When most people think of a daiquiri, they picture a slushy, frozen cocktail in a tall glass garnished with a slice of lime. While frozen daiquiris are certainly popular, especially in warm weather, the original daiquiri was not actually frozen. Let’s take a closer look at the history and evolution of this classic rum drink.
The Origins of the Daiquiri
The daiquiri was invented in the late 1800s near the town of Daiquiri in Cuba. One story credits an American mining engineer named Jennings Cox with creating the cocktail. According to legend, Cox ran out of gin while entertaining guests and improvised a new drink mixing rum, lime juice, and sugar. This simple combination resulted in a refreshing and tasty concoction that became known as a “daiquiri.”
Another account attributes the daiquiri’s origins to a Cuban tavern owner named Constantino Ribalaigua Vert. His bar, El Floridita in Havana, was a popular hangout for expatriates and tourists in the early 20th century. Vert supposedly tweaked Cox’s original recipe, doubling the rum and lime juice for a stronger drink. His “daiquiri” soon gained fame across Cuba.
Regardless of its precise creator, the daiquiri was born in Cuba sometime between the Spanish-American War and World War I. Back then, it was served shaken and strained into a chilled cocktail glass. Early recipes called for rum, fresh lime juice, and sugar or simple syrup. The proportions varied, but the combination of citrusy lime and smooth rum made the daiquiri an instant hit.
The Daiquiri Goes Global
American author Ernest Hemingway was one of the daiquiri’s earliest high-profile fans. He frequented El Floridita in the 1930s and 40s and even contributed his own variation, the Papa Doble daiquiri, featuring grapefruit juice, maraschino liqueur, and double the rum. The drink’s connection to Hemingway helped popularize it internationally.
Over the next few decades, the daiquiri spread from Cuba across North America, Europe, and beyond. It became a beloved menu item in Tiki bars and other cocktail lounges. Additional riffs like the banana daiquiri and strawberry daiquiri also emerged, introducing fruit flavors to the basic formula.
By the 1950s, improved refrigeration and commercial blenders enabled bartenders to create frozen daiquiris. These slushy versions, especially the strawberry daiquiri, became staples of beachside bars and vacation destinations. Their popularity skyrocketed in the 1970s once pre-made frozen daiquiri machines hit the market.
Today, Hemingway daiquiris are still shaken by hand at El Floridita in Havana. But just about everywhere else, frozen daiquiris now dominate the scene. Blenders enable bartenders to whip air into the mixture, creating a light, fluffy texture. And strawberry and other fruit purees lend sweetness and color.
That said, some bars have brought back old-school shaken daiquiris to meet demand for craft cocktails. These use fresh-squeezed lime juice and often feature premium aged rums. A well-made shaken daiquiri highlights the spirit’s subtle flavors rather than masking them with heavy sugar.
In both forms, the daiquiri remains a simple and refreshing warmer weather drink. Its timeless combination of rum, citrus, and sweetener continues to satisfy cocktail lovers around the world. And while the frozen version may be more common, the original daiquiri lives on as well.
Traditional Daiquiri Ingredients
The classic daiquiri recipe calls for just 3 key ingredients:
- Rum – Typically white or light rum, but sometimes aged rum for flavor
- Fresh lime juice – Squeezed to order for peak freshness
- Sweetener – Simple syrup, sugar, or agave nectar to balance the lime
These core components are shaken vigorously with ice and strained into a chilled glass. Early recipes used ratios ranging from 1:1:1 to 8:2:1 (rum:lime:sweetener). Most modern versions fall around 2:1:1 for a balanced flavor profile.
Optional Daiquiri Additions
Some other ingredients occasionally used in daiquiris include:
- Fruit purees – Strawberry and banana are most common
- Fruit liqueurs – Such as maraschino liqueur or triple sec
- Bitters – For an extra hint of complexity
- Fruit juice – Grapefruit, pineapple, etc. depending on the variety
But these extras are generally viewed as creative riffs rather than essential components. The basic rum-lime-sweetener formula is considered defining.
How to Make a Frozen Daiquiri
While the original daiquiri is shaken and strained, frozen daiquiris are made in a blender. Here is a simple frozen daiquiri recipe:
- 2 oz white rum
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 1⁄2 oz simple syrup
- 1 cup ice
- Combine rum, lime juice, simple syrup, and several ice cubes in a blender
- Blend until smooth and frothy, about 30 seconds
- Add more ice and blend briefly to achievedesired consistency
- Pour into a chilled glass and garnish with a lime wedge
For a fruit daiquiri, blend in 3-4 oz of your favorite fruit puree as well. Blending longer incorporates more air for a lighter, icier texture.
Shaken vs. Frozen Daiquiris
So should you shake it or freeze it? Here’s a comparison of the two most common preparation methods:
|Shaken Daiquiri||Frozen Daiquiri|
|Shaken hard with ice and strained||Blended with ice into a slushy consistency|
|Served straight up in a cocktail glass||Served on the rocks in a larger collins glass|
|Emphasizes rum’s flavor||Fruit flavors come through more|
|Refreshes with tart citrus||More creamy, dessert-like texture|
|Usually just lime juice, rum, sugar||Often includes fruit purees or liqueurs|
|Quick to prepare||Requires extra blending step|
|Closer to the original||Wildly popular modern version|
Shaken daiquiris highlight the rum and lime, while frozen ones feature more fruit and a richer mouthfeel. Each has its merits depending on your mood and preferences!
3 Tasty Daiquiri Variations
Some delicious daiquiri riffs to try include:
The strawberry daiquiri is hands-down the most popular frozen daiquiri flavor. Strawberry puree gives it a sweet, pink hue.
Hemingway’s signature variation uses grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur for a touch of bitterness and complexity.
Banana liqueur and fruit puree add tropical flair to this creamy, banana-infused daiquiri.
Daiquiris are typically served in these glassware choices:
- Cocktail glass – Chilled coupe or martini glass for shaken daiquiris
- Collins glass – Tall glass filled with crushed ice for frozen daiquiris
- Margarita glass – Shorter, wide-rimmed glass also works for frozen drinks
Vintage daiquiri recipes sometimes call for a small, conical champagne glass. But today’s cocktail and collins glasses are more readily available options.
No matter how it’s served, a daiquiri isn’t complete without a garnish. Some popular options include:
- Lime wedge or wheel
- Luxardo cherry
- Mint sprig
- Pineapple frond
The lime garnish is essential, providing a burst of freshness with each sip. But creative garnishes can enhance the look and flavor even more.
While frozen daiquiris now dominate most bars, the original shaken version still has its merits. Both deliver that irresistible rum and lime combination but in different ways. So don’t be afraid to ask for an old-fashioned shaken daiquiri with no blender required! Just be sure to finish it off with a squeeze of fresh lime.