The Origins of the "Daiquiri"

By Patrick McSherry


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General:

The alcoholic drink, the daiquiri, has its origins dating back at least to the Spanish American War.

The History:

The daiquiri, according to most sources, can trace its history back to the years following the Spanish American War in Cuba, when American iron miners set up operations on the island. One of those miners was Jennings Stockton Cox, whose mining operation was in the vicinity of the Cuban town of Daiquiri. Cox is generally given credit for inventing the drink called the “daiquiri,” which he named for the town. Daiquiri was the site of the first landing of Major General Rufus Shafter’s Fifth Corps in its assault on Santiago.

However, there are earlier references to the drink that would become known as the Daquiri. N. G. Gonzalez was an American citizen and newspaper correspondent who had been born in Cuba. During the war, he joined the staff of Cuban General Nunez, and returned to Cuba to take up the fight against the Spanish. When Nunez returned to Florida to attempt to raise more troops for another expedition, Gonzalez stayed behind and nominally served on the staff of Col. Rodriquez. In this capacity he met Maximo Gomez, the overall commander of the Cuban insurgent forces. It was Gomez who introduced him to the drink that would become the daiquiri. Gonzalez described the meeting as follows:

“Before the powwow began, the General did the honors by handing out his precious flask of rum and a silver cup, of and from which we partook. At the close of it he treated Captain Johnson to a mango and me to a lime [food was a scarce commodity for the Cuban insurgent forces], and then he suggested to me the advisability of putting the lime to its best use. So he rummaged out another flask with a very fine aromatic decoction of cane syrup, and out of this, the juice of the lime and some more of the rum, he brewed me a punch which surpassed even the best efforts of the lamented William Hayne, the majordomo of the Columbia club in its palmy days. From the expression on my face, Johnson saw that I had got hold of a good thing, so he dropped his unripe mango and put up a look of inquiry. Thereupon the General brewed him one also. If I had had that punch two days before after my swamp trip, I would have been Willing to canonize Maximo Gomez. But it was very nice even two days after.”

The combination of ingredients mentioned by Gomez constitute a “daiquiri.” It would appear that the combination was already in use by the time of the Spanish American War and not invented by Cox as is traditionally thought.

The first recorded recipe for the drink, which is attributed to Jennings Stockton Cox, is to serve six people and is as follows:

The juice of 5 lemons
6 teaspoons sugar
6 cups of Bacardi Carta Blanca (rum)
2 cups of mineral water
Crushed ice

Interestingly, this “first” recorded formal recipe for the famous lime drink actually does not include lime, but lemon instead. It seems that in Cuba foreigners had a tendency to mistake green, unripe lemons as limes. Gonzalez noted in his travels with General Gomez that “…only the lemons are ripe, these being the small wild variety known in the States as limes.” Therefore, it is also unclear whether Gomez’ concoction, described by Gonzalez, actually contained lime or lemon!



Bibliography:

"Classic Cocktails in History: the Daiquiri," The Alcohol Professor. alcoholprofessor.com/blog-posts/blog/2014/05/14/classic-cocktails-in-history-the-daiquiri (10/30/20).

Gonzalez, N. G., In Darkest Cuba: Two Months' Service Under Gomez Along the Trocha From the Caribbean to the Bahama Channel. (Columbia, S.C: The State Company, 1922), 231.


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