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Clair McLafferty

What's the Right Way to Make a Daiquiri?

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Clair McLafferty

Don't be nervous. You don't need a blender to make a Daiquiri. The classic Daiquiri is simple, easy to make, and even easier to drink. Named for a Cuban beach, this mixture of lime, sugar, and rum is a pre-Prohibition bar staple.

Daiq It Out

The most widely accepted story behind its invention is that Jennings Cox, an ex-pat American mining engineer living in Cuba, created the Daiquiri in the late 19th century. As the story goes, he was hosting a party to celebrate the American victory at the Battle of San Juan Hill, but ran out of gin while the shindig was still going. He went to the store and bought the cheapest booze they had: rum.

When he got back, he whipped up a quick rum punch. The resulting tipple was so delicious, he thought it deserved a less generic name. To differentiate it, he called it the Daiquiri after the nearby beach. Later, Admiral Lucius Johnson is said to have brought the Daiquiri into the U.S.

But the Daiquiri likely existed for many decades before it was named. During the British navy's heyday, sailors were given daily rations of rum or gin (depending on their location), sugar, and citrus. Several navy officials, including Admiral "Old Grog" Vernon, campaigned for soldiers to mix their rum rations with water, sugar, and citrus to keep them relatively sober and healthy for combat. The Daiquiri's recipe is thought to mimic the proportions of the sailors' draughts, so it's very possible that Cox may have had some inspiration.

After its introduction, the Daiquiri fell out of favor for a while, but reemerged in the 1940s and again in the 1970s and80s. Its most widely known variation, the artificially flavored, super sweet slushie drink, was probably developed in the 1970s to fit drinkers’ progressively sweeter demands.

Hit The Lab

In an article about the Daiquiri, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the author who gave his name to two drinks: the Hemingway Daiquiri (originally recorded as the Henmiway Daiquiri) and the Papa Doble. Though these two names have come to be synonymous for the Hemingway Daiquiri, their original recipes were not. 

The Hemingway Daiquiri is rather delightful, and adds grapefruit and maraschino liqueur to the traditional Daiquiri. The Papa Doble, on the other hand, is an almost unpalatable concoction that doubles the rum and grapefruit, but cuts out the sugar and decreases the amount of maraschino liqueur to six drops. As Hemingway got older, he believed that he might have had diabetes, so he cut out sugar from his diet and his drinking.

Daiquiri
1 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
2 oz rum
Lime wedge for garnish

Combine ingredients in a shaker tin. Add ice, and strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with the lime wedge.

Hemingway Daiquiri
1 tsp maraschino liqueur
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz grapefruit
1/2 oz simple syrup
2 oz rum
Lime wedge for garnish

Combine ingredients in a shaker tin. Add ice, and strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with the lime wedge.

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What's the Right Way to Make a Sazerac?
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iStock

If you pronounce New Orleans "New Or-leens," or if you can’t get enough of those Big Ass Beers sold on Bourbon Street, you’re probably not actually from New Orleans. But if you’re feeling adventurous and missing the Big Easy, a Sazerac might be just what the doctor ordered. 

‘Tails and Stories

A few hundred years ago, you might have actually gotten a doctor’s order for a Sazerac. One of the drink's origin stories claims that it was invented by New Orleans apothecary Antoine Amedie Peychaud. According to this tale, Mr. Peychaud mixed up the drink with his eponymous bitters and served it in an egg coupe in his shop. 

A more likely origin story states that the drink was invented by a different New Orleans resident (though in the same neighborhood). Around 1850, Sewell T. Taylor sold his bar to Aaron Bird and went into the import business. One of his products happened to be Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils brandy. While Taylor was importing, Bird renamed his bar the Sazerac House and began serving a house cocktail that featured Taylor’s brandy and, as the story goes, bitters made by his neighborhood apothecary, Mr. Peychaud.

In the 1870s and 1880s, Europe's grape crops were decimated by an infestation of American aphids. In just four years, French wine production was cut by 67 percent, and even the most dedicated cognac drinkers switched to whiskey. For New Orleans, that meant switching to rye whiskey that was shipped to the city down the Ohio River and through the Mississippi. Thomas Handy, who owned the Sazerac Bar during that time period, likely switched the drink's main ingredient. This take on the signature cocktail is the one that found its way into the 1908 edition of The World's Drinks and How To Mix Them, with the recipe calling for "good whiskey," not Sazerac cognac. 

