WellUrban

Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Drink of the month: Daiquiri

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A daiquiri at Sweet Mother's KitchenIt's well into November now, of course, but there was the small matter of 11 posts on architecture to get out before the end of today, so here's the belated drink of the month post. After several months of wine, spirits and even non-alcoholic beverages, it's time to get back to cocktails with one of the best-known concoctions from tropical climes: the Daiquiri.

In its classic form, the Daiquiri is almost simple: just rum, lime juice and sugar syrup. But as is so often the case with cocktails, simplicity does not always equate to ease or reliability, and you're likely to run across many mediocre and even undrinkable versions in your quest for perfection. That's partly due to the existence of often confusing variations, but can mostly be put down to a question of balance. It's even more of an issue with a Daiquiri than it is with a Martini, since while the flavours of gin and vermouth are known qualities, lime can vary with the source and season. Locally, we seem to have gone through a bad run with limes, resulting in many tooth-enamel-stripping drinks in places that should know better.

I mentioned confusing variations, and one thing that clouds the issue is the fact that the so-called "Hemingway Daiquiri" is usually some way on a spectrum between two versions: the Papa Doble and the Hemingway Special. The former doubles the rum and omits the sugar; while the latter also adds grapefruit juice and maraschino. Between all these variations, it's very hard to know what you'll receive, so it may be best to specify the exact ingredients and proportions to your taste (if you can do this without feeling patronising).

Regular readers will know that I don't have a sweet tooth, and that I can be a stickler for tradition, so you'll no doubt expect me to either ignore or excoriate the slew of alcoholic slushies known as frozen Daiquiris. But you'll be wrong: some occasions call for one to abandon one's inhibitions and good taste and embrace the tackiness. As the silly season of office parties and barbeques approaches, go ahead and raid the greengrocers for tropical fruit; go mad with blenders and crushers; and even (if you can mention the phrase without sniggering) buy a packet of rimming sugar. If you want to maintain a shred of dignity, though, go easy on the sugar, use fresh ingredients where possible, and remember that you still should be able to taste the rum.

So, where to sample the Daiquiri in all its glory? Any place with a Latin American theme should have quite a range: Flying Burrito Brothers and Havana spring to mind, and I'll have to give Buena Vista Social Club another go to see how they're faring these days. Good Luck and Imbibe have been known to feature interesting variations, and the usual suspects (Matterhorn, Motel, Hawthorn Lounge) should all deliver good classic versions (though I have to admit that my last Hemingway Daiquiri there was a bit tart for my taste). For the flamboyantly cheesy (though hopefully not literally!) fruit Daiquiris, I suspect that the likes of Electric Avenue and Boogie Wonderland would have wide ranges of sticky retro concoctions. If there are any other places out there that are notable for the quality or uniqueness of their Daiquiris, please let us know.

12 Comments:

At 8:56 am, November 06, 2007, Blogger Baz said...

I was hoping you'd make "rimming sugar" two links...

 
At 10:05 am, November 06, 2007, Blogger Stephen said...

Well, this reveals me for the cocktail noob I am, because I had no idea there was any other kind than the frozen kiddies' drink.

Rum + lime + sugar? So my beloved caipirinha is just a Brazilian daiquiri then?

 
At 10:12 am, November 06, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Sort of. A caipirinha is usually served with roughly crushed ice, muddled limes and raw sugar, whereas a daiquiri is made with sugar syrup (or fine sugar that thoroughly dissolves during the mixing process) and is served straight up.

I've seen the daiquiri described as a whiskey sour made with rum, but a better description might be as a variation on a Gimlet, since one of the legends has it that an American mining engineer used rum when he ran out of gin.

 
At 1:29 pm, November 06, 2007, Blogger Hadyn said...

What about the type of rum? I had always assumed white rum, but i suppose dark rum would be just as nice (golden rum being the perfect one)

...any one else feel like having a Zombie?

 
At 1:33 pm, November 06, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Light rum is usually specified, but I don't see why a golden or even dark rum couldn't make a very pleasant drink. I imagine that the darker rums get thicker and sweeter, so perhaps they'd need more lime to balance that.

 
At 1:54 pm, November 06, 2007, Blogger Joanna said...

...any one else feel like having a Zombie?

*winks at Hadyn*

 
At 2:36 pm, November 06, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Ah Jo: I contemplated posting that, but thought better of it. Some of us have fewer misgivings, it would appear!

 
At 6:58 pm, November 06, 2007, Anonymous CC_Vince said...

Caipirinha...
Technically not rum, you should use 'Cachaca' which is very much like rum (its a sugar cane spirit) from brazil. Its cheaper then water over there...

Blatant self promotion but the Cavern Club makes a pretty mean daiquiri.

 
At 12:05 am, November 07, 2007, Blogger Joanna said...

>Blatant self promotion but the Cavern Club makes a pretty mean daiquiri.

You know, I've never been there. Perhaps we should make more of an effort. Plus, old people = richer...

 
At 3:30 pm, November 07, 2007, Blogger Stephen said...

Oh, I know about the cachaca. I have had all kinds from the pretentious (aged at least one year!) to the "artesanal" that had hand batch numbers on the bottle to good old Pitu.

A light white rum is a fair approximation in a pinch though, and I was think about analogous flavour profiles, not necessarily identical ingredients.

 
At 5:50 pm, November 07, 2007, Anonymous cc_vince said...

Very true stephen I mean they are practically identical...
and if you have a summer like my last one where you drink them from a bucket all day (seriously try it, one bottle cachaca, a bag of limes, a bag of ice, some sugar, a clean bucket) then you'll soon lose any concern about whether your drinking them properly...(infact if the photos match my memory then we kept drinking them long after we'd run out of sugar...and limes...and ice)

 
At 9:00 pm, November 08, 2007, Blogger Stephen said...

A __bucket__?

Whoah.

I could be admitted to hospital by January.

 

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