Ron A Nejo Bartender CornerIn this month's (July 2013) Bartender's Corner we will cover the history behind the Rum Sour, the Frappe and the Daiquiri.
From Rum Sour to Frappe to Daiquiri
People clamor for fame as much as for richness and, in the case of renowned cocktails, claiming their origin can become a matter of national pride. So it is with the Daiquiri, a cocktail undeniably born in Cuba (it is, after all, named after a Cuban mining town), but one whose inventor is either Cuban or American, depending on who tells the story. My research suggests the events leading to the birth of this iconic cocktail unfolded as follows:
The year was 1896, Cuba was in the middle of its war of independence from Spain, a war that would last another two years before the “liberation” was successful. American interests in the island nation were numerous. One such interest was in mining, as Cuba was (and still is) a rich source of raw minerals. American engineer Mr. Jennings Cox was supervising work at a tin mining operation in the town of Daiquiri, near Santiago de Cuba.
After a long day of arduous work at the mine, Mr. Cox joined a friend for an afternoon of camaraderie, cigars and cocktails. Some stories suggest his companion was a fellow American, Mr. Harry E. Stout, while other stories suggest he was a Cuban, Mr. Francisco D. Pagluichi, Commander of the Liberation Army. While fighting the Spanish to gain their independence, José Marti was also becoming increasingly worried about the threat of the Americans replacing the Spanish, claiming Cuba as their own territory. Marti’s fear was well known among his generals and commanders, so I find it hard to believe that Mr. Pagluichi would allow himself to be seen fraternizing with the American during the war, so I opt to believe instead that his companion on this momentous occasion was fellow American Mr. Stout.
Tired of drinking the ubiquitous Planter’s Punch of the era, the drinking companions called for some creole lemons, white rum, sugar and ice. They mixed the ingredients well and poured the cold drink into glasses, making what we know today as a Rum Sour. Pleased with the result and eager to repeat it, they baptized their creation and named it after the nearby mining town.
Back at their hotel in Santiago de Cuba, the defunct Hotel Venus (known at the time as the “American Hotel ”), they shared the recipe with the bartender, who promptly began making Daiquiris for all customers present. The drink gained popularity, not only at the Hotel Venus, but throughout the entire town of Santiago. A Spanish-born bartender by the name of Emilio Gonzales was visiting Santiago and heard about this new cocktail. He learned the recipe and took it back to Hotel Plaza in La Habana, where he further promoted the drink.
Mr. Gonzales then shared the recipe with his friend Mr. Constantino (Constance) Ribalaigua, who was the owner of “La Piña de Plata”, better known today as “El Floridita” (also known in the past as “La Florida”). Mr. Ribalaigua experimented with variations of the recipe until he came up with the new famous Daiquiri Frappe. His creation kept most of the original ingredients, but added maraschino and replaced creole lemons with limes. He also changed the elaboration method (added shaved ice) and the presentation, but out of respect for the original recipe, decided to keep the name “Daiquiri ”.