Where Did the “Snaquiri” Come From?

The "Snaquiri"—or a tiny Daiquiri meant to be taken as a shot—has become a nationwide bartender handshake. Kara Newman on where the Snaquiri originated, and how it's evolved.

At NYC’s Blacktail, a server circulates the room with a trayful of tiny flutes that glow with a pale yellow moonlight sheen. Every guest will receive one of these little drinks before they’ve even cracked the spine of the hard-backed book that serves as a menu. This cocktail amuse-bouche is two ounces of frozen Daiquiri, aka a “Snaquiri,” aka a “Snaq.” 

The original Snaquiri, however, wasn’t a shot. In fact, it wasn’t even a full-sized drink: It was two full-sized drinks, served side by side.

“In 2010, I was with Giuseppe [Gonzalez, now proprietor of Suffolk Arms] in Summit Bar on Avenue C,” recalls Karin Stanley of NYC’s Dutch Kills, who is widely credited for both the concept and the name. “We were talking about our favorite drinks. Mine was very decidedly the Daiquiri. We started ordering them two at a time, one in a water tumbler and one in a coupe. We’d shoot the water tumbler and sip the coupe.” A few puns later, the Snaquiri was born, and a pineapple version ultimately became a ritual start to shifts at Dutch Kills.

“Very few drinks get better over time,” Stanley says, recalling a line from Harry Craddock’s 1930s Savoy Cocktail Book, oft-cited by her mentor, the late Sasha Petraske, a co-owner of Dutch Kills. “He’d say you should drink a cocktail quickly, ‘while it’s still laughing at you.’”

In 2012 (the same year Petraske organized the first San Antonio Cocktail Conference), the Snaq tradition popped up at Weather Up, the Austin offshoot of the Brooklyn bar owned by Milk & Honey alum Katherine Weatherup. The full-sized Daiquiri-as-shooter was also popularized by the team at The Brooklynite (not a Petraske bar) in San Antonio, although the “Snaquiri” moniker didn’t stick. (There have been claims that the Snaquiri actually originated here in Texas, but all roads still lead back to Dutch Kills.)

While the ritual spread beyond the extended Petraske clan, the word didn’t catch on outside the bar until Ben Schott, writing for the New York Times, outed the “Snaiquiri” [sic] as “a sneaky, pre-daiquiri daiquiri” in a 2014 glossary of “the secret vocabulary” of NYC bars. 

At some point thereafter, the Snaquiri was downsized to a more approachable size for the average drinker, though it’s hard to say exactly when that happened. “It has definitely gone off on its own to be a Daiquiri shot,” Stanley says. It’s indeed enjoying a new life as a mini-drink gifted by a bartender to a well-liked patron and comes in a number of different varieties (frozen, banana-flavored, etc.).

It’s also become a team ritual, referred to by many as the Daiquiri Time Out, or DTO. In this format, a single Daiquiri is split up into enough portions for everyone behind the bar, giving everyone a little Daiquiri breather mid-shift. Of course, this won’t deter some bartenders from gleefully downing icy, full-sized Snaqs, plus a spare to enjoy at a more leisurely pace. But ideally, the spirit of the Snaquiri is best realized as a communal drink—a round, not a solo slam-back, best viewed through the prism of the DTO shot glass.

Related Articles