Daiquiri Cocktail

By Robert Hess

The daiquiri is a historic and iconic cocktail and John F. Kennedy's favorite cocktail. It's simplicity disguises what can be a complex and delicious cocktail when made correctly.

Recipe

How to Make a Classic Daiquiri Cocktail

2 oz rum

1/2 oz lime juice

3/4 oz simple syrup

Instructions

Shake with ice.

Strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish with lime wheel.

Comments
Robert Hess 17 Aug 2007
8:03 am

These days it seems like most people think of the Daiquiri as being a “frozen” drink, which is unfortunate. Those drinking it that way are missing out on a great drink, and those who are “wanting” a great drink are avoiding it because they don’t like frozen drinks.

You can use the Daiquiri to get a good handle on the whole “balance” thing with the lime juice and the simple syrup. Just play around with the ratios a bit until you feel that it isn’t too sweet or too sour for your palate. One thing I’ve learned is that the sweet/sour balance really does tend to vary from one person to another.

-Robert

Bikram 16 Dec 2007
8:59 am

Robert, Do you think that the Vodka added to the simple syrup actually makes a difference? The effective concentration of alcohol would be pretty low, and fungi can tolerate reasonably high levels of alcohol since they produce it themselves. You can try a side by side test (with and without the vodka) to test your hypothesis.

Robert Hess 18 Dec 2007
1:14 pm

I’ve never done a true scientific “side-by-side” test on this, but I have simply noticed that without alcohol, mold. With alcohol, no mold. But you’re right, I should try to get some more data. Would also be good to find out how much alcohol is needed and how long the ‘protection’ lasts (wrt. alcohol evaporation)

Jonathan Gorman 25 Dec 2007
1:56 pm

Robert,
What is the right proportions for simple syrup?  I’ve seen 1 pound sugar (about 2 cups) to 1 cup water - and 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water.

Robert Hess 25 Dec 2007
2:54 pm

There are essentially two main recipes people tend to use for simple syrup, either a 1 part sugar and 1 part water (by volume), or 2 parts sugar to 1 part water.

Obviously the second results in a sweeter syrup, it is often refered to as “rich” simple syrup.

Which you choose to use can be a bit of a personal choice. I personally prefer the 2-to-1 version myself. But I have several friends who swear by the 1-to-1 version.

-Robert

Jonathan Gorman 25 Dec 2007
3:38 pm

When you specify simple syrup in your instructions, are you using 1:1 or 2:1?

Merry Christmas.

Thomas 28 Jan 2008
6:31 pm

Robert, I also notice that your syrup is tan.  What kind of sugar do you use to make it? 

And I salute you atop your Soap Box regarding sour mix.  Good speech!

Robert Hess 29 Jan 2008
7:19 am

We get so much lovely sunshine here in Seattle that lots of things take on that wonderful tan color.

Ok, maybe not :->

Actually I used “Demerara” (aka. raw cane) sugar to make my simple syrup for this episode. I find that it has just a little bit of extra character to it.

-Robert

Owen Webb 29 Jan 2008
1:51 pm

I’m a little confused by your comments regarding simply syrup.  In the episode you say you use a 1:1 ratio. Here in the comments you say you prefer to use a 2:1 ratio.  When you use simply syrup in the episodes, are you giving us the recipe for 1:1 syrup or the richer 2:1 syrup.

Thanks,
Owen

Robert Hess 29 Jan 2008
2:16 pm

Owen,

Good catch… as I was rattling off at the mouth I should have said “two cups of sugar” instead of one. I personally prefer to use a 2:1 ratio in my syrup.

Which of course raises another issue as to if “you” might happen to prefer the 1:1 ratio, how does that alter your drink? Well as you might expect it won’t be “quite” as sweet, and so you may need to slightly adjust the recipe to your palate, which is part of what makes “mixology” such a fun thing because we are each providing our own slight interpretation of a drink every time we make it.

Thomas 2 Feb 2008
9:24 pm

I can see the dense Seattle rainforest outside your window there, so I knew you were joking about the sun. 

I recently tried finely granulated raw sugar in some bar syrup and it turned out kind of greenish.  The coarser dememera or turbinado sugar you suggest here creates a better color.  And a touch of molasses odor (but not flavor). 

Thanks for the tips!

blair frodelius 8 Mar 2008
12:54 pm

Robert,

Granted, we all should be using fresh squeezed juices and simple syrup when making a daquiri.  Have you had any experience with the Freshies brand?

Robert Hess 8 Mar 2008
11:16 pm

I’ve never tried Freshies, but I personally can’t imagine any “mix” product being even close to fresh ingredients, except in very few cases and situations.

