100th Anniversary of the Daiquiri’s Coming to America – A Museum of the American Cocktail Seminar

On November 19, the Museum of the American Cocktail and the Occidental Grill & Seafood Restaurant joined to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Daiquiri’s emigration from Cuba to Washington, D.C., in a seminar titled, “Happy Birthday, Mr. Daiquiri.” Indeed, it was 1909 that a young U.S. Navy medical officer named Lucius Johnson brought the drink from Cuba to Washington, D.C., where it was debuted at the historic Army and Navy Club, just a few blocks from where we held our event. About 75 people were in attendance.


Phil Greene and Derek Brown of the Museum were joined by the following distinguished guest presenters: Admiral John Faigle, U.S.C.G. Reserved, and a senior officer with the Army and Navy Club; Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, renowned Tiki expert and author of several books on Tiki drinks and culture; and Jon Arroyo, chief mixologist at Farmers and Fishers and Founding Farmers, both here in D.C., and Brand Ambassador for Cabana Cachaca.


An underlying theme of the show was that the Daiquiri is but one of many examples of a classic trinity in cocktails, the beautiful marriage of rum/cane spirits, lime juice and sugar. We opened the show with the French Caribbean variation on the Daiquiri, the classic Ti’ Punch, a simple mixture of lime juice, sugar cane syrup, and rhum agricole, a version of rum made with cane juice, rather than molasses. We used Depaz Rhum Agricole from Martinique, along with Depaz Blue Cane Syrup. It’s a simple yet complex drink.

Shown below, Jon Arroyo, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Phil Greene, Derek Brown, and Admiral Faigle.

Admiral Faigle, Phil and Derek discussed the origins of the Daiquiri, including the “official story,” which places its birth near the Cuban coastal town of Daiquiri, where an American mining engineer by the name of Jennings Cox is said to have invented the drink, circa 1905. Several versions of the story were recounted. But it was noted that the combination of lime juice, sugar and rum was nothing new; in fact, the British Navy had instituted the practice of adding lime juice and water to their daily ration of rum for sailors at sea back in 1740, called “grog,” by Admiral Edward Vernon (for whom Mount Vernon is named, but that’s another seminar). And going back to the 1580s, we are told that the Mojito (which is basically a Daiquiri with mint added) was invented by British pirate/privateer Edward Drake, after an unsuccessful raid on Havana. Derek demonstrated the preparation of the classic Daiquiri, and the audience enjoyed a sample.


Phil then explained how the Daiquiri flourished in Cuba, and how Americans flocked to Havana during Prohibition to escape the horrors of bathtub gin and illegal speakeasies. One such American who found solace in Cuba, and a taste for Daiquiris, was Ernest Hemingway. Phil explained the origins of the so called Hemingway Daiquiri, aka, the Papa Doble, a delicious combination of rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, and maraschino liqueur, while telling a few Hemingway anecdotes.


Mr. Berry then recounted how the  Daiquiri was the springboard of many classic variations found in the world of Tiki drinks and culture. He went through the evolution of Tiki, tracing the histories of the great restaurants of Donn the Beachcomber and Trader Vic Bergeron, and demonstrated and made two great Tiki drinks, the Don’s Special Daiquiri, and the Lychee Daiquiri, which the audience enjoyed.

Then, of course we moved to Cachaca, the so-called “Brazilian Rum,” and that classic drink, the Caipirinha, again touching on the “classic trinity” theme. Jon Arroyo explained the distillation processes of both rum and cachaca, the column still and pot still methods, and then discussed the origins and background of the Caipirinha, and served a delicious sample of the drink to the crowd.

Phil then closed the show with a discussion of the Bacardi Cocktail, yet another variation on the Daiquiri, and how the Bacardi Company used litigation in the 1930s to force bar and restaurant owners to use genuine Bacardi in their Bacardi Cocktails, lest it be a trademark violation to use another rum.

We’re grateful to the Occidental Grill for their excellent hospitality, and look forward to more events at this beautiful and historic venue. Thanks especially to manager Lamont Profitt for hosting a great event.  We’re also grateful to Mount Gay Rum, Depaz Rhum Agricole, Flor de Cana Rum, and The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley.  The recipes for our event are as follows:

Ti’ Punch

2 oz Depaz Rhum Agricole

Lime wedge (about ¼ of a lime)

¼ to ½ oz Depaz Cane Syrup

Build in glass, swizzle or stir with ice.

The Classic Daiquiri

1 ½ – 2 ounces Mount Gay Eclipse Silver Rum

¾ ounce fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon sugar, or ½ ounce sugar syrup

Shake well with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass

The Papa Doble or Hemingway Daiquiri

3.75 oz white rum (Mount Gay or Flor de Cana are both excellent)

2 oz fresh lime juice

2 oz fresh grapefruit juice

6 drops maraschino

Fill a blender one-quarter full of ice, preferably shaved or cracked. Add the rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, and the maraschino. Blend on high until the mixture turns cloudy and light colored, “like the sea where the wave falls away from the bow of a ship when she is doing thirty knots.”

Don’s Special Daiquiri

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

1/2 oz honey mix (1:1 honey & hot water)

1/2 oz ounces passion fruit syrup*

1/2 oz Mount Gay Eclipse Silver rum

1 oz Mount Gay Extra Old rum

Shake with ice cubes. Strain

(PASSION FRUIT SYRUP: Equal parts Perfect Puree Of Napa Valley Passion Fruit Puree and 1:1 simple syrup.)

The 1970s version of Don The Beachcomber’s 1934 Mona Daiquiri, which called for 30-year-old Myers’s Mona rum.

Lychee Nut Daiquiri

1 ounce fresh lime juice

1 ounce lychee nut puree (Perfect Puree Of Napa Valley)

1/2 ounces Maraschino liqueur

2 ounces Flor De Cana Dry white rum

Shake well with plenty of ice cubes. Strain

Adapted by Beachbum Berry from Trader Vic’s 1960s blender recipe.

The Caipirinha

2 oz Cabana Cachaca

1 lime, cut into 4-8 wedges

1-2 teaspoons sugar

Muddle sugar and lime in mixing glass, add Cabana Cachaca and ice, shake well, pour contents into chilled rocks glass. Enjoy!

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