In this new series, we take a closer look at well-known cocktails. Get to know the history behind classic drinks as well as where you can find them in the DMV area. This week’s Drinks Decoded takes on the Daiquiri.
Stripped from the decorative umbrella and the general public’s opinion of it as a frozen slushy relegated to beach bars, when it comes down it, the real Daiquiri is a timeless drink made with just three simple ingredients: rum, lime and cane sugar. Besides the classic Daiquiri, another well-known variation is the Hemingway Daiquiri named after the famed author, whose diabetes (it is said) necessitated a drink with less sugar and sweetened with something more natural, like grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur. We are all familiar with the frozen Daiquiri whose proliferation has given the classic Daiquiri a bit of bad rap. That’s not to say that when done correctly (i.e. without the neon colors, overabundance of fruit garnishes and heaps of sugar), a frozen Daiquiri can be a refreshing alternative to the classic version.
Imagine you’re in Cuba. It’s hot, you’re thirsty, and there is no shortage of crushed ice, rum, and limes. This is just the scene Jennings Cox, an American engineer in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, found himself in. As the story goes, he had the genius idea of combining those three ingredients and named this new concoction after a nearby beach, Daiquiri. There are a few other origin stories floating around with attribution going to local Cubans who had been enjoying the drink long before Cox’s time, but as with all origin stories, the dispute lives on. The Daiquiri made its American debut in – of all cities – Washington, DC at the Army and Navy Club in 1909 by a medical officer who tried the drink in Cuba and subsequently raved about it, introducing it to the Club upon his return to the States. Thanks to a few factors, such as the ease of procuring rum over other spirits at the time and the fact that it became a favorite of well-known figures such as the aforementioned Hemingway and President John F. Kennedy, the popularity of the Daiquiri took off and the rest is history.
Seeing as how the Daiquiri made it’s US debut in DC, the nation’s capital is home to some bars who know how to pour a perfect Daiquiri:
Here you’ll find a no fuss Daiquiri with nothing more than the three essentials: rum, lime, and cane sugar. (1839 7th St., NW; 202-316-9396)
Head to 14th Street where you’ll catch Adam Bernbach mixing up creative takes on the classic. (1800 14th St., NW)
Teddy and the Bully Bar
Fun fact: Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders landed in Cuba on Daiquiri beach. Try the restaurant’s aptly named “Rough Rider” with rum, maraschino liqueur, grapefruit bitters, and lime oil. (1200 19th St., NW; 202-872-8700)
Photos by The Drink Nation
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