The name daiquiri often carries a connotation it picked up post-Prohibition that has very little to do with the classic drink. It’s not the frozen blender booze bombs made with artificial sour mix that make you terribly hung over after spring break or strolls down the Vegas strip.
A daiquiri often is overlooked when drinks are being ordered. With three basic ingredients — rum, lime and sugar — it has time-tested merit as a classic cocktail. It’s a light quaff that is simple and straightforward, which also is what makes it so versatile. Riffing on classics is what bartenders do best.
Whether it was an American mining engineer who invented the daiquiri in the Cuban village of Daiquirí, or British sailors thwarting scurvy who created it, we never truly will know. We do know that the daiquiri arrived stateside in 1909 when it was served at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C., and that it became a sensation during World War II, when grain rations restricted the drinking of beer and whiskey.
History notes Ernest Hemingway drinking daiquiris in the 1930s and ’40s at El Floridita in Havana, Cuba. His nickname, “Papa Doble,” arose from his penchant for sipping doubles. He also gave us the most famous variation, the Hemingway daiquiri. A diabetic, Hemingway liked them without sugar, and with the addition of grapefruit and maraschino liqueur.
With a daiquiri, bartenders have a lot of room to be inventive. Different proportions and different rums can make something very interesting and really personal. All you need are fresh ingredients and a little know-how when it comes to balance. Here are some variations currently on Atlanta drink menus. Celebrate them on July 19, National Daiquiri Day.
Gangster Daiquiri #2 at Bellina Alimentari
Everything is based around Italy at Ponce City Market’s Bellina Alimentari. Bellina means “beautiful” and “inviting,” and that’s just what the Gangster Daiquiri #2 is. Along with the building blocks of rum and lime, a sweet and bitter balance of pineapple and the Italian bitter liqueur Amaro de Angostura is added. It’s buono.
Bellina Alimentari. 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-330-9933, bellina-alimentari.com.
Foreign but Indigenous at the Deer and the Dove
At chef Terry Koval’s new Decatur restaurant, orgeat is the secret weapon in its daiquiri riff. The sweet syrup made from almonds adds richness in both flavor and mouthfeel. Beverage director Jason Kemp also swaps rhum agricole, rum made from squeezed sugar cane juice instead of molasses, for the standard rum, providing a grassy, herbaceous complexity. A dash of bitters furthers the zing and adds a colorful tinge.
The Deer and the Dove. 155 Sycamore St., Decatur. 404-748-4617, deerdove.com.
Jungle Bird at Garden and Gun Club
Everyone is a member at Garden and Gun Club, nestled in the heart of the Battery at SunTrust Park. For a tropical escape, seek out the tiki-esque Jungle Bird, which combines a delicious mix of dark rum, Campari and fruit juices. Camapari is not a usual suspect in tiki drinks, but it is spotlighted here, and makes the drink more bracing. Pineapple adds sweetness, and the deep molasses notes of blackstrap rum mellow the mixture. It’s tropical and fruity, with rum character shining through.
Garden and Gun Club. 2605 Circle 75 Parkway SE, Atlanta. 770-726-0925, gardenandgunclub.com.
C&S daiquiri at Cooks & Soldiers
Most things at Cooks & Soldiers draw upon the wonders of Basque cuisine. However, the daiquiri there builds upon a recipe that has passed the test of time. Lime is part and parcel of the cocktail. Cocchi Rosa, made with herbs and spices like gentian root and orange peels, lends a little sweet/bitter taste. It’s all shaken together with coconut-washed rum that adds a silky texture. It abates the brightness of lime for a richer experience, and a pretend escape to paradise conveniently located on the Westside.
Cooks & Soldiers. 691 14th St. NW, Atlanta. 404-996-2623, cooksandsoldiers.com.
Bergamot daiquiri at Kimball House
Daiquiris are ever-changing at Kimball House, often highlighting fresh herbs, flowers or fruits from the restaurant’s many gardens. Their bergamot daiquiri elevates the classic recipe, but pays respect to its roots. It’s boozy and citrusy, just like Hemingway liked them, incorporating both rum and rhum. Mixed in along with lime is bergamot, the same fragrant citrus fruit that gives Earl Grey tea its unique flavor.
Kimball House. 303 E. Howard Ave., Decatur. 404-378-3602, Kimball-house.com.
Shake the classic cocktail up at home with this recipe:
2 ounces rum
1 ounce lime juice
1 bar spoon granulated sugar
Lime wheel, for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the rum, lime juice and sugar. Shake well (about 20 times) and strain into a coupe glass. Float a lime wheel on top of the drink.
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