A well-made daiquiri is about as refreshing as they come when it comes to iconic classic cocktails. And though daiquiris are enjoyable throughout the year, July 19 has been set aside as National Daiquiri Day to celebrate this glorious drink.
We can thank American Jennings Cox, an engineer by trade, for the creation of this hot-weather Cuban classic. In 1989, Cox was charged with supervising a mining operation in a village named Daiquiri, off the coast of Cuba. After a long, hot day in the mines, Cox and his men would gather at a local bar to unwind. It was here that Cox first mixed rum, lime, and sugar over a tall glass of cracked ice. The refreshing combination became a standard after-work beverage for the miners, who called the drink “Daiquiri” after the Daiquiri mines where they worked.
Ernest Hemingway’s fondness for the Daiquiri famously contributed to the drink’s international popularity. Soon, even JFK was drinking Daiquiris, and legend has it that he toasted his election as President with the frosty favorite.
In theory, the daiquiri is about as simple as it gets. At its core is the straightforward triumvirate or rum, lime, and sugar. Striking the perfect balance, however, is an art form—and mastering this elemental cocktail is the bar by which many mixologists are measured. According to Joaquín Simó, of Manhattan’s renowned Pouring Ribbons, “It’s the omelet of cocktails. If you can’t make an omelet, you don’t know how to cook. Same thing with a Daiquiri.”
Within the simple framework of the daiquiri’s ingredients, there are almost infinite combinations. First, there’s the ratio itself. Then, there’s sugar, which can be raw or incorporated into syrup. And what type of sugar to use? Turbinado, superfine, or demerara? Finally, of course, the rum. You could use an aged rum, a white rum, or an agricole… and get drastically different results.
Daiquiri competitions have become de rigueur in cocktail circles. The folks behind Tales of the Cocktail—a week-long festival held in New Orleans each year, which brings together tens of thousands of members of the international spirits community annually—even host “Daiquiri Season,” a month-long celebration of the esteemed cocktail, which culminates with the crowning of a “Duke and Duchess of Daiquiri.” PUNCH, an online magazine devoted to all things liquid, hosted their own throwdown. NoMad’s Pietro Collina took the top spot with a classic combination of extra dry rum, double strained lime juice, and cane syrup.
Celebrate National Daiquiri Day this year by trying some of your own combinations. If you like a drink that’s on the stronger and less sweet side, perhaps experiment with a Hemingway Daiquiri, which foregoes the sugar. There’s also a frozen Daiquiri—a staple of many poolside bars and vacation watering holes. Or go to the dark side, and add some activated charcoal to your drink for a jet-black twist on the cool classic.
National Daiquiri Day is typically celebrated