Of course, with a shopping list this short, there’s no place to hide.
“I love a classic Daiquiri, but it’s a sure way to test a bartender. Even though it’s simple, it is also very easy to make badly,” Eryn Reece, head bartender at NYC’s Banzarbar, says.
If you’re hoping to make excellent Daiquiris at home, you’ll want to fine-tune your technique and make sure each component shines. Fortunately, with these six tips, you’ll be making professional-grade cocktails in no time.
What to Do When Making Daiquiris
Squeeze fresh lime juice.
“I’m sure everyone is going to say this, but, like… c’mon, it’s three ingredients,” Miles Caballes, bartender, Bibo Ergo Sum, Los Angeles, says. While squeezing citrus is more labor-intensive than buying jarred juice, bartenders agree it’s worth the effort.
“If you’re throwing a big party, squeeze a dozen limes right before your guests arrive and store in a nonreactive container in the fridge,” suggests Matthew Belanger, head bartender, Death & Co, NYC. “If you’re making one for yourself just slice the thing and squeeze into your jigger.”
Mix up your r(h)ums.
A traditional Daiquiri calls for white rum, but many modern bar pros believe blending different spirits produces the best results. George Kaiho, bar manager at Jettison in Dallas, offsets light rum with a richer, funkier counterpart.
Sakover opts for a three-rum blend, using ¾ to 1 ounce of Jamaican rum, such as Appleton 12yr Rare or Hamilton Jamaican Gold; plus ½ to ¾ ounce of Rhum JM 55 Rhum Agricole or Neisson 52.5; and ½ to ¾ ounce of column still white rum, like Santa Teresa Claro or Caña Brava 3 year. Alternatively, he says, you could use one multi-heritage rum, like Plantation 3 Star or Probitas.
Why so many spirits? Different rums have varying bodies and flavors, Kaiho explains. Pot still Jamaican rums and Guyanese demerara rums are richer and produce a full-bodied cocktail, while white rums keep things fresh and tangy (“like a boozy limeade,” Caballes says).
Use syrup, not sugar.
Granulated sugar can be exceedingly difficult to dissolve in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Instead, Belanger suggests making, “a 1:1 or 2:1 sugar syrup for your Daiquiri.” You can use supermarket white sugar to make simple syrup, or experiment with cane or demerara sugar (the latter will especially complement aged rum, if you’ve got it in your spirits mix).
“Most people have a preference for when they use a particular sugar,” Reece says. “I enjoy using cane as much as possible, as I enjoy the buttery roundness that it imparts to a drink. However, when I choose to make a Daiquiri with a dark rum I feel like it benefits from a darker and richer sugar, like demerara.”
Syrups also allow for easy flavor infusions. Kaiho, for example, uses grapefruit-spiked syrup in Jettison’s Daiquiri for a nuanced tang.
Adjust your ratios.
Every time you try a new rum or tinker with your spirits, be sure to tweak the syrup and lime juice as well. A good rule of thumb is to start with minimal amounts, taste the mix with the rum(s), and then add more of each ingredient as needed.
“Some rums and rum blends call for a little more sweet and less acid or vice versa. But if you are using good rum(s), let them shine through and try not to hide your spirit with too much sweet,” Sakover says.
What to Avoid When Making Daiquiris
Ditch the blender.
You absolutely do not need “a blender, frozen fruit, sour mix or ‘Daiquiri’ mix. This is not “Cocktail” the movie, and that is not a Daiquiri,” Sakover says.
In reality, classic Daiquiris are shaken, meaning you combine all ingredients in a cocktail tin with ice — preferably large, clear cubes — and then vigorously shake to combine and emulsify. The drink is served neat in a coupe. No machinery required.
“Shaking with good, solid ice will give you that beautiful cap of bubbles that’s so crucial for a cocktail served up,” Caballes says. “If you don’t have any nice ice around, shaking with the Booker and Dax cocktail cube and a few pieces of ice can help with your texture.”
Don’t let it come to room temperature.
“No one enjoys a lukewarm Daiquiri,” Reece warns. Serve yours as cold as possible.
How do you get it ice-cold? “Shake the crap out of your Daiquiri” when it’s in your cocktail tin with ice, Belanger says, noting that “the greatest crime you can commit against the Daiquiri is to serve it too warm, and many professional bartenders still manage to under-shake drinks of this style.
“You want to shake the tin until frost forms on the outside and it becomes almost painful to hold,” he adds. No one said perfection was easy.