There are few drinks as pitch-perfect as a classic Daiquiri. When mixed properly, the holy trinity of rum, lime and sugar is a master class in balance and refreshment, one that evokes sunshine and carefree afternoons. For nearly a century, bartenders have been tinkering with the recipe, to both brilliant and baffling results. We tracked down a baker’s dozen of the best variations of the Daiquiri served in bars now.
Can't make it to any of the bars serving these great Daiquiri twists? Try making the Winter Daiquiri at home.
Smuggler's Cove is a Tiki haven that feels like you're drinking on a pirate ship, so it's no real surprise that owner Martin Cate has played around with Daiquiris and rum. This one, which uses Wray & Nephew overproof rum, has a much heavier body than the classic. In addition to fresh lime juice, it also incorporates Jamaican jerk spice syrup and Hellfire tincture, a spicy concoction made with scotch bonnets and other peppers to really turn up the heat.
If a Daiquiri and Piña Colada got together, this might be the result. Or at least The Roosevelt Room owners Dennis Gobis and Justin Lavenue thought so when they made it one of the bar's first featured cocktails when it opened back in 2015. While the drink—made with Plantation pineapple rum, lime juice, coconut cream and cinnamon syrup—is not currently on the drink list, just ask for it, and they'll whip one up for you.
Sidestepping lime juice altogether, Legasea beverage director Keith Nelson added sweet, fruity notes via St. George spiced pear liqueur and passion fruit puree. That mixes with Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva rum, demerara syrup and a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters. The drink gets poured over ice in a highball glass and is garnished with a fresh orchid.
Head bartender Alex Schmaling puts a Jamaican accent on the classic Daiquiri by using bigger, funkier Bacardí Heritage and Smith & Cross Jamaican rums. Those combine with Leblon cachaça, banana, Tiki spices, lime juice and fino sherry, which lends a bit of salinity while keeping the drink clean and balanced.
Inspired by an "Avocados from Mexico" ad jingle during Super Bowl XLIX, head bartender Jeff Cleveland thought to tweak a Daiquiri by first fat-washing Novo Fogo silver cachaça with avocado before freezing that combination and then straining the fat from the spirit. He then combines the fat-washed spirit with lime juice and thyme simple syrup, offering an overall earthy and herbal character to the drink, which gets shaken, double-strained and served in a coupe with thyme sprig as a garnish.
Rum-loving assistant general manager Gabe Fonseca simply wanted to create a drink anyone could make at home. This one starts with Plantation Stiggins' Fancy pineapple rum, then adds muddled raspberries, fresh lime, simple syrup and a couple of dashes of peach bitters. It's all shaken over ice and served in a coupe with a fresh orchid and a cherry spear. It's a bit sweeter than the classic, but isn't that what you'd expect from the Mushroom Kingdom princess in "Super Mario Bros."?
With three different Daiquiris on his menu, beverage director Ian Lowther clearly enjoys the cocktail. For this one, he calls out the mineral and earthy qualities (a.k.a. "funky" and "dirty) of some rums, in this case a house blend of Plantation, Smith & Cross, Lemon Hart 151 and Plantation O.F.T.D. rums. Those get shaken with a rich demerara syrup and fresh lime juice, offering a fuller, richer take on the classic.
Initially created by original Rum Club co-owner Kevin Ludwig, the bar's namesake Daiquiri is a nod to a Hemingway Daiquiri with more Tiki in its DNA. The cocktail comprises aged Don Q añejo rum, lime juice, demerara syrup, Maraska maraschino liqueur and Angostura bitters. Six drops of absinthe are then added, which "serves as a great accenting ingredient to rich cinnamon and vanilla flavors in a fine aged rum," says Rum Club bar manager Matt Kesteloot.
Like many things in Texas, this drink has a smoky, barbecue bent. Chalk it up to the poblano grapefruit glaze, which also offers a crisp spiciness that goes well with the Caña Brava rum, lime juice and simple syrup in the drink. But perhaps bartender Colin Silva sums up the cocktail best: “It’s what would happen if a Paloma and a Daiquiri met for ribs over lunch."
At Academia, the new bar by former “Bar Rescue” co-host Russell Davis, the Hotel Nacional is modeled after the way Hemingway's bartender Constantino Ribalaigua made it at El Floridita in Havana, using half-cubed and half-crushed ice when shaking. Davis says the "texture of the mouthfeel adds another undeniable layer to the drink," which also comprises Plantation pineapple rum, Santa Teresa Claro rum, Liber & Co. pineapple gomme syrup, lime juice and The Bitter Truth apricot liqueur.
Trader Vic's has been making Tiki-style cocktails since 1934, so it’s fair to say it knows a thing or two about Daiquiris. For its signature Trader Vic's Daiquiri, which was created by Jonathan Roman, the general manager of the San Francisco Bay Area location, the bar team uses El Dorado 12-year-old rum—providing hints of vanilla and caramel—lime juice and a house-made macadamia nut liqueur that plays nicely with the rum in lieu of simple syrup.
Not one to sit back and let a classic rest on its laurels, beverage director Lee Zaremba takes the Daiquiri up a few notches by starting with three-year-old Flor de Caña white rum and fresh lime, then adding in Colombian aguardiente and kiwi syrup to give it a tart quench. He finishes the drink by shaving black lime over the top for an extra punch of flavor.
At chef Grant Achatz's swank Aviary cocktail lounge in New York, beverage director Micah Melton wanted to include a drink on his menu as a daily reminder of a friend battling a tough illness who loves Daiquiris. This riff, which adds more complexity than the classic, combines Magdalena rum, aquavit, clarified lime juice, fennel syrup and ice made of concord grape and Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto liqueur.