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Daiquiri Day

Cane and Table's Nick Detrich on Drink's Caribbean, Rum-Filled Origins

Unwrap the straw and raise up a styrofoam cup. July 19 is National Daiquiri Day, and New Orleans, with its gallon pricing and drive thru options, is the Daiquiri capital. (Plus, there's a parade). Moving beyond Bourbon Street’s frozen flavors, NOLA Defender wanted to dig down to the roots of the subtropical favorite. Cane & Table’s Nick Detrich, an expert on rums and Caribbean cocktials, provided some guidance.


Detrich is nothing short of zealous about the legendary libation. He says, “The daiquiri is not just one of my personal favorite drinks. It is one of the most classic drinks in the entire cocktail canon."



While New Orleans may have perfected daiquiri transportation and consumption, Detrich says its origins lie further south.


“The Daiquiri falls at a perfect time in history," Detrich says. "Its predecessor was created while the Cubans were fighting the Spanish for their independence in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The rebels were drinking canchanchera. Drinks historians believed for a while that [this drink] was rum, lime, and honey. Then they had almost an epiphany and realized that the word molasses is very similar to the Spanish word for honey, ‘mela.’ So, they realized the fore-runner was just rum, lime, and molasses.”  Detrich says the guerrillas would carry tin cups, which were also used for eating.


The drink’s evolution to the daiquiri was merely swapping the molasses for simple syrup. The simplicity of the drink remained which Detrich believes is the appeal.


“It’s a delicious drink," he said. "It's really clean. It’s the way that rum is meant to be drank, and rum has been drank in some variation of that recipe for 500 years. Whether it was called ‘grog’ or ‘punch’ it’s always been along these lines.”


NoDef pressed Detrich on the conflicting stories of American discovery of the cocktail. He countered, “It’s rum and lime and sugar. People were drinking that long before some engineer landed in Daiquiri, Cuba, and stumbled upon this elusive drink of rum and lime and sugar! Maybe, the name came along at the turn of the century, but it’s no mystery where it came from; limes and rum are Caribbean products, and sugar, the most important product in the whole world, are all there.”


Despite its warmer past, the expert does appreciate the drinks frozen form.


“I love frozen drinks. Today’s frozen daiquiris are a far cry from the past. When blenders came along, bartenders were some of the most innovative people in early 20th century food science. So, of course, they tried to use this new-fangled machine to make drinks. Hemingway’s preferred way to drink at La Floridita was a Blended Double Daiquiri a la Hemingway.”


There are some lines for the purist though. Detrich warns enthusiasts to be choosy about some of the flavored daiquiris available today. “Some are not even rum! They’re just high proof grain alcohol, water, fructose, corn syrup, yellow number 5, you know. A lot of places just use Everclear or Diesel, and a daiquiri should be about rum.”


As for the rum, a good batch is suggested, but Detrich also says that there is no need to go overboard and put in an boutique aged rum. Detrich adds the key is using fresh, hand pressed lime juice to make sure that the flavor is present. He adds that to really extract the flavor from the skin, it must be pressed in full.

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