La Floridita Daiquiri

June 6th, 2008  |  Published in garnishes, liqueur, recipes, rum  |  6 Comments

If you’ve been interested in cocktails for any length of time, you know that there is a symbiotic relationship between the words “Hemingway” and “daiquiri.” Papa has become something of a shameful secret in literary circles; when I was in college studying for a degree in literature, there was nary a seminar available on him. Chaucer, Milton, Blake, Keats, literature of the Caribbean, of the Holocaust, of the South, seminars on Romantic and Victorian poetry, surveys of female writers, but no Hemingway. He (and many others) fell out of favor in light of certain changes in literary criticism that occurred in the middle of the twentieth century. I’ve been in many spirited disagreements over the years, as the predominant perception of Hemingway’s writing is that it is too “male,” too macho, too brash and unemotional. In short, despite his importance to the canon of American literature in the twentieth century, Hemingway as a writer is by and large forgotten or marginalized as the literary icon of the Hugh Hefner Playboy set.

All of which has nothing to do with this cocktail, but these are the things that I think about when considering Hemingway’s close ties to the daiquiri, a drink that not only contributed to his larger-than-life persona but to his lonely and unhappy death. Named for the bar in Havana where it was served, the daiquiri at La Floridita was Hemingway’s favorite drink—except of course for the mojitos from La Bodeguita. The common and popular face of the daiquiri is a brightly-hued, tropical frozen concoction mostly imbibed by drunken revelers on booze-soaked vacations—a reality which sadly parallels the drinking that so dissipated Hemingway’s life. For the rest of us who don’t drink solely for recreation in strange and foreign locations, a true daiquiri is a fine cocktail, another in the long line of drinks that have slowly evolved into something they distinctly were not in their inception.

Though many drinks have been successfully revived during the present cocktail renaissance—the Manhattan, Sazerac and Aviation come to mind—the daiquiri is still something of a sleeper hit. It appears to be the next big thing so far as concerted salvation goes, so here’s my contribution to the groundswell: the La Floridita Daiquiri, as reported in the now out of print Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by the inimitable Ted Haigh.

2 oz Cuban light rum*
juice of half a lime
1 tsp maraschino liqueur
1 tsp sugar or simple syrup

Blend just until mixed with three-to-four cubes worth of crushed ice. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

*For those of us who don’t have or have access to procure contraband Havana Club, Puerto Rican or Dominican light rum (like Brugal) is an acceptable substitute.

There is one very important thing to remember when making a daiquiri: it doesn’t have to be frozen. I happened to do this batch frozen because it photographed better, but this drink is exceptional when shaken until very cold and served straight up. Though the blended version is perfectly fine (drink fast or it dilutes quickly), the sharpness of the rum doesn’t shine unless you cut back on the ice.

This is also a little sneak peek of an upcoming post. I’ve gone a little garnish crazy lately, cranking out batches of various nibbles and liquids for the bar. Here you see a preview of a fresh batch of brandied cherries which I will be discussing formally in the near future.

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  1. Paul says:

    June 6th, 2008at 2:59 pm(#)

    Hurray for my most favorite of the daiquiri family! Except when I’m in the mood for one of the others….

    And thanks for the Hemingway defense — I, too, brushed him aside years ago, when as a lit-lovin’ college student I was more enamored with the stylistic dazzle of Calvino, Nabokov, Dos Passos and the whole Beat thing. Years later I came back to him (right about the time my cocktail fetish was developing, by the way), and was able to understand and appreciate his work much better. And that “unemotional” tag? Jesus, try reading the last pages of “A Farewell to Arms” or “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and not feel like your guts are being ripped out–sheesh!

    I’m also of the opinion that anybody who repeatedly spells Hemingway as “Hemmingway” probably never made it through “The Sun Also Rises” and has no business writing about the man’s drinking habits, but I’m too much of a gentleman to get pushy with it.

  2. noble pig says:

    June 7th, 2008at 6:52 am(#)

    This looks refreshing and very summer-like. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Scott says:

    June 7th, 2008at 4:52 pm(#)

    You’re a lit major too!? What did you focus on? I got my B.A. in American Literature before moving on to other, more liquid pursuits..

  4. The Food Monster says:

    June 7th, 2008at 11:41 pm(#)

    I love fruity drinks, so when I make Daquris, I like to use an infused rum with some sort of fruit. Here is a recipe for Strawberry, Lime and Raspberry infused Rum Daquris.

    Great job on the photo, I saw it on and keep up the good blog.

    -The Food Monster

  5. Marleigh says:

    June 9th, 2008at 7:08 am(#)


    The first Hemingway I read voluntarily was “A Farewell to Arms” and I was completely surprised. Everyone had led me to believe he was just some crazy drunk guy who went to bullfights and hated women, but I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard reading a book as I did at the end of “Farewell.”

    And yes, I am immediately suspect of anyone who claims to have an authoritative opinion about something they can’t spell. Something about it doesn’t quite jell.


    We didn’t have but two focuses—Lit and Creative Writing. I majored in literature, but my studies were mostly comparative lit (20th century with no particular national focus) with some theory thrown in for good measure.

  6. 10 Cane daiquiri cocktail recipe | Sydney Bar Zine says:

    September 14th, 2009at 6:06 am(#)

    [...] There are different ways in which you can make a daiquiri. Some garnish with a maraschino cherry and others like it frozen, which is how Hemingway had his – and talking of the diabetic big guy, Hemingway also liked his daiquiris without sugar and with maraschino liqueur and grapefruit juice added as well (this is called the La Floridita daiquiri in honour of the bar that served it to the great white hunter – a more detailed recipe can be found at Sloshed). [...]

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