Jon 25 Jul 2008
7:42 pm

Robert,

I absolutely love your series here. After watching a number of episodes, I decided to come back to this one to ask a question about your simple syrup. Exactly how much vodka do you add to keep it from molding? I’m afraid that I will add too much and have my drinks hint of vodka, or that I will add too little for it to be effective.

Robert Hess 26 Jul 2008
5:47 am

Jon,

To add enough vodka so you could taste the alcohol (since that is of course the only flavor that would come through) you’d have to add quite a bit. I use perhaps one ounce (or perhaps a little more) of vodka per pint of simple syrup. And I use a 151 proof vodka just for good measure. I’ve never tried any exhaustive tests to find out what the best amount to use is, but this appears to work fine for me.

-Robert

Ivana 12 Mar 2009
9:01 am

Robert,
I am a bit confused here. On your drinkboy.com site, recipe for daiquiri calls for 1oz lime juice to one teaspoon sugar.
In this video you do 1/2 oz lime juice to 3/4 oz (rich?) sugar syrup. Isn`t this too much of a difference?

Thanks,
Ivana

Robert Hess 12 Mar 2009
10:22 am

Ivana,
Great Point! What this shows, is a gradual evolution that each of us will go through on our cocktailian journey. Many of the recipes on my website were ones I put up when I first started the site over 10 years ago. Over the years, many of my thoughts on what makes a “great” cocktail, and more importantly, a properly “balanced” cocktail, have evolved, and while I mentally make the adjustment when making these cocktails, I haven’t been as dilligent as I could be at making sure that all of the reicpes on my site are evolving along with me…

In the past it was very difficult for me to change recipes on my site, since to change just a single page on the site would essentially necessitate an entire day’s worth of work. But with the recent update to DrinkBoy.com, I’ve set it up so I can just make a simple update in the database, and the changes are automatically visible… so if you look now, the recipe has been updated! :->

What I really need to do, is just take the time to go through each recipe, one at a time, and make them as-indicated, and verify that they still reflect what I feel is a well balanced drink.

Ivana 12 Mar 2009
11:23 am

Thanks for the clarification. I`ve made 5 daiquiris so far and I can`t make up my mind which one is “properly balanced” for my inexperienced palate :)
Good luck on your site updates!

Robert Hess 12 Mar 2009
12:51 pm

For all cocktails, a key aspect of balance is so that as you are finishing off the drink, you wish the glass were “just a litlte” larger. Sometimes, if a drink is too sweet or too sour, the initial sip can be quite tasty, with your taste buds enjoying that extra little kick of flavor, but by the time you are finishing the drink you are getting a little fatigued from it. That, in my mind, is an unbalanced drink.

David B. 5 Jun 2009
11:45 am

The Daiquiri has quickly become a favorite when entertaining at my home bar.  Recently I’ve started using Key Limes instead of the regular Persian Limes with good success.  You have to be careful to not let any of the pith or the seeds make their way into the drink but if you can manage you’ll get a really nice treat.

Alan 27 Jul 2011
3:43 pm

I usually drink Havana Club 3yr and have always used that for drinks such as this. Recently I splashed out on Appleton Estate 8yr and my was I overwhelmed. Hugh difference and I struggled with the drink a bit. I’m not sure if a darker and older aged rum such as that is suitable for a drink like this or if I just have to tinker with the ratios to find a suitable one.

Robert Hess 28 Jul 2011
6:37 am

Havana Club 3 year… don’t rub in in. We can’t (easily) get that here in the US :->

Rum is a facinating topic. There is a far broader landscape in rum “character” then I think in any of the other spirits, so it can often be challenging (and exciting) to see how different rums work in different cocktails. The Daiquiri I think is one of the drinks that benefits from a lighter style rum, but that said, it can also work well with some of the slightly more robust rums, but you’ll want to start flexing the recipe around to make it work properly.

When you find any tried and true recipe of yours that suddenly becomes less palatable due to a change of brand/product, you should start playing around with the ratios of the ingredients to see if you can bring it back into line again. Through experimentations like this you’ll really gain a better understanding of the underlying components.

Gaz Regan tells of a time he was at the Ritz in New York, and Norman was bartending. He noticed various customers ordering a Manhattan and specifically calling for a particular whiskey. In each one Norman would use a different amount of vermouth. When asked about it, Norman commented that each whiskey needed a slightly different ratio in order to make it properly balanced.

-Robert

Alan 28 Jul 2011
8:34 am

Thanks for the reply. Yeah I think I’d have to agree that sometimes with a different spirit you need to adjust the ratios. Havana 3yr to Appleton 8yr is quite a leap in flavour.

