Before there were blenders, crazy flavors, or bright colors, the traditional daiquiri was a simple shaken drink of rum (white or aged), freshly squeezed lime juice, and some sugar syrup to smooth out the edges.
Both the daiquiri and the frozen daiquiri were invented in Cuba. The classic hand-shaken version is from a mining town called Daiquirí, and the frozen version began at El Floridita in Havana. Daiquiris also have a long history in New Orleans. I’d go so far as to say that no other American city can claim that the daiquiri means more to their town than it does to New Orleans.
I’ve been to both spots and have made both iterations in their respective birthplaces. To get a firsthand experience, I went with an American group of cantineros to the iron mines near Santiago. There, American mining engineer Jennings Cox allegedly created the daiquiri. He then took the concoction by train to nearby Daiquirí Beach (hence the name). Although those mines are no longer in use, we made a pilgrimage to the remote locale. There is still a train platform there, and we made daiquiris on it to commemorate the place from which the drink traveled to that fateful beach. It was truly inspirational.
El Floridita, the historic Havana bar and restaurant that was one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite haunts, is notable because it was the first bar to use a blender to make slushy cocktails, and Caribbean lifestyle brought the drink to New Orleans as a form of relief from the heat. From there, New Orleans got so crazy for frozen drinks that I’ve embarrassed myself in the past by attempting to be a frozen drinks bartender. It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be.
Purists would scoff at adding anything to a traditional daiquiri, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously at the French 75 Bar. That is why we made this hand-shaken strawberry daiquiri—because strawberries are in season, and daiquiris are always in season.
Resident Bartender Chris Hannah is the head bartender for Arnaud’s French 75 Bar and a 2017 James Beard Foundation award winner.
- 1½ strawberries, hulled and halved
- 1½ ounces light rum
- ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
- ½ ounce aged rum
- ½ ounce Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
- In a mixing glass, muddle strawberries. Add light rum, lime juice, aged rum, and Simple Syrup. Add ice. Cover and shake until cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- In a small saucepan, bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring frequently, until sugar is dissolved. Let cool to room temperature before using. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 month.