How to Make the Ultimate Daiquiri

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June is Rum. Right Now. month at Liquor.com.

From pint-sized “Snaquiris” to the #DTO (that’s a Daiquiri Time Out), the Daiquiri is feeling itself right now.

So what’s the best way to make one these days? That’s a question that Jason Kosmas pondered before commissioning Caña Brava rum, one of the brands from 86 Company, which he co-founded with Dushan Zaric (both are also co-founders of NYC speakeasy Employees Only) and Simon Ford.

If you haven’t tried the rum before, it’s a light, nearly neutral rum. It has a faint golden tint and just enough marshmallow, ginger and lime zest notes on the clean, brisk finish to keep things interesting. In other words, it’s an ideal rum for Daiquiris—and that’s no accident.

“We asked bartenders if they could create a premium well rum, what would they look for?” Kosmas recalls. Most pointed to what’s called “carta blanca”—a Cuban-style white rum—that mixes well in drinks like Mojitos and of course, Daiquiris.

Next was a visit to London’s Savoy Hotel, which keeps a library of old and rare liquor bottlings. There, Kosmas gauged what a Daiquiri—and the rum used to make it—would have tasted like around the turn of the last century. According to some accounts, the Daiquiri was created by Jennings Cox, an American mining engineer who was in Cuba at the time of the Spanish–American War (1898); another origin story places the drink’s creation a couple years later, but still ties it back to Cuba.

Clearly, Cuban-style rum was the correct answer. And the best man to make that rum, Kosmas decided, was Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez. One of the famed Maestros Roneros (“rum masters”) who worked with Havana Club in Cuba, Fernandez moved to Panama in the 1990s, where he still resides and makes rum today. (He’s also produced his own line of luscious Origenes Reserva aged rums, which are well-worth seeking out).

Don Pancho provided valuable guidance. “For a long time, spirits producers have been trying to turn rum into the next vodka,” Kosmas notes. “Don Pancho, he’s like, ‘Rum is rum. Forget about vodka. Let it be rum, and let it be cherished and enjoyed for what it is.’” After selecting barrels and blending the three-year-old rum, it was time to run the product past the bartenders one more time.

“The feedback we got is that it was beautiful out of the bottle, but it didn’t pop in a Daiquiri. So we raised the proof [from 80-percent ABV] to 86-percent,” a move calculated to add not just alcohol but flavor.

So how about that Daiquiri? Although Kosmas now resides in Austin, Texas, he spent time behind the stick at Employees Only and perfected his recipe. In short, he insists that the alchemy of the Daiquiri lies in not messing with it too much: two parts rum to lime juice, with just enough sugar “to take the edge off.”

“To me, the magic of the Daiquiri is like a Caprese salad:  tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil. There’s a magic in that trinity. No chef can come along and make it better,” he says. “A Daiquiri is like that: The flavors expressed from those three ingredients is amazing.”


The Ultimate Daiquiri

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 oz White rum (Kosmas prefers Caña Brava)
  • 1 oz Fresh lime juice
  • .5 oz Rich simple syrup (2 parts Demerara sugar to 1 part water)

Glass: Coupe
Garnish: Thinly-sliced lime wheel (optional)

PREPARATION:
In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients with large ice cubes. Shake vigorously and strain into a coupe glass.

Kosmas prefers to skip the garnish, but if it looks too austere, float a thinly sliced lime wheel on top of the drink.

Kara Newman is a New York–based spirits and cocktail writer, and author of Cocktails for a Crowd (Chronicle Books).  

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  5 Comments.

Discussion

  • alxxngh.6201 posted 12 months ago

    I recently ordered a daiquiri at a well known steakhouse that had a bar. My wife ordered a strawberry & I ordered mine plain. The waitress suggested "lime", so inasmuch as that sounded reasonable, I agreed. We were brought frozen daiquiris, which neither of us wanted. When I mentioned to the waitress, that we wanted them "on the rocks," she couldn't imagine such a thing. It would be too sweet, she warned us. Apparently, they've never made one that wasn't frozen or blended. We reordered an Amaretto sour for my wife & I had a Manhattan on the rocks. The sour tasted as if it were Amaretto free & mind tasted like it had soap in it. This was in a foreign country. The vegetables were somewhat better (edible) but the steaks were very good.

  • dildozer73gmailcom148988855 posted 12 months ago

    Tiger you're lucky. I live thousands of miles from the nearest fresh lime :(

  • LiquorHunt posted 2 years ago

    I've never been a daiquiri kind of guy but this sounds a little refreshing.

  • cre8ov.f769 posted 2 years ago

    Using agave syrup in place of the sugar syrup really plays well with the tequila which of course is made from agave.

  • tigerleahusbcglobalnet25708475 posted 2 years ago

    The main problem of balancing flavors for me, has never been the rum. I grew up in Frederiksted and Cruzan Rum has never let me down. The problem is the lime. Now we always had a Key Lime tree in our yard and never had to resort to purchasing those big green ones you see in the produce section. We could pick the limes when they became yellow on the tree and still green on the inside. At this point they have zero bitterness and can be eaten raw! To me, Daiquiris just don't taste right using store bought limes.


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