The Art of the Daiquiri

July 19, 2017

Today is National Daiquiri Day, so in honor of this drinking holiday, we thought we’d revisit the drink and its origin with you. Whether you prefer yours hand-shaken or if you like them frozen (or even somewhere in between), we’ve got you covered.

The daiquiri is a sour cocktail, a category of cocktails we’ve discussed in depth here. In the truest form, it is rum, lime juice, and sugar. But it is its simplicity that can trip people up; too sweet or sour and it’s game over. It is a true measure for bartenders across the world to use as a litmus test. Here are a few recipes and variations to help you create delicious daiquiris for you and your guests.


Born in Cuba, the first daiquiri came in the form of a punch created by American Jennings Cox in 1896. There are many tales around the events surrounding its invention, but everyone seems to agree that Cox was entertaining guests and concocted this drink using Bacardi Rum. The recipe was a hit and a classic was born. You can find the original recipe card in the digital library of the University of Miami.

Original Handwritten Daiquiri Recipe / Photo Courtesy of the University of Miami

Jennings Cox Daiquiri Recipe

(For six persons)
– The juice of six lemons (believed to be limes, since Cuba did not have lemons)
– Six teaspoons of sugar
– Six cups of Bacardi Carta Blanca
– Two small cups of mineral water
– Plenty of crushed ice

Put all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker- and shake well. Do not strain because the glass may be served with some ice.


The daiquiri cocktail finally made it to the United States in 1909 thanks to Naval Officer Admiral Lucius W. Johnson, who introduced it at the Washington D.C. Army and Navy Club. Once word of this “new” cocktail hit the bar scene, bartenders began mixing up their own variations in the U.S. and Cuba. It evolved from a punch cocktail into a single serving drink, giving birth to what many cocktail historians refer to as the “Hand-Shaken Daiquiri”.

Hand Shaken Daiquiri

Hand-Shaken Daiquiri Recipe

– 2 oz white rum
– 1 ½ oz lime juice
– ½ oz simple syrup

Pour contents into shaker with ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass.


The popularity of the daiquiri achieved new heights when F. Scott Fitzgerald mentioned it in “This Side of Paradise” in 1920. But it was literary giant Ernest Hemingway who loved the drink so much that he had his own version of it. It was called the ‘Papa Doble’ and was created for him at the La Floridita Bar in Havana, Cuba. The sugar was removed and replaced with grapefruit juice and a small amount of Maraschino liqueur. Hemingway loved this cocktail so much that he once boasted he drank 16 of them in one sitting.

Ernest Hemingway sitting with friends (including Spencer Tracy) at the bar at La Florida (“Floridita”), Havana, Cuba / Ernest Hemingway Collection. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

Hemingway Daiquiri Recipe

– 2 oz white Cuban rum
– 1 oz fresh lime juice
– ½ oz fresh grapefruit juice
– ¼ oz Maraschino liqueur
– 2 cups shaved ice

Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend until it has a snow consistency. Pour into cocktail glass.


1. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the core ingredients. Some people prefer to use simple syrup; others like to dissolve the sugar in the lime juice.

2. The ice in the shaker is there for dilution. Use small cubes or cracked ice instead of big cubes. Make sure to shake it like it owes you money for 20-30 seconds for maximum effect.

3. Whenever possible use fresh lime and grapefruit juice.

4. Speaking of limes, Key, Mexican, and Persian limes each have their own distinct flavor. Experiment to find out which you like best.

5. The first daiquiri recipe used “Spanish Style” light rum. You are not limited to this style of rum, but this cocktail should be made with immature (minimally aged) rum. Once you use rum with any maturation above three years, it is no longer a daiquiri.

Jennings Cox’s creation has inspired a vast number of recipes and variations over the years, motivating bartenders to put their own twist on this classic. It is a fun experience to sample the original recipe and then explore the evolution of this cocktail over time. This light, refreshing cocktail is a summer favorite, but you may discover, like many others, that it will be a year-round favorite.

Ready to start create your own Daiquiri recipe?

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