2 oz white rum
¾ oz lime juice
½ oz grapefruit juice
½ oz maraschino
Combine all ingredients in a shaker, if using raw sugar stir it with the citrus juice for 30 seconds first. Fill with ice and shake for 8-10 seconds and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Express the oils from a grapefruit peel, stir in with peel, and discard.
The popular backstory for this drink is it was a favorite Daiquiri variation of Ernest Hemingway, and one he personally specified while living in Cuba. But that is a bit of revisionist history. It’s true that Hemingway enjoyed Daiquiris with grapefruit and maraschino, and that he had a particular way he liked them, but that is not the recipe I have printed here. Hemingway liked Daiquiris with double the rum, double the citrus and without any sugar, a drink I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. As Jeff “Beachbum” Berry accurately puts it in his fantastic book, Potions of the Caribbean: “Hemingway…was an alcoholic. And alcoholics do not make good drinks. They make strong drinks.” Also, adding grapefruit and maraschino wasn't Hemingway's idea.
So let’s not worry about the historical details for now - I get into that further down the page - and just focus on making a good drink. If you use a reasonable amount of rum and balance it properly, this is a truly excellent cocktail. It might not surpass the magic of the original, but it does expand upon it, adding a layer of complexity and a hint of bitterness that more than earns the honor of bearing such a legendary title in its name: "Daiquiri".
If you make a Hemingway Daiquiri, let me see! Tag a photo with #socialhourcocktails on Instagram.
Balancing the Hemingway
Proper balance in a Hemingway Daiquiri is a matter of opinion (and I disagree with Hemingway's). I stand by the proportions I list here, but feel free to tweak them to find your personal perfect Hemingway.
The primary area of disagreement centers around the simple syrup and maraschino proportions. Some recipes leave simple syrup out entirely to preserve some measure of Hemingway’s original preferences. But as I alluded to above, I am less concerned with that. I think simple syrup is essential. It helps to soften the sharply pungent maraschino and build a bridge between it and the citrus.
I still like the maraschino to have a very present flavor, which is why I use ½ an ounce. But if you find that too overbearing - many do - you might want to invert the simple syrup and maraschino proportions, so there’s just a hint of maraschino in the background.
I prefer a rich simple syrup - or better yet a heavy teaspoon of raw sugar dissolved right into the citrus juice - because the drink comes out a little more concentrated and with a better body. But that’s definitely splitting hairs. Plain 1:1 simple syrup is great too.
Agricole rhum as the base of a Hemingway is not traditional in any way, but it is fantastic, if you're an agricole fan that is. I may even prefer it. The grapefruit and maraschino are natural pairings for that fresh grassy funkiness. Agricole is great in all the frozen recipes below as well.
History of the Hemingway:
Havana, El Floridita, and Bartender Telephone
The Hemingway Daiquiri wasn’t invented by anyone; it was a collective and inadvertent effort by Ernest Hemingway himself, a famed Cuban bartender and the bartending world at large.
Hemingway spent a lot of time in Havana, Cuba, he even lived there for a time, moving in 1938 from Key West to escape the tourists seeking him out. In addition to writing, he did a phenomenal amount of drinking there. One of his favorite spots to do so was La Florida Bar, or El Floridita as the locals affectionately called it, which was a seafood and cocktail joint situated in the older part of the city. Today, the bar’s slogan printed on its sign, is “la cuna del daiquiri”, the cradle of the daiquiri.
Daiquiris 1, 2, 3 &4
The bar was run, and eventually owned, by a masterful barman, Constantino Ribialigua Vert, commonly known as Constante or by his more regal title “The Cocktail King”. Constante put particular focus on the Daiquiri - which was invented just before the turn of the century and had been gaining popularity ever since - you can read that story here. Constante is often credited with perfecting the Daiquiri, but he didn't stop there. Among the many options on his menu, was a series of Daiquiri variations. There was the classic Daiquiri #1, the Daiquiri #2 with added orange juice and curaçao (I use a 1/4 oz of each), the Daiquiri #3 with grapefruit juice and maraschino served frappé (frozen) over snow ice, and finally, the Daiquiri #4 (aka Floridita Daiquiri today) which was made in a blender and supplemented only with maraschino. Speaking of blenders, which emerged in the 1930s, Constante is also widely recognized for being the one who introduced the world to the Frozen Daiquiri, which for many is its more recognizable form.
