The History of the Daiquiri

The daiquiri, a cocktail conjured from rum, lime juice and sugar, originated in Cuba where such ingredients are plentiful, and has been a popular libation in the United States and beyond for over a century.

American mining engineer Jennings Cox first mixed the diaquiri cocktail in 1900 at a bar in Santiago, Cuba. While some may credit Cox with creating the daiquiri, British sailors were consuming the grog’s combination of rum, water, lime juice and sugar as a daily ration in the latter 1700s.

The recipe for the daiquiri arrived from Cuba to United States soil by way of Admiral Lucius Johnson, a US naval medical officer who consequently introduced the tropical beverage at the Army and Navy Club in Washington DC in 1909. Appreciation for the Cuban specialty spread across the country, earning mention in a passage of F.Scott Fitzgerald’s novel This Side of Paradise, published in 1920.

President Roosevelt may be the individual credited for the daiquiri’s surge in popularity in the 1940s. Wartime rationing had made liquor and other products rare commodities. In an effort to open trade relations and travel destinations with the Caribbean region, Roosevelt initiated the Good Neighbour policy, thus rum became readily available. Latin American culture became trendy, and the daiquiri was popularized by such public figures as president John F. Kennedy and author Ernest Hemmingway.

The daiquiri has been recreated into several variations on the original theme. The rum, lime juice and sugar trinity of ingredients for the classic daiquiri is traditionally shaken and then strained into a chilled cocktail glass. Over the decades, the daiquiri has evolved to include fruit, such as strawberries, raspberries and bananas, which are pureed in a blender with the original ingredients. A daiquiri may be enjoyed as a frozen potion with the addition of either ice cubes or frozen chunks of fruit blended with the basic ingredients until smooth. The El Floridita daiquiri is made with maraschino liqueur, the Mulata daiquiri features the combination of rum and coffee liqueur, and the Hemmingway ingredient list calls maraschino liqueur and grapefruit juice in lieu of sugar.

Whether your choice is a smooth frozen refresher on a hot summer evening, or if you are a purist enjoy your daiquiri straight up in its classic form, its popularity continues to beckon from many a bartender’s repertoire and from your favourite bar and grill restaurant’s menu. Cheers!

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