixture of rum, lime, and sugar, served over ice. Yet another product of late-19th-century imperialism, the daiquiri was first recorded in a Cuban mining town of the same name. Although the locals had probably been knocking back rum and lime for years, in 1886 an American engineer, James Cox, and a Cuban engineer named Pagliuchi refined the rum and lime drink by adding cane sugar. When Admiral Lucius Johnson introduced the recipe to the Army Navy Club in DC, in 1909, the daiquiri was becoming one of the world’s most popular drinks. Many years later, John F. Kennedy may have tried his first daiquiri there. We will never know, but quite ironically, JFK, who also had a penchant for Cuban cigars, designated the daiquiri as his drink of choice.

The Real Deal

Constantino Ribalagua, the famed bartender at Havana’s La Floridita—nicknamed La Catedral del Daiquiri—blended the drink with shaved ice, thereby creating the frozen daiquiri. Chief among the frozen daiquiri’s adherents was Ernest Hemingway. Ribalagua specifically created a sugarless Papa Dobles for Papa Hemingway, who apparently could wade through a dozen of these at one sitting. Standing is not an option after a dozen frozen daiquiris.

Bars are continually experimenting with this versatile cocktail. Fruit may be used, and the drink may be mixed with ice in a blender, but it should always be made fresh. This essential cocktail should be in the repertoire of every home bartender.

A classic, shaken daiquiri served while you watch the tall ships come in is a thing of beauty. A machine-produced frozen daiquiri at all-you-can-drink night at the local chain cocktail lounge is a travesty. Odious daiquiris are everywhere, so watch where you step.

Supposedly Ribalagua gently squeezed the lime with his fingers to avoid getting any bitter oil from the peel in the drink. After shaking the icy cocktail, he strained it through a fine sieve.

Following this exact procedure for every drink would have been incredibly time-consuming after Hemingway popularized it, but it does demonstrate that a proper daiquiri is a studied balance in harmony. An excess of lime will make the drink bitter, while too much rum is overpowering. It should also be shaken to the point of frothiness.

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