Each are a type of drink, not so much a cocktail, both the Fix and the Daisy are long drinks filled with flavor and a refreshing chill, a tad bit of sweetness and tartness on the tongue.
As you most probably know, ages ago mixed drinks came in a variety of forms, most of which are now classified as the cocktail, even though the variations and differences between the concoctions, no matter how subtle, were representative of different mixed drinks. The Fix is one such drink, and is rather similar, on first glance to the Daisy. Both the Fix and the Daisy are drinks “of the Sour type,” utilizing citrus, syrup and a spirit; according to Embury, the Daisy differs traditionally in the use of raspberry or grenadine syrup, while the Fix calls for pineapple syrup (Embury 298). Even though the difference is incredibly small, it demonstrates and reiterates how easy it is to vary the flavor and utter ethos of a drink through a rather small change in ingredient.
Oftentimes, the Fix is featured as a drink over a fine ice, in order to create an incredible chill on the drink and the glass, making it seem much more refreshing. This is the same with the Daisy. In the case of each drink in order to emphasize the cold nature, the ice and liquid are swished together through the use of a swizzle stick or a bar spoon, which helps in creating a wonderful frosty appearance upon the glass and reaching a cold equilibrium incredibly quickly. In many cases, the drink also features a float of another liqueur at the top of the drink, in order to create a wonderful aesthetic effect: oftentimes, if it is a syrup or cordial, the spirit will sink, graduating the color of the drink, as is the case with a tequila sunrise.
There is another difference that originates back to Jerry Thomas, which is not made of note in Embury: with a Daisy, oftentimes the drink is topped up with a sparkling water or seltzer, which lightens the overall drink. This is a wonderful touch, giving the drink a bit of effervescence (Thomas 32). In a way, this might also be another key note in understanding a difference between the two drinks, beyond just fruit flavor and color. At the very least however, this marks some change in consumption practices, or preparation practices, on drinks that were already rather similar, making them more similar than earlier. To trace this difference however, we can look at Wondrich’s research on the matter, which demonstrates that the Fix and the Sour are the earliest classes of “Lesser Punch,” and the Fix being slightly older than that of the Sour, even though when looking at these drinks, we would now call them all of the Sour family (Wondrich 98-106). It was in the mid to late 19th century that we start to see the Daisy emerge, as a drink that was cool and refreshing, using the inclusion of soda water to bring a refreshing quality to the beverage that was lacking before. The Daisy was, according to Wondrich (106-108) an offshoot of the Sour, giving the simpler drink a new quality while retaining its’ simple nature; soda water was not necessary for something such as the Fix, which was already rather complicated to make with the inclusion of a fancy fruit garnish.
The shift to a more direct comparison between the two, as set out by Embury and others, might very well have to do with changes in drinking practice, and the view in which drinks were related to one another; a Daisy perhaps was seen more similar to the Fix, and so became more associated with it, rather than being seen as associated with a Collins or Fizz, both of which are further offshoots of punch. But, of note is that the products Embury is talking about, those ones being so similar, are only found in more recent literature, and books that were close contemporaries of Embury, such as Craddock’s Savoy, treat the drinks more as one would as is the cases with the older, more original format, that being the inclusion of soda water or not: Craddock’s recipes for the Daisy and the Fix are nearly identical, save for a short note about using Apollinaris or seltzer to top up the drink. It seems then that Embury could perhaps have forgotten to mention the inclusion of seltzer; yet in most bars, getting a Daisy means you will be getting something without the seltzer now a days, as Embury’s style for the drinks have become the “traditional” or conservative approach.
Garnish wise, the drinks oftentimes are garnished with mint and various fruit that is available. In many cases, I would just go for a slice or zest of the citrus fruit used in the drink, and utilize more should they be readily available or if the drink is being served in a fancy goblet.
2 ounces Spirit
1/2 ounce citrus juice
1/4 to 1/2 ounce pineapple Syrup, simple syrup, maraschino, Cointreau or other light colored cordial
Combine the ingredients in a glass filled with shaved or crushed ice. Swizzle with a barspoon or swizzle stick to give a frosty appearance to the drink. Garnish with fruits in season, mint, and optionally float some green Chartreuse on top
2 ounces Spirit
1/2 ounce citrus juice
1/4 to 1/2 ounce grenadine, creme de Cassis, or other dark fruit cordial
Combine the ingredients in a glass filled with shaved or crushed ice. Swizzle with a barspoon or swizzle stick to give a frosty appearance to the drink. Optionally top up with some sparkling water. For a layered effect, add the dark colored syrup after swizzling. Garnish with fruits in season, mint, and optionally float some yellow Chartreuse on top.
Craddock, Henry. 1999. The Savoy Cocktail Book. Originally published 1930. London: Pavilion Books.
Embury, David A. 2009. The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Originally published 1948. New York: Mud Puddle Books, Inc.
Thomas, Jerry. 1887. Bartender’s Guide. Reprint of original. New York: Dick and Fitzgerald.
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.