Consider the Daiquiri

Rum enthusiast Michael Shea revives a very misunderstood classic cocktail.

By Rachel Ritchie March 21, 2013

LOCAL TWISTS: Put some Portland spirit into your daiquiri with Bull Run Distillery’s Pacific Rum or New Deal Distillery’s Workshop White Rum.

Image: Nomad

Hold on. Before you protest, lend an ear: we speak not of the blended strawberry abominations you’ll find poolside in Las Vegas. No, a true daiquiri bears almost no resemblance to such imposters. A true daiquiri is a classic—it belongs in the cocktail hall of fame, right alongside the martini and the manhattan, and it deserves your attention. 

As the Rum Club’s Michael Shea explains simply, a daiquiri is “rum, lime, and sugar, shaken hard and served up.” That’s it: two ounces rum, one ounce lime juice, three-quarters of an ounce simple syrup, and you can’t go wrong. But, as with any classic, the formula is both an archetype and a springboard for tinkering. Hemingway, for instance, preferred his daiquiris with grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur in place of sugar. (He also preferred them as doubles, and was known for downing dozens in a single sitting.) With slight adjustments, homing in on your own tailored version à la Hemingway should be a pleasant exercise. 

First, experiment with different proportions and white rums—a few of Shea’s favorites are Chairman’s Reserve, Bacardi Heritage, and Banks 5 Island, all of which deliver the requisite body for a good backbone of flavor. Next, take your simple syrup up a notch by using demerara or palm sugar for a little tropical terroir. If you’re feeling bold, see what a little Bénédictine does, or a drop or two of Herbsaint, or a few dashes of bitters.

In short, the daiquiri is your playground—refreshing, sour, and endlessly entertaining. The Rum Club’s signature version, deeper and richer than the original but still zippy on the palate, is an exhilarating discovery you’re unlikely to grow tired of. There’s a good reason it’s Shea’s favorite way to cap a night behind the bar.  

Image: Nomad

Rum Club Daiquiri

  • 2 oz Bacardi 8 rum
  • ¾ oz fresh-squeezed lime juice  
  • ½ oz demerara syrup
    (2:1 demerara sugar to water)  
  • ¼ oz maraschino liqueur
    (Shea recommends Maraska) 
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters 
  • 8 drops absinthe

(1) COMBINE all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker.
(2) SHAKE hard for six seconds and strain into a coupe.

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