The Hemingway Daiquiri


“This frozen daiquiri, so well beaten as it is, looks like the sea where the wave falls away from the bow of a ship when she is doing thirty knots,” wrote Hemingway, in Islands in the Stream (1970), the first of his novels to be published posthumously (166). A drink served either frozen or up, the daiquiri, a cocktail classified under the sours family, features many variations, with one of the most fascinating ones being attributed to the late writer himself.

“He was drinking another of the frozen daiquiris with no sugar in it and as he lifted it, heavy and the glass frost-rimmed, he looked at the clear part below the frapped top and it reminded him of the sea. The frapped part of the drink was like the wake of a ship and the clear part was the way the water looked when the bow cut it when you were in shallow water over marl bottom. That was almost the exact color[…]” (Ibid 163).  Hemingway’s description of the cocktail is quite suitable.  The drink itself glistens brightly, especially when served in the frozen variety, taking on a frothy off white color, like a speckled jewel.  As described in Islands in the Stream, the drink comes best, according to Hemingway, with double the amount of alcohol and no added sugar.  Many modern cocktail recipes will call for added simple syrup in order to curb the tartness of the limes, and perhaps due to an increasing prevalence and fondness for sweets that is found in the modern population.  However, without the simple syrup, the fresh flavors of grapefruit and lime dominate the drink, the maraschino flavors float lightly in the background, and the sweetness of the white Rum plays on the palate.

The drink is seemingly, like all daiquiris, a delicious aperitif, used to stimulate the appetite, but would pair well with a light meal, most noticeably seafood; as such, while imbibing this, I paired it with a crab quesadilla, and some  , both spicy and with the “fish-like” taste of seafood, which contrasted quite well against flavor of the fresh fruit and sweetness of the rum, as well as the cold, for lack of a better description, wetness of the ice.  However, the shared flavors of citrus in the drink and the salsa worked exceedingly well in complementing one another.  I would definitely pair it with lighter fair, such as chips and salsa, prior to a main course.

As I mentioned, the cocktail can be served both up, and in the frozen variety, and seeing that while Hemingway was meticulous when it came to how his cocktails were produced, I thought I would produce the frozen variety as a monument to the fond descriptions set forth in Islands in the Stream.  If this were made where it was served up, one would, in order to remind the readers, combine the ingredients, shake with ice, strain and serve in a chilled glass.  However, in producing a frozen type, the ingredients are either poured over shaved ice (also known as frappé), or blended in a blender with ice, preferably cracked or crushed, until a slush-like consistency is obtained.  Hemingway is known to have drunk both, and considering how fondly he praises them in Islands in the Stream, and since he was known to have had many double shot frozen daiquiris at Floridita Bar in Cuba, the frozen version just seems more true to Hemingway’s tastes.  Though, while Hemingway was a fan of Cuban rum, I strayed a bit, and utilized a different style of white Rum, a type called agricole, which possesses a much more fruity flavor.

Rum is quite varied, with spirits that are similar to it, such as Cachaça (for future discussion).  Yet, Rum dominates our minds as a product of the Caribbean.  Usually composed of distilled molasses, it comes in three different distinct styles: Spanish, English, and French.  The Spanish variety are usually light in color and are cleaner tasting; Cuban rum would be one of these types, with one major name brand being Bacardi.  On the other hand, English rum is generally darker, and have a thicker molasses flavor.  Jamaican rum is of this variety.  Yet, interestingly enough, as David Wondrich points out in Imbibe!, Jamaican rum is oftentimes no longer produced in Jamaica.  French rum is also known as a agricultural rum, or rhum agricole, and are made from sugarcane juice rather than molasses, and as such are richer in flavor, and less clean tasting, while also exhibiting a lot more floral and fruity notes.  I used a rhum blanc agricole, or a white agricultural rum, originating from Martinique, at 100 proof, specifically because of its sugarcane taste, and fruity notes, that I felt would pair well with the citrus in the cocktail.

Maraschino liqueur is dominated by the Luxardo brand: “The Luxardo brand is the gold standard here and always have been” (Wondrich 60).  Specifically, the liqueur is made from a marasca cherry, which originates near the Adriatic Sea, and was “popularized in nineteenth-century Champagne punches” (DeGroff 101).  “Like most liqueurs, the floral, sweet Maraschino has never been used as a cocktail base-always as an accent.  Beginning in the 1880s, Maraschino cherries were available in the United States from the Luxardo company, which bottled marasca cherries in actual Maraschino liqueur” (Ibid).  However, as DeGroff notes, the liqueur has been replaced with red food coloring, almond oils and sugar, and are now almost impossible to come across (Ibid).  The liqueur itself has notes of pistachio on the nose, and has an interesting yet tart taste.

A final note on the grapefruit juice: grapefruits, like most other fruits, come in different varietals.  Depending on the flavor and look that you want, you have to be careful about what varietal to use.  Obviously, fresh juices and ingredients always wins out over bottled or canned or preserved stuff, but be careful about the type of grapefruit you are using.  To illustrate, I tried three different types of grapefruits available at my local market.  The juice on the left is Blanco, the middle is Foster, and the one on the right is from a Redblush (Ruby) grapefruit.  While all shared similar flavors, the Redblush one was more tart mainly on account of seemingly less sugar in the juice.  The Blanco was the most sugary, and the most fruit-like one was the Foster, being somewhat similar to a cross between the two.  Because of this, I went with the Blanco, but I could see using the Foster, mainly for aesthetic reasons, but also flavor wise.  Since I don’t want to add simple syrup to appeal to the modern palate, I want the sugar of the grapefruit juice to balance the drink, and the first two do that wonderfully. (The same can be applied to other fruits.  Also, when using fruit juice, you will probably want to double or fine strain the juice so that no pulp gets into the drink, unless desired.)

Lastly, while Hemingway might have liked frappé styled Daiquiri drinks, I also included the more common and “traditional,” drink served up.  In the case of the frappé version, you want to raise the sugar to account for the water in the drink, in order to give it a bit more taste and fruity flavor.  The same can be said for the rum.  In the version which is served up, you want to reduce the amount of juice to balance the drink better.

The Hemingway Daiquiri (blended):

1 1/2 to 2 ounces white Rum
3/4 to 1 ounce lime juice
3/4 to 1 ounce grapefruit juice
1/4 ounce Maraschino liqueur

Add crushed or cracked ice in a blender, followed by adding the liquids simultaneously, adjusted to taste.  Blend until desired texture is reached.  Pour into desired stemware glass.  Garnish with a pair of straws, a wedge or lime, or some fresh mint. 

Note: the two straws are not so that the drink is shared, but rather if one gets clogged with ice, you can transition over to the other one.

Note: position the mint next to the straws, so that the fragrance reaches the nose when the drink is sipped.  To me, it helps make the flavors more prevalent and apparent

 The Hemingway Daiquiri (not blended):

1 1/2 ounces white rum
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce grapefruit juice
1/4 ounce Marashino liqueur

Mix ingredients in a tin with ice, shake until well chilled.  Strain into a glass and serve up.


Craddock, Henry.  1999.  The Savoy Cocktail Book.  Originally published 1930.  London: Pavilion Books.

Curtis, Wayne.  “The Old Man and the Daiquiri.”  Originally published in Atlantic Monthly, October, 2005. (accessed February 11, 2010).

DeGroff, Dale. 2008. The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks. New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers.

Morton, J. 1987. “Grapefruit.” In Fruits of Warm Climates.  Miami: Florida Flair Books.

Wikipedia contributors. “Rum.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. (accessed February 13, 2010). 

Wondrich, David. 2007. Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar. New York: Penguin Group.