As I said above, Hemingway took his Daiquiris with altered proportions, and Constante’s variants receive the same treatment. One of his reported favorites was the Daiquiri #3, only with double the rum, double the lime juice, triple the grapefruit juice and no sugar (the maraschino was left untouched). This jumbo modified version became known as the Papa Doble, (Papa was a local nickname for Hemingway). It is said he once knocked back a whopping 15 of these in a day. Over time, thanks to Hemingway's celebrity and glamorized drinking habits, the drink became world renowned, despite not being very good. In the 1939 edition of the Floridita souvenir recipe booklet - which Constante had been putting out since 1934 - an E. Hemingway Special appeared alongside the other Daiquiri recipes, which was literally the Daiquiri #3 but with no sugar. As Berry says, “Jennings Cox may have invented the Daiquiri, and Constante may have perfected it, but it was Hemingway who sold it to the world.”
Side note, I am well aware that many defend Hemingway for his sugarless cocktails because he was a diabetic. True, he did get diabetes, as his father did before him. But I don’t think it’s as cut and dry as that. My research indicates he contracted it later in life, and partially because of drinking, not just sugar intake. Also, I can’t help but think that a man who drank as much as Hemingway did, wasn't spending too much time worrying about his health.
The Modern Hemingway
The chain of bartender telephone brought the Hemingway Daiquiri to where it is today. It’s easy to understand why Hemingway's name stuck as the preferred moniker for a Daiquiri with maraschino and grapefruit - it sounds far more compelling than Daiquiri #3. And it’s also no wonder why skilled bartenders ignored Papa’s personal modifications, restoring some sugar and lowering the rum. Drinks without any sugar just don’t taste very good, and 4 ounces of rum is plain absurd. As for how it went from a frozen frappé drink to shaken with ice and served straight up, if I had to guess, I’d say it was an attempt to class things up.
When the modern cocktail revival began - following the dark ages of the late 1960s through the late 1980s (Mudslide anyone?) - bartenders were looking to imbue cocktails with dignity. This was largely done by excavating and elevating drinks from past eras. But blender cocktails didn’t fit the look. They were seen as symbols of where things went wrong in the first place (anyone? we’ve got Mudslides here!). So the Hemingway Daiquiri, which otherwise bore all the traits of an appealing vintage quaff, was taken out the blender and put in chilled a coupe, where it has remained ever since. In the end, I think it’s an upgrade. It makes the drink more accessible and gives it that “classic” stature. That's not to say there's anything wrong with the original frozen version. If you yourself in the sweltering Havana heat, or something similar, by all means, throw it in a blender using this recipe below. Admittedly, it’s a bit different than Constante’s. If you find maraschino’s flavor to be overbearing, scale it back to ¼ oz and up the simple syrup to ¾ oz.
Daiquiri #3 (aka Frozen Hemingway)
2 oz white rum
½ oz lime
½ oz grapefruit
½ oz maraschino
½ oz simple syrup
Combine in a blender and add about 1½ cups of ice.
Blend on high for 8-10 seconds until the consistency is smooth.
Pour into the vessel of your choosing. Serve with a wide straw.
Floridita Daiquiri, aka Daiquiri #4 Served up
Another cocktail you may run into is called simply the La Floridita Daiquiri. Confused? I don’t blame you. None of Constante's old booklets list a drink under this name, much less a daiquiri variation. It appears to be another case, like the Hemingway Daiquiri, of Constante's recipes being printed a book under a different name and having it catch on (again, numbered cocktails just don’t have the same ring to them). Most recipes for the Floridita Daiquiri are either in line with either the Daiquiri #3 - which would make a Floridita Daiquiri and Hemingway Daiquiri interchangeable - or, more commonly, the Daiquiri #4, with just maraschino. The latter is the once I use, a Daiquiri with maraschino is darn good and the Hemingway has already taken the #3 slot.
As I said above, like the #3 Constante’s #4 daiquiri was originally blended and frozen. Concurrently, like today’s Hemingway Daiquiri, the Floridita Daiquiri is often as shaken and served straight up (though some recipes do still call for a blender). I like it in a coupe for the same reason I like the Hemingway in one. This is the recipe I use. If you find the flavor of maraschino is too oppressive - some do, I personally love it - scale it back to ½ teaspoon. For the traditional frozen version - which is also delicious, use the recipe for the #3/Frozen Hemingway above but remove the grapefruit.
2 oz white rum
¾ oz lime juice
¾ oz simple syrup
1 teaspoon maraschino
Combine all ingredients in a shaker, fill with ice. Shake for 8-10 seconds and strain into a chilled fine strain (optional) coupe glass. No garnish necessary.