There are few things that put the spring in our collective summertime step like good, cool, simple cocktails that aren't too syrupy sweet. First among equals in that group, for me at least, is the classic Hemingway daiquiri.
I was first introduced to the Hemingway upon reading Papa Hemingway by Hemingway's pal and eventual biographer, A.E. Hotchner.
He describes his first meeting with Hemingway in the late 40s at the Florida bar in Havana. He says it really was named the Florida, “that was the proper name, but everybody called it the Floridita.”
"The Hemingway daiquiri, or Papa Doble. Requested by most tourists, a Papa Doble was compounded of two and a half jiggers of Bacardi White Label Rum, the juice of two limes and half a grapefruit, and six drops of maraschino, all placed in an electric mixer over shaved ice, whirled vigorously and served foaming in large goblets."
Unlike so many other pre-fab summer drink concoctions like the terrible Margaritas and Mai Tais too many of us are forced to imbibe at summer parties and on booze cruises, a classic and proper Hemingway daiquiri is never too sweet.
Its basic recipe of fresh juice, rum, and maraschino liqueur still remains refreshing more than 80 years since first seeing the light of day at the Florida bar in Havana.
Hemingway once famously said, “I drink to make other people more interesting.”
Aside from that—and yes, it was a killer line—he also seemed to enjoy drinking with interesting literary people like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein; artists like Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso; and actors like Spencer Tracy. But that was a great line.
Hemingway, Spencer Tracy and others at the Florida Bar in Havana
The Hemingway daiquiri is always better with fresh ingredients. Always. Do yourself a favor and use fresh squeezed grapefruit juice whenever possible, and please—always use freshly-squeezed lime juice. It’s so easy to squeeze two limes…there is no excuse not to do it.
Some sloppy writers who have just cobbled together bits and pieces from the internets will say that Hemingway “bragged” to have had up to 12 double Hemingways, or Papa Dobles.
That’s pretty weak. In Papa Hemingway Hotchner relates that the record was actually 16 Papa Dobles. The bartender at The Florida supported Papa (of course) in this claim.
Hotchner discovered that when Hemingway finally arrived for their first meeting, his daiquiris were served in giant glasses much larger than those served to the tourists.
Hemingway proceeded to order a daiquiri that arrived in a gigantic, vase-like goblet twice as big as Hotchner's.
"Made a run of sixteen here one night," Papa Hemingway informed Hotch.
"This size?" asked an incredulous Hothchner.
"House record," confirmed the loyal barman at the Florida.
VCH Hemingway Daiquiri Recipe:
Bacardi Superior Rum, about 2.5 ounce or to taste
Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, 1/2 ounce
Lime Juice, 4 teaspoons (roughly two juiced limes)
White Grapefruit Juice, 2 ounces
Mix in a shaker with crushed ice — shake well, pour
into an appropriate vase-like glass