For bartenders, the proper Daiquiri construction is hotly debated and highly subjective. Everyone’s got a way to make the three-ingredient classic: “If you want to test the bartender, you order the Daiquiri,” says Miami’s Julio Cabrera, a champion of the drink.
While the cocktail has inspired riffs upon riffs—like the classic variation made with absinthe, or more idiosyncratic recipes, like the Eggnog Daiquiri, that push the limits of the definition of the drink—equal attention has been paid to improving the rum sour in its classic form, riffing instead on its basic building blocks.
A Superior Piña Colada Is Just a Few Coffee Beans Away
To bring balance and complexity to frozen cocktails, add several whole coffee beans directly to the blender.
For the base spirit, certain bartenders call on rum blends for added complexity, or split the base with sherry to lower the proof. For the sweetener, some swap in cordials, including those made from ingredients left over from the drink-making process; this green pineapple cordial makes use of spent rinds. Another sweetener hack steeps starchy rice into a syrup that, when shaken, helps the drink “hold incredible froth,” according to Sean Umstead, owner of Kingfisher in Durham, North Carolina, where bartender Zig Payton created the Toasted Rice Daiquiri. To counter excessive sweetness, meanwhile, a few bartenders use whole coffee beans in frozen Daiquiris to add a bitter backbone to the drink.
But of all the elements in the cocktail, it’s the citrus that has been subject to the most experimentation. Consider concentrated citrus stock, another low-waste technique made from lemon and lime husks, which can be mixed with fresh juice to bolster its flavor. To make the lime in a Daiquiri pop, others use powdered acids for extra tang. Alternatively, the powders can be added to ingredients like Curaçao to sub in for fresh citrus altogether.
A final technique limits dilution and amplifies the flavor in a Daiquiri (or, really, any shaken cocktail). The “juice shake” is a method of freezing clarified juice with simple syrup into cubes, replacing the ice in a shaker. With a little bit of prep, this can make à la minute addition of fruit flavors like pineapple to a Daiquiri a breeze (see: the Electric Avenue). Even certain nonclarified juices can work with this technique—try it with unsweetened cranberry juice, which Dave Arnold, creator of the technique, describes as “a hero ingredient.”
With such a wide array of Daiquiri hacks at your disposal, you could tinker with the recipe forever. But the key to a sublime version is to keep experimenting. As Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, who spent five and half years dialing in his take on the classic, puts it, “the simplest drinks are always the most maddening.”