Monday, July 4, 2011

The Hemingway Daiquiri

"My mojito in the Bodeguita del Medio and my daiquiri in the Floridita." 
- Ernest Hemingway
On July 2, 1961, Ernest Hemingway took his shotgun and took his leave of this world.

On July 2, 2011, the fiftieth anniversary of Papa Hemingway's death, my savvy wife suggested - quite wisely - that we honor one of the twentieth-century's greatest writers by recreating a drink he famously enjoyed at the historic El Floridita, in Havana, Cuba. The drink, of course, is the daiquiri.

I have had the pleasure of visiting El Floridita during two separate trips to Havana. This hallowed watering hole, like much of Havana, seems to have stood still in time, evoking a lush yet sepia-toned era of high style and tropical elegance. The incense of decades of cigar smoke makes the wood fragrant and spicy. The breeze wafts lazily through the open doors. At the very spot along the bar where Hemingway used to stand during his frequent visits, is a bronze statue commemorating his patronage and paying homage to the legendary relationship of a unique man to an incomparable city.

The daiquiri at El Floridita could be considered to be the pinnacle of this particular cocktail. Perhaps it is the location and the tropical heat, ensuring that the icy and tart drink has maximum impact in terms of nostalgia and refreshment. I am sure there are better daiquiris, bigger daiquiris, and stronger daiquiris, but none are as a beautiful or satisfying as one consumed at the bar, next to Hemingway's bronze, at El Floridita on a muggy afternoon in Havana.

The Hemingway Daiquiri, also known as the Papa Doble, was first made by Constantino Ribailagua of El Floridita in the early 1920s. What makes it different from the standard daiquiri (light rum, fresh lime juice, sugar) are ingredients such as grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur. Without further ado:

Hemingway Daiquiri 
(aka, Papa Doble)
  • 1.5 oz white rum (Cruzan is a good, inexpensive one)
  • 1/4 oz maraschino liqueur such as Luxardo
  • 1/2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • 3/4 fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup or agave syrup, or teaspoon of superfine sugar
Combine the ingredients in a shaker, add ice, and shake vigorously for about a ten-count. Strain into a cocktail glass and enjoy. There is not usually a garnish (that I recall), but a sprig of mint looks and smells good with this.

Bottoms up!

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