Happy Daiquiri Day! The humble Daiquiri is a classic rum cocktail and maybe the simplest one to make at home. But there’s much more to it than there might seem…
What is a Daiquiri?
At its core, a Daiquiri is a rum sour – a mix of rum, lime juice and sugar. Traditionally, you want a light, Cuban style rum and a mix of sweet and sour that will amplify its flavour rather than swamp it. The exact proportions are all down to the maker of the cocktail, and bartenders all have their own opinions – last time I put a call out on Twitter for Daiquiri ratios, I ended up with 10 opinions, all impressively different.
As a reliable place to start, we’ve gone for an 8:3:2 ratio of rum:lime:syrup. Don’t be afraid to tweak the recipe to make it sweeter, sourer or punchier, but here’s how we make ours:
Pour ingredients into a shaker, fill with ice and shake. Double strain into a coupe and garnish with a slice of lime.
Where does the Daiquiri come from?
Every classic cocktail has a fanciful origin story and the Daiquiri is no different. The most commonly told is that it was invented at a dinner party in the Cuban town of Daiquirí in 1896. The host, an American expatriate called Jennings Cox, ran out of gin and, not wanting his guests to go dry or be forced to drink rum neat, made them a drink of rum, lime, sugar and water served long over ice.
The original meaning of the word cocktail, as defined in the early 1800s, was “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters”. Other than the missing bitters, this Daiquiri fits the bill and it would be weird if someone in Cuba hadn’t thought of mixing rum (the island’s main spirit) with lime (the island’s main citrus fruit) and sugar (produced on the island in large quantities from the mid-1700s). There was almost certainly some kind of proto-Daiquiri being drunk in Cuba long before Mr Cox’s bad party planning.
However, the modern incarnation is a lot shorter and served without ice, which cocktail expert Tristan Stephenson (preferred Daiquiri ratio 8:1:1), writing in his excellent book The Curious Bartender’s Rum Revolution, reckons is due to the influence of the Martini in the early 1900s. Whatever the reason, it has become a classic.
My preferred recipe
I make two changes to our recipe to create a drink that’s more to my taste: firstly I cut down the amount of sugar and secondly I use a darker rum.
The rum switch was inspired by bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler (preferred Daiquri ratio: 10:3:2), whose cocktail videos and articles have taught me a lot about making drinks. He started with the Difford’s Guide recipe and switched in an aged rum – you can find his thoughts here.
I played with the ratio a bit more and in the end upped the amount of rum. My aged rum of choice is Doorly’s XO, which is both rich and sweet thanks to being finished in sherry casks. My preferred ratio is about 10:3:1 – 60ml rum, 20ml lime, 5ml sugar. It’s a much heftier drink than a classic Daiquiri, and isn’t quite so great for drinking outside a bar in sunny Cuba. However, I live in London and – current heatwave aside – it works well here.