Thursday, July 18, 2019

Tomorrow is National Daiquiri Day

    Need to cool off from the blistering heat we have had here in the past few weeks? Why not celebrate National Daiquiri Day, July 17, 2019  with meA great daiquiri is a cocktail you will not forget.

Jennings Cox
     In 1898, after the victory of Roosevelt at the Battle of San Juan, the Americans began to exploit the iron mines and this engineer led one of the first explorations. Cox and his team worked in the Sierra Maestra hills to the outside of Santiago de Cuba where the small town of Daiquiri is located and was the one who invented the famous drink during their stay there.   The engineers received substantial salaries and generous rations of tobacco as an incentive after leaving their jobs in the United States to go to Cuba and face the threat of yellow fever that was there at that time. Jennings also asked that his workers receive a monthly ration of local rum, Bacardi Carta Blanca, that local workers used to mix with coffee every night after the workday. This is how he began to experiment until he created what we now know as Daiquiri.

     The gossips tell that the history of this drink can be attributed to another engineer, Pagliuchi , who was a mine observer and who met more than once with Cox. During their meetings, they talked about creating a drink with the ingredients that Cox had at hand: rum, lime and sugar. Cox's granddaughter tells a slightly different story; she said that his grandfather was running out of gin when he had to entertain the Americans. When that happened, I changed it for rum that never served directly but mixed it with lime and sugar to mask its flavor. Whichever way Cox managed to create the drink, the result was sublime.

     In Havana, a bar just off of the square in Old Town Havana was El Floridita.  This is a bar that was owned by Constantiono Ribalaigua Vert.  He has been credited with the invention of the “frozen Daiquiri”  To this day it is the best please in the world to go have one of these very refreshing cocktails.  A pleasure that I have enjoyed many times.

     He did his best writing in the morning, standing in front of his typewriter, plucking the keys as fast as the words might come to him. This was fortunate, because by 11 a.m., the Havana heat began to creep into his rented room at the Hotel Ambros Mundos.   He couldn't think in the swelter, much less write.   If the trade winds were good, Hemingway might make his way to Havana Harbor, where his boat, Pilar, was docked in the 1930s. But on other days, he would take the ornate caged elevator down from Room 511 to the lobby and make his way out to the sun-speckled street. It was just a 10-minute stroll through Old Havana from Hotel Ambos Mundos to El Floridita, his favorite bar.  Between the heat and the morning spent cooped in his small room, Hemingway was always parched by the time he arrived at El Floridita.

     According to Hilary Hemingway, Ernest’s niece, Ernest Hemingway's niece, explains: "In the early 1930s, Hemingway went into the Floridita to use the restroom one day. People in the bar were bragging about the daiquiris that were being served there. So he ordered one and took a sip. Ernest asked for another one, this time with 'no sugar and more rum.' And that's how the Papa Doble, or the Hemingway Daiquiri, was born."  Ribalaigua coined the drink after Hemingway and the rest is literary-meets-libation history. The Papa was for Hemingway, known for his graying beard and fatherly self-assurance. The doble — well, that meant two. Two times more liquor to pack the most punch.  Hemingway proudly boasted to have downed 17 of Constante's daiquiris over the course of one afternoon in 1942.