Hemingway Daiquiri

You don't have to be in The Keys to enjoy this drink.

Hemingway Daiquiri
Photo: Photography: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox
Prep Time:
3 mins
Total Time:
3 mins
Servings:
1

Ernest Hemingway may be renowned in the literary world for works like The Old Man and the Sea and The Sun Also Rises, but barkeepers in Havana and Key West once knew him better as an avid cocktail aficionado. His barhopping habits (and strong beverage opinions) eventually led to the creation of the Hemingway Daiquiri, a variation on the classic daiquiri that better suited Hemingway's particular tastes—and one that remains popular among fans of rum cocktails who prefer their drinks on the stiffer side.

What Is the History of the Hemingway Daiquiri?

The tale of the Hemingway Daiquiri begins in Havana, Cuba in the 1920s, when Hemingway himself was a resident of the island nation. During this time, he frequented El Floridita, a still-operational Havana bar that claims to have invented the daiquiri.

Hemingway tried El Floridita's signature drink and, while he enjoyed the daiquiri, he felt that the cocktail's traditional preparation included too much sugar. (Hemingway had diabetes; according to rumors, he tried to limit his sugar intake for that reason.)

The bar team at El Floridita responded to Hemingway's concerns by devising a new spin on the daiquiri that was less sweet, more spirit-forward, and just as refreshing as the original: the "Hemingway Daiquiri."

How Does the Hemingway Daiquiri Differ from a Traditional Daiquiri?

The bartenders at El Floridita made a few substantial changes to the classic daiquiri to accommodate Hemingway's requests.

"[Hemingway] liked the daiquiri, but he wanted it to be a little more sour and with a double shot of rum," explains partner and bartender Drew Childers of Harold's Cabin in Charleston, South Carolina. Because of the additional dose of rum, the Hemingway Daiquiri is colloquially called the "Papa Doble" in Cuba and South Florida.

In an effort to both balance out the extra booze and to appeal to Hemingway's fondness for tangy flavors, bartenders added both "grapefruit and maraschino liqueur" to the drink, Childers tells us. The result, as Elvia Murillo, food and beverage manager of The Driskill in Austin, Texas, puts it, is "a rum-forward version of a lime daiquiri with the addition of grapefruit juice, and [maraschino] liqueur balances the tartness of the grapefruit."

Most significantly, the Hemingway Daiquiri includes no sweetener beyond the maraschino liqueur. Some bartenders now like to add sweetening agents, believing that the drink has a better flavor blend with a bit of extra sugar, but if you want to enjoy it the way that Hemingway did, skip the simple syrup.

How Can You Make an Excellent Hemingway Daiquiri at Home?

1. Take the time to be precise.

Like many other cocktails, the Hemingway Daiquiri relies on specific ratios of spirits to mixers. For that reason, it's smart to pick up a cocktail measuring cup (also known as a "jigger") to help you get the ingredient quantities as exact as possible.

"Balance is the key to a perfect Hemingway Daiquiri. With citrus carrying such bold flavors, you don't want to overpower cocktails by free pouring. Using classic cocktail jiggers will keep your drink in continuous harmony," says director of food and beverage Colby Mitchell of Holston House in Nashville.

2. Use fresh juices.

Don't rely on pre-squeezed lime and grapefruit juices for your Hemingway Daiquiri; instead, purchase fresh limes and grapefruits and squeeze your own.

"The biggest mistake would be using artificial or preserved juices such as bottled lime juice. Part of what makes the Hemingway Daiquiri so great is the use of both fresh grapefruit and lime juices. It not only helps keep the cocktail tied to its traditional Cuban roots, but it also ensures that the true flavors of its ingredients shine through with each sip," insists director of food and beverage Richard Iannone of the Harpeth Hotel in Franklin, Tennessee.

3. Shake with the right amount of ice.

Some Hemingway Daiquiri recipes will tell you that "dry shaking," or shaking without ice, is an acceptable way to mix this cocktail. But for the most refreshing version possible, you'll want to keep a few (but not too many) ice cubes on-hand for the cocktail shaking process.

"Dilution levels [are important]. You need to shake enough to get that ideal froth on top, but not so long and with so much ice that your daiquiri is about to overflow. A colleague of mine often says that 'filling a drink to the very top of the glass is sloppy, not generous.' A quick but aggressive five ice cube-shake to agitate and aerate the citrus should put the Hemingway in that perfect zone of froth, temperature, and balance," suggests head bartender Tim Sweeney of Pebble Bar in New York City.

4. Try replacing the maraschino liqueur with brandy.

Ditching the simple syrup and using maraschino liqueur as the sole sweetener was the El Floridita solution to Hemingway's desire for a less-sugary daiquiri, but if even the maraschino liqueur is too sweet for your palate, you'll be glad to know that there's another option.

"[I] like to use Kirsch brandy as a substitute for maraschino liqueur because it's distilled from Morello cherries and is extra dry," says food and beverage director Bahja Delfico of The Opus in White Plains, New York.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. white rum

  • ¾ oz. lime juice

  • ½ oz. grapefruit juice

  • 2 bar spoons (about 1/3 oz.) maraschino liqueur

  • ¼ oz. aged rum (optional)

  • Lime wheel or grapefruit wheel, for garnish

Directions

  1. Chill a coupe glass in the freezer for 10 minutes.

  2. Add white rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, and maraschino liqueur to a cocktail shaker. Place the lid on the shaker, and dry shake (shake without ice) or 10 seconds. Open the shaker, and fill halfway with ice cubes. Place the lid back on the shaker, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds, or until the shaker becomes almost too cold to handle. Remove the coupe glass from the freezer, and strain the cocktail into the glass. Garnish with a lime slice or a grapefruit slice.

For an extra level of rum flavor and potency, place the bar spoon upside down over the liquid in the glass once you've poured the shaken cocktail into the coupe. Gently pour the aged rum over the back of the spoon to create a "floating" layer.

If you like the flavor of the cherry liqueur, feel free to add a tiny bit more.

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