I can happily report that after many years of Barcardi dominating the market Havana Club has now found its way into many bars, off-licenses and supermarkets. It has seemingly succeeded on name alone since there is very little advertising and marketing versus the former’s massive campaigns.

If it is of any consolation, here in Ireland it can be very hard to get good American whiskey - many supermarkets and off-licenses usually only stock Jim Beam or Jack Daniels and if you find Maker’s Mark anywhere it’s usually at least €35! That isn’t to say I can’t get hold of bourbons but the cheapest other than the previously mentioned that I can find is Bulleit which is €30.

Tequilla is another spirit that can be hard to come by. I mean, you can of course get Olmeca as well as Jose Cuervo mixtos in many places and unfortunately this is most people’s introduction to tequilla. 100% can be hard to find and when you do find it is quite expensive. See: http://celticwhiskeyshop.com/Other_Spirits__drinks/Tequila/A_to_z_of_Tequila-category-24-distillery-24-z-distillery.htm

jellydonut 16 Aug 2011
7:29 am

In honor of National Rum Day (even though I’m not American), I made this with;

- 1 1/2 oz Ron Cubay 10 Anejo ten year old Cuban rum, very strong flavor
- juice of one lime (no, when I’m at home I refuse to measure it and thus throwing away some of the juice of the lime. :p)
- equal part of sweet to sour, in this case I used home-made honey syrup. (simple syrup.. with honey instead of sugar)
- The Bitter Truth aromatic bitters, one dash
- The Bitter Truth orange bitters.. at least four dashes. I just poured a little. dripdripdrip.

You can tell your daiquiri is a classic when it’s *brown* from the aged rum and the honey syrup instead of being fluorescent green from commercial sour mix. ^_^ It’s not a very strong drink, you can see my non-alcoholic ingredients are at least equal to the alcohol. Call me whatever you like, I don’t care. :p

I’m not looking to get drunk on a Tuesday so I’ll be making a Rum Old Fashioned later on, to continue celebrating National Rum Day. c:

Ben Golden 20 Jul 2012
7:16 pm

The use of commercial sour mix is extremely frustrating to me.  Whenever I order a drink at a regular old neighborhood restaurant, I usually have to avoid sour style drinks because I know they will be made with sour mix, which makes me feel kind of sick just drinking it.  That’s an incredible shame because sour style drinks are among my favorite kinds, and they tend to go well with meals if properly made, as opposed to dry style French-Italian drinks (e.g. Martinis and Manhattans) which I tolerate best before dinner or well after it, but not during.

We’ve seen bans on trans-fat foods, wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could get the same to happen with artificial sour mix? :-D

Peter_Timms 2 Aug 2012
3:47 am

Brilliant.

Martin OK 22 Aug 2013
7:44 am

Dear Robert,

First of all, thank you for these outstanding videos. In conjunction with your excellent book, I have been thoroughly enjoying my forays into the homemade cocktail world (and so have my friends, incidentally).

I was wondering what your thoughts were on pre-made simple syrups. I haven’t made my own yet, but have often used Monin sugar syrup. I find that this works well for some drinks, but they don’t deliver as nicely on the sours.

Does this have to do with the ratios they employ? If you would have to use a pre-made simple syrup, which would you recommend?

Thank you again for all your informative and exciting videos.

All the best from the UK -
Martin

Robert Hess 24 Aug 2013
11:43 pm

Martin,

Regarding “pre-made” simple syrup… the only time I use them is in those very rare cases where I can’t seem to find any sugar on hand. Simple syrup is SO easy to make, and you then have complete control over the sugar ratio so relying on some unknown ratio is not an issue.

The standard simple syrup that most bars use is a plain 1-to-1 ratio. just fill a bottle half full with water, then fill the rest with sugar and give it a good solid shake for about 30 seconds. The level will settle down a bit, so add a little more water, then shake again for about 30 seconds or so. Now let it sit for a few minutes and use it as you wish. It might still be just a little cloudy, but that will diminish over the next few minutes.

There is also the notion of “rich” simple syrup, which you have seen me use on the show a few times. You can’t really use the cold water method here, but instead you put one cup of water into a saucepan, bring it to a simmer, add two cups of water, and stir until fully dissolved. Allow to cool, and you are ready to go.

Then there is what is known as “rock candy” syrup. This I believe is usually a 4-to-1 ratio (1 cup water, 4 cups sugar) which you also need to do at a simmer. It takes a little longer to get fully dissolved, but you end up with a fairly dense sugar syrup. They call it “rock candy” because if once it is cooled you dangle a cotton string in it, the sugar will crystalize on the string and form a solid piece of sugar (aka. rock candy).

-Robert

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