The word “Daiquiri” often conjures images of the flamboyant, artificial fruit variety, garnished with at least one umbrella, a plastic swizzle stick and, if you’re lucky, a real strawberry. But, at its core, the famous drink relies on the simplest of templates: rum, lime and sweetener.
According to Charles H. Baker, author of 1939’s The Gentleman’s Companion, the drink was born out of the need to make palatable the combination of rum and water (then commonly used as a malaria preventative). The solution to add a squeeze of lime and a little sugar to the otherwise medicinal mixture, Baker writes, originated with Harry E. Stout and Jennings Cox, who created the cocktail in 1898 in Cuba, in the village of Daiquiri.
This simple combination, according to David Wondrich’s Imbibe, became the “first true classic cocktail invented outside the United States,” having gained a following in the crowds of Americans stationed on the island following the Spanish-American War. It wasn’t for another decade that the Daiquiri would become a stateside sensation and earn its place in the cocktail canon.
How the drink came to be inextricably linked to its frozen variation is another story, which begins with Constante Ribalaigua of El Floridita bar in Havana, who occasionally served the Daiquiri as a frappé on a bed of finely shaved ice, a style that would become popular in the U.S.. A labor-intensive process, the order was received—not unlike that for a Pousse Café or a Ramos Gin Fizz—with a groan. It wasn’t until the 1937 release of the Waring Blendor (the official trademarked spelling) that the frozen Daiquiri became commonplace.
As for the shaken variations, there is a small canon of classics upon which to riff, thanks again to Ribalaigua, who is credited with the creation and documentation of the drink’s three primary calling cards. Labeled numerically, each builds on the rum-, sugar- and lime-based template of the original cocktail, the Daiquiri No. 1. While the No. 2 sees the addition of orange Curaçao and orange juice, the No. 3—what we now refer to as the Hemingway Daiquiri—is flavored with grapefruit and maraschino liqueur. Here, a look at the classics and their modern twists.