The origins of the Sazerac’s name is vague. It’s possible that it was a nod to the fact that it was the bar's house cocktail, but it’s also possible that it’s a reference to the brand of brandy. In those days, “cocktail” referred to a specific alcoholic drink format. As put forth by The Balance and Columbian Repository in 1806, a “cock-tail” is “a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.” If you wanted this type of drink with whiskey in it, you would ask for a Whiskey Cocktail. If you wanted Sazerac brandy (until the aphid plague, at least), you'd ask for a Sazerac cocktail.

Hit the Lab

Sazerac Recipe:

2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
.25 oz simple syrup (or a sugar cube)
2 oz good rye whiskey (use the good stuff)
lemon peel for garnish

Place the sugar cube into an absinthe-rinsed rocks glass. Dash the bitters onto the cube and muddle. Add whiskey and one large ice cube and stir to combine. Garnish with a lemon twist.

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Flickr User Janice Waltzer // CC BY 2.0
What’s the Right Way to Make a Caipirinha?
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Flickr User Janice Waltzer // CC BY 2.0

The Rio Olympics start in just a few weeks, and all eyes are on Brazil. To celebrate, we decided to focus on the country’s most famous cocktail creation: the Caipirinha.

In form, the Caipirinha is pretty much a Brazilian Daiquiri. It’s made from sugar, lime, and cachaça. Cachaça could be considered a cousin to rum, but it is altogether unique. While most rum is made from molasses, cachaça is made from fresh sugarcane juice.

Unlike rum, which can be made anywhere, cachaça can only be made in Brazil. Though it’s often sold unaged, it is usually matured in woods that are native to Brazil, like peanut and balm. As with wine, beer, and whiskey, different kinds of wood affect the product inside differently.

The classifications of cachaça aren’t based on the type of cask in which it’s aged. It can get a bit confusing: Spirit that is not stored in wood or is kept in stainless steel vats before it’s bottled is often called branca (white). But cachaça aged in wood that doesn’t color the liquor may also be labeled as branca. This category goes under several other names, including prata (silver) and clássica (classic).

Cachaça that’s stored or aged in wood is usually labeled as amarela (yellow), in reference to its color. These may also be labeled as ouro (gold). Envelhecida (aged) cachaça, a subtype of amarela, is a bit more involved: it’s considered aged if more than 50 percent of the content of the bottle has been aged for at least a year in a barrel that’s 700 liters or smaller.

Cachaça is the “third most produced distilled drink in the world,” according to Alcohol In Latin America: A Social and Cultural History. Though more than 5000 brands existed in 2008, it was relatively ignored outside of Brazil until the recent resurgence of craft cocktails. In fact, until 2013, it had to be labeled “Brazilian rum” to be imported into the U.S. As a result, it’s often mistaken by many people for being a type of rum.

Unfortunately, we don’t really know anything definite about the origins of the Caipirinha. Like the Mojito and the Old Fashioned, the formula was perhaps first used in folk medicine. Carlos Lima, the executive director of IBRAC (the Brazilian Institute of Cachaça) told Casa e Jardim that a mix of lime, garlic, and honey with a pour of cachaça was probably used in São Paulo around 1918 as a remedy for the Spanish Flu.

As the story goes, someone eventually decided to skip the garlic and honey. Then, to balance the acidity of the lime, sugar was added. Over time, the drink spread into bars, ice entered the equation, and it became the Caipirinha we know today.

HIT THE LAB

Like the Mojito, the classic Caipirinha recipe is quite simple, but it’s also been the subject of many, many variations. We’ve included the International Bartenders Association (IBA) recipe as well as a modern take on the drink.

Caipirinha
Modified from the IBA website.

2 ounces Cachaça
1/2 of a lime
1 tablespoon sugar

Muddle lime and sugar in an Old Fashioned glass. Fill with ice and pour cachaça over it. Stir and enjoy.

Prata B. (Puerto Rico Asta Ah Brazil)
Recipe by Luis Ramos, bar manager of Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco.

1 3/4 ounces Avua Prata Cachaça
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce pineapple gomme syrup
1/2 ounce Pedro Ximenez sherry
1/4 ounce Punt e Mes
Grated nutmeg, lime zest, lime wheel for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a Collins glass. Add crushed ice and stir until glass frosts. Top glass with grated nutmeg, lime zest, and lime wheel.

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