To help celebrate National Daiquiri Day we provide a quick history of the cocktail along with two of its most famous renditions – the Hemingway Daiquiri and Simon Difford’s best daiquiri recipe.

History attributes the daiquiri to Jennings Cox, an American mining engineer working near the town of Daiquiri, Cuba. As legend has it, Cox ran out of gin one day in 1898 and reached for a bottle of the local rum. To make it more palatable, he added juice of freshly squeezed limes, some sugar, and mineral water.

handwritten recipe card of a daiquiri recipe

His original recipe, shown above, is a batched cocktail for six servings. He calls for lemons, but it is a mistranslation of the Spanish word for lime (lemon). Cox’s original recipe became a local hit, and was soon popularized by the US Navy.

Hemingway would fall in love with the daiquiri. He created his eponymous version over several sessions with the bartender at the Hotel El Floridita in Havana. Favoring a drier style, Hemingway replaced the sugar with maraschino liqueur and fresh squeezed grape fruit juice. Thus was born the Hemingway Daiquiri.

  • 2 oz white rum oz lime juice
  • ¾ oz lime juice
  • ½ oz maraschino liqueur
  • ½ oz grapefruit juice

Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake until well chilled. Double strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a wheel of lime.

Hemingway daiquiri garnished with a lime wheel served in a glass


Many prefer a sweeter version of this cocktail, closer to Cox’s original recipe. The proportions of spirit, citrus, and sugar have been adjusted over the years as tastes have evolved. Famed bartender Simon Difford has explored the ratios of the key ingredients to create a daiquiri for today’s tastes.

  • 2 oz light rum
  • 2/3 oz lime juice
  • 2 bar spoons sugar

No history of the daiquiri can be complete without mentioning that it was a favorite of the Kennedys. President John Kennedy celebrated his presidential election victory with a daiquiri made by his wife. Jackie Kennedy’s recipe was said to have been taped to the kitchen wall of the withe house. Here it is:

  • 2 oz light rum
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 3 drops Falernum liqueur
  • 2 oz frozen limeade concentrate

Interesting here is the use of Falernum in place of simple syrup (perhaps a source for Gregor de Gruyther’s Nuclear Daiquiri?) and the use of frozen limeade concentrate – perhaps anticipating the frozen daiquiri craze.

Try each of these recipes yourself and feel free to do your own experimentation. Just remember – National Daiquiri Day comes but once a year.

…brick sandwiches consisting of two pieces of bread with brick between are set out on the counter, in derision of the state law that prohibits the serving of drinks without ‘meals.’  Jacob Riis (1902)

In late May, as Napa and Sonoma counties began allowing tasting rooms to reopen, the California Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) established new rules requiring wineries and distilleries to provide a bona-fide meal with a tasting. The tasting fee and food purchase had to be rung up on the same ticket, even though the distillery wasn’t licensed to sell food and the food provider often wasn’t licensed to sell spirits.

The California ABC soon realized that the food requirement was unsustainable and quickly abandoned it. However, Alameda County Board of Health resurrected the rule, insisting that a meal must be purchased with a tasting. By implementing the food requirement, the County prevented a number of tasting rooms from reopening – even with outdoor seating.

The Alameda County food requirement is not new. Rules requiring food with alcohol service date back to the temperance movement in the late 19th century. The most famous of these is the Raines law, sponsored by Assemblyman John Raines and passed into New York law in 1896. It attempted to curb the consumption of alcoholic beverages on Sundays by prohibiting its sale except in establishments that offered meal service. The intent was to restrict the working class’s access to drink by closing establishments on their only day off (few workers could afford a costly restaurant meal). However, the law still allowed Sunday access to the more affluent members of society.

But human ingenuity can be more powerful than any law. Bars quickly responded to the Raines law by creating cheap, throw away sandwiches that would become known as the Raines Sandwich. At first, the Raines Sandwich was two pieces of stale bread with an inexpensive filler. Later, the filler was replaced by reusable rubber, and finally the whole sandwich became reusable. They were offered with the drink and then recycled for the next customer.

The new rules that Alameda County is imposing is meant to reduce the number of distilleries that you can visit in a day. They confuse the exploration and tasting of spirits with a pub crawl. The health department believes that tasters will hop from distillery to distillery and spread the corona virus wherever they go.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. A tasting combines entertainment and education to an interested public and takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to complete. Few people plan for more than two visits in a single outing. In fact, Livermore Valley has only two distilleries! In our experience, tasting is not a pub crawl.

Maybe it’s time to bring back the Raines Sandwich.

Today marks the start of Bourbon Heritage Month. Celebrated each September, Bourbon Heritage Month highlights this authentic American spirit from the South.

Bourbon didn’t start out as the American spirit. Before the revolution, rum from Britain’s trade in molasses dominated our drinking. However, starting with the Boston Tea Party in 1773 and continuing through the revolution, Americans left rum for an American spirit – and that was whiskey made from rye.

Rye was the most planted grain in the American colonies, especially in Pennsylvania. This led to the Pennsylvania, or Monongahela, style of rye whiskey (no corn). Farther south in Maryland where some corn was grown, they developed the Maryland style of high rye with some corn. This sweeter, Maryland style was the mash bill George Washington used for his whiskey production.

In 1791, congress passed the whiskey tax – a levy on distilled grain spirits – to help pay off the debt from the revolution. The whiskey task took a toll on production, especially in Pennsylvania. However, Kentucky was exempt from the tax. A number of distillers pulled up stakes and moved to Kentucky. Here, corn was cheap and plentiful. Kentucky Bourbon was born.

Still, rye whiskey remained the preferred style in the United States until prohibition. When prohibition ended, foreign whiskey flooded our markets. Because domestic producers didn’t have any aged store of whiskey available, the only way to compete was in cost of production. Corn-based bourbon whiskey could be made much cheaper than rye – and now you know how bourbon became the national drink. Today, Bourbon outsells rye whiskey by ten to one, although small-batch rye is starting to make a comeback.

An American whiskey can be labeled bourbon as long as the mash bill contains at least 51% corn and the distillate is aged in new, charred American oak barrels. Some distillers use the minimum corn and bring up the complexity with barley, wheat, or rye. Other distillers emphasize the sweetness of corn.

There are quite a few high-quality offerings available right now, each with a different mash bill or aging program. This is a good month to explore the world of bourbon whiskey and discover why bourbon remains America’s spirit.