The Daiquiri was supposedly invented in 1898 in the eponymous mining town of Daiquiri on the southeastern tip of Cuba by an American mining engineer named Jennings Cox. It was introduced in the United States a decade later, when a U.S. Navy medical officer brought the recipe from Cuba to Washington, D.C.
This three-ingredient gift has pleased millions of palates over the ensuing years, including household names like Ernest Hemingway and President JFK. Yet no drink has suffered more abuse than the Daiquiri. In the century-plus since its inception, the granddaddy of rum cocktails has gone from the pride of Havana to an unloved extra on the back of a Señor Frog’s table tent. Even today, as the craft cocktail movement reaches full tilt, most people too often associate the Daiquiri with neon-colored adult slushies, the stuff of spring-break blackouts and mind-splitting hangovers.
But in its purest form, the Daiquiri is simple and sublime, a delicate blend of rum’s sweetness with the raw freshness of sugar and lime juice. Whole lives have been dedicated to balancing those three elements. That each ingredient should be of the highest quality goes without saying, though even then the Daiquiri can throw you a curve. Choose an overly sweet rum or use too much sugar, and you’re left sipping liquid candy; overdo the citrus, and the cocktail drowns in a puckering pool of acidity.
This recipe walks the knife edge with a mix of light rum and a darker demerara sugar syrup. The two accentuate the best qualities in each other and pair perfectly with the fresh lime juice. One trick when juicing the limes: Use a hand-squeezer (or your own hands). The oils from the rind add an extra flash of intensity that gives the cocktail a nice, bright edge.