The Perfect Daiquiri Has Nothing to Do With a Blender

Skip the appliances and reach for a bottle of cherry liqueur

Few classic cocktails have suffered such abuse as the daiquiri, which, to many drinkers, still suggests over-sugared beachside slushies. But a properly made daiquiri is a classic right up there with the martini and margarita—and just as simple. Shake up rum, lime, and sugar, and presto: a daiquiri. No blender or umbrella garnish required.

As with any simple cocktail, details are key: a high-quality white rum, a judicious hand with the sweetener, and fresh lime juice (you do always use fresh juice in cocktails, don’t you?). A perfect daiquiri is tart and refreshing and perks you up instantly, elegant in its balance, slightly dangerous in its drinkability.

Since it’s such a simple drink, the daiquiri is ripe for experimentation. Try adding some grapefruit along with the lime, or dropping a few basil leaves into the shaker, or adding a float of aged rum on top.

The Technique

Juice your limes, and if you’re a perfectionist about these things, pass the juice through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any bits of seed or pith. Shake rum, lime juice, and sugar together over ice—we’re talking a vigorous, 15 to 20 second shake here—and strain into a glass. A chilled coupe is best, but not mandatory. And a thin, thin lime wheel is always an elegant garnish.

Try it in This

Get the recipe for the Cuban-style daiquiri » Matt Taylor-Gross

The daiquiri we know today traces back to Cuba circa 1898, and has stuck around the island as an extremely popular drink. Order a daiquiri in Havana today and you’re likely to have a cocktail somewhere between what we know as the Hemingway (with the addition of grapefruit and maraschino liqueur) and a classic. In this version, we use a sparing measure of Luxardo Maraschino—a huge upgrade from what you’ll find in Cuba proper—lending a hint of its complex, bittersweet cherry flavor.

Get the recipe for the Cuban-Style Daiquiri »

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