Daiquiri – Recipe from David Embury’s ‘The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks’

1 part Sugar Syrup

2 parts Lime Juice 

8 parts White Label Cuban Rum

Shake vigorously with plenty of finely crushed ice and strain into a chilled cocktail class

This is Cocktail Royalty, and one of David Embury’s ‘Six Basic Cocktails’.

In 2001 I went to Cuba on holiday, arriving with no real love for rum or Cuban drinks, and came back drinking only rum and with this as my favourite rum-based drink, if not my favourite all time drink. It stayed this way for a good 12 years before the martini took first place (now being strongly challenged by the Manhattan).

I vividly remember being at La Floridita and watching bartenders old enough to be my grandparents effortlessly mixing daiquiri after daiquiri with Hemingway’s chair roped off in the corner and carrying them two per hand from one end of the bar to the other without spilling a drop. Bar heaven.

This drink is also the perfect example of an invention that isn’t an invention. It seems ridiculous to me that a drink composed of rum, lime and sugar was ‘invented’ in the late 1800’s, over 100 years after the British navy was sailing around the Caribbean getting a daily ration of lime juice, sugar and rum, but that’s just me.

What we do know is that Jennings Cox, a mining engineer, while hosting drinks for some visiting dignitaries from the US, found himself running out of gin one night near the village of Daiquiri where he was stationed, and mixing rum, lime juice and sugar together over ice in a tall glass had a ‘voila’ moment.

The drink made its way back to the states courtesy of some travelling Admirals and over the next few years spread over the developed world.

I love this drink, it’s a drink which showcases rum, meaning its great for trying one rum against another and for learning about differences between them, with not too many other ingredients to hide behind.

The classic recipe uses a clear or low aged rum (I won’t say unaged as most white rums these days seem to get a few months age in barrels) and is crisp light and refreshing, changing the rum to an aged one adds all sorts of levels of complexity, and then the drink can be modified with a splash of maraschino (a la Floridita in Havana), orange bitters, falernum instead of sugar, or a myriad of other twists and tweaks, numerous of which justify whole new names.

I really love this drink.