Charlotte Voisey, the director of brand advocacy for William Grant & Sons, is famous for saying that if you want to test the abilities of a new cocktail bar, you should always order a Daiquiri.
And rightly so, because while an experienced bartender should make it flawlessly, for a novice there is nothing harder than creating that fine balance with only three ingredients.
And three ingredients is all it takes – White Rum, Lime Juice and Sugar. So simple, so elegant and if not made well, so much that can go wrong.
It’s Not So Glamorous (But Still Quite Fun) Beginnings
But if you’re thinking that this sophisticated cocktail was created in equally sophisticated circumstances, then you couldn’t be more wrong.
It’s not, as many assume, a cocktail created by a world-renowned bartender at an upscale hotel bar in the 1930s. No, this drink was in fact invented at the end of the 19th Century, by an engineer in a mining town in Cuba.
Basil Woon, in his 1928 book When It’s Cocktail Time In Cuba, describes the creation of the cocktail by talking about a group of guys that used to meet at the Venus bar in Santiago at 8am every morning. He says the men would, at that time of the morning, have three or four of the cocktail.
He writes “Most of them worked in the Daiquiri mines, the superintendent of which was a gentleman named Cox—Jennings Cox. One morning in the Venus Cox said: “Boys, we’ve been drinking this delicious little drink for some time, but we’ve never named it. Let’s christen it now!” The boys milled around a bit and finally, Cox said: “I’ll tell you what, lads—we all work at Daiquiri and we all drank this drink first there. Let’s call it a Daïquiri!”
And It Was Made Then As It Is Now
Woon goes on to say that the Daiquari was the best known drink in Cuba and describes how it really should be made.
“This recipe for the real daiquiri was given me by Facundo Bacardi and confirmed by one of the men who was present at the christening: half one lime, squeezed onto one teaspoonful of sugar; pour in one whiskey-glassful of bacardi; plenty of ice; shake until the shaker is thoroughly frosted outside.”
The Daiquiri Travels To The States
It is commonly believed that it wasn’t until the end of the first decade of the 20th Century that the Daiquiri made it’s way out of Cuba. Rear Admiral Lucius W. Johnson, a U.S. Navy medical officer, who tried Cox’s drink, is believed to have introduced it to the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C.
The Daiquari’s Popularity
Over the next few decades, the number of devotes to the Daiquiri increased, with names such as Ernest Hemingway and President John F. Kennedy, counted among their number.
But it wasn’t until the 1940’s that the drink really came into its own. During WWII, rationing made Whiskey, Vodka & Gin, hard to come by, but due to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor policy, Rum was easily obtainable.
Opened up trade and travel relations with Latin America, Cuba and the Caribbean, the Good Neighbor Policy (also known as ‘The Pan-American program’), helped to glamorise everything Latin and make Latin America (and it’s Rum-based cocktails) fashionable state-side.
The Daiquiri was seen as an elegant way to make Caribbean Rum more palatable to American tastes and has remained popular, and a constant classic, ever since.