The Indispensables: Hemingway Daiquiri

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Papa do preach—about the glories of the Daiquiri. (Illustration: George McCalman)

Introducing The Indispensables:’s series devoted to the classic cocktails drinkers of every skill need in their arsenal. Each installment features one signature recipe, assembled from intel by the best bartenders. The Indispensables may not save the world, but they’ll sure rescue your cocktail hour.

Ernest Hemingway is inspiration, not author, of the cocktail that bears his name.

It’s an important distinction, and takes some of the pressure off of the much disputed origin story of the most popular Daiquiri riff.

Hemingway preferred his Daiquiris with half the sugar—and double the booze.

Whether Hemingway actually drank 16 double daiquiris at Cuba’s La Floridita bar in one sitting is rather beside the point. His request for a Daiquiri made with half the sugar and double the booze created an unbalanced drink: one that bartenders couldn’t help but right through the eventual addition of maraschino liqueur and a little bit of grapefruit juice.

These delicious evolutions are several degrees away from any cocktail the author would have ordered in Cuba. To reinstate some of Hemingway’s proprietary influence, this recipe takes two subtle sidesteps.

Fresh key lime juice adds much-needed pucker to a slushy-like Daiquiri.

First, this cocktail uses key lime juice. These smaller limes were very likely the fruit used at La Floridita, as key limes were the primary limes grown and made available in the States until the 1930s. In addition, the very first Daiquiris were made with lemons, not limes, so the extra tart pucker of a key lime tips the tang further in the direction of historical accuracy. The reasoning behind reinstating key lime juice in this cocktail is not just a memorializing effort: The vanilla-like aroma and extra jab of acidity add an underpinning of tropical refreshment.

The earliest Daiquiris were served with crushed ice—not a far cry from the blended version.

Second, the whole shebang goes for a whir in the blender. (Silence your gasps!) For years, bartenders have been weaning us off the blended Daiquiri of the spring break set, training us to instead employ dainty jadeite coupes. In reality, the earliest Daiquiris were served with crushed ice, including, most likely, those consumed by Hemingway.  A departure from the blender drink was necessary to our cocktail schooling. But it’s now time to re-embrace the frosty brilliance of a Daiquiri slushy.

Kaitlyn Goalen is a writer, editor and cook based in Brooklyn and Raleigh, N.C. She is the editor and co-founder of Short Stack Editions, a series of single-subject, digest-size cookbooks, and has contributed to a variety of national publications.

From our Friends



  • molly3wheeler posted 2 years ago

    This is currently my favorite cocktail. I was at a restaurant this weekend that had an Aviator on their drink menu. I was excited to try this (I had not made one yet since I did not have one ingedientsl. I figured since they had Maraschino liquor they would have the rest of the ingredients . After my Aviator I requested a Hemingway Daiquiri. It took FOREVER to come (they must have had to Google it). It was horrible. I blame myself for expecting too much.

  • MikeLM posted 3 years ago

    When I was on active duty in the Navy in the mid-1950's, Pre-Castro Havana was a very popular liberty port- The best tourist bar wasthe / you could get into more trouble for less money there than in any other Atlantic port I can remember. The American Mob operated the gambling joints which usually had good restaurnts as inducements to come in and try your luck; the girls were attractive and acommodating if you were so inclined, and the drinks were potent. The most sophisiticated bar was the front room of the classiest whiorehouse inj town, which was on on he floors above of the leading Mercedes dealer in the city,
    Hemingway held coujrt nearly every afternoon at thr left end of thr Bar in th 'Floridita restaurabt, dispensing works of wisdomnbartitws==noon

  • joffeloff posted 3 years ago

    Yes, very sure. Hemingway only drank blended daiquiris.

    Here is a quote:

    "The “double frozen daiquiri with no sugar” pretty much steals the show in the second book of the novel Islands in the Stream, titled Cuba, which recounts a marathon drinking session at the Floridita by the protagonist, painter Thomas Hudson."

    "But on this night Thomas Hudson had been ashore about four days when he got really drunk. It had started at noon at the Floridita and he had drunk first with Cuban politicians that had dropped in, nervous for a quick one; with sugar planters and rice planters; with Cuban government functionaries, drinking through their lunch hour; with second and third secretaries of Embassy, shepherding someone to the Floridita; with the inescapable FBI men, pleasant and all trying to look so average, clean-cut-young-American that they stood out as clearly as though they had work a bureau shoulder patch on their white linen or seersucker suits. He had drunk double frozen daiquiris, the great ones that Constante made, that had no taste of alcohol and felt, as you drank them, the way downhill glacier skiing feels running through powder snow and, after the sixth and eighth, felt like downhill glacier skiing feels when you are running unroped."

    Here are a couple of pictures of Papa drinking unmistakably blended daiquiris:

    As far as I am concerned, I *like* blended daiquiris. If a dainty hipster with too large glasses thinks this is 'wrong', I frankly do not value his judgment very high vs that of Papa.

  • argol posted 3 years ago

    Ice machines in Cuba in the 1930's; are you sure?

  • eglemama05yahoocom1280722505 posted 3 years ago

    I am starting a weight loss diet, but I love my evening cocktail. What are the best low-cal cocktails?

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