The Hemingway Special Daiquiri

     There are daiquiris, and then there’s the Hemingway Special Daiquiri. I had heard references to this drink, and tracking down the true recipe has been a challenge. He was such a legendary character; I found it difficult to separate fact from fiction and myth. I wanted not only find information about the drink but also about Hemingway. What I’ve attempted to do is to glean consistent generalities in the writings about this larger-than-life man. My result is hopefully more truth than not.

     There seemed to be a general consensus in what I’ve read that his favorite drink was a very dry martini. The daiquiri seemed to be his drink of choice when he lived in Cuba. Regarding Hemingway’s introduction to the daiquiri, it happened quite by chance. He was essentially bar-hopping one day. He believed, if you wanted to discover what a country was all about, to not “bother with churches, government buildings or city squares. To really discover their culture, spend some time in its bars.”

     He was seeking a bathroom and ended up in the El Floridita Bar in Havana. Being an affable sort, he began talking to the locals. They talked him into trying one of El Floridita’s five different versions of the daiquiri. He generally liked it, but he thought it was too sweet and not strong enough. He recommended his drink be mixed without sugar and with twice the amount of rum. This version became known as the “Papa Doble.” Later some grapefruit juice and a bit of Maraschino Liqueur were added.

Regular Daiquiri

A Regular Daiquiri is a simple drink. Few ingredients are needed:

     2 oz. of white rum

     1 oz. of fresh lime juice

     1-2 tsp. of simple syrup (I use 2 tsp. of powdered sugar instead for a mellower taste)

Add to a cocktail shaker, and either stir 30 revolutions or shake for 20 seconds (my favorite).

Strain into an appropriate glass that’s been chilled, and garnish with a lime wheel (optional). 

Hemingway’s Special Daiquiri

The Hemingway’s Special Daiquiri (strong and tart version) is a bit more complicated:

     2 oz. of white rum (for a Papa Doble make that 4 oz.)

     3/4 oz. fresh lime juice

     1/2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice

Add to a cocktail shaker, and either stir 30 revolutions or shake for 20 seconds.

Strain into an appropriate glass that’s been chilled, and garnish with a lime wheel (optional). 

Options: For a sweeter version, add 1/2 oz. Maraschino Liqueur and/or 2 tsp. of powdered sugar. A Maraschino Cherry can also be added for a bit of a feminine touch.

Hemingway portrait

     It should be noted that, while Hemingway was notoriously fond of drinking, he did not indulge when he was working. “When asked in an interview if rumors of him taking a pitcher of martinis to work every morning were true, he answered, “Jeezus Christ! Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You’re thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes, – and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he’s had his first one. Besides, who in hell would mix more than one martini at a time?”

     He liked to write in the mornings. A typical “Working day” would start about 6 AM and finish about noon. Sometimes he would write in bed, but most of the time, he would type standing up with his typewriter about chest level, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. He would stop each writing session at the peak of his creativity. He thought this practice would carry him through into the next day and make it easier to start.

     I remarked in my beginning comments that it was hard to separate fact from fiction and myth. While the man is an enigma, when it comes to a daiquiri, the actual proof is in the tasting. That’s the ultimate reality.