Drink of the month: Daiquiri
It'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.