If April Showers bring May flowers then that must mean that May is Daisy cocktails month.
While you may think you have never heard of this cocktail, that’s simply because you may know it by one of its more familiar names, such as Margarita or Cosmopolitan, but, like a rose by any other name (apologies, William Shakespeare), these cocktails are all just Daisies. Obviously, NOT the flower, but rather a whole category of refreshing drinks; as noted in the book How the Gringos Stole Tequila: The Modern Age of Mexico’s Most Traditional Spirit, “Daisies, like sours, fizzes, and cobblers, are a type of drink.” Like with much cocktail lore, there doesn’t seem to be one definitive answer as to why we call them Daisies, but we’ll get back to that in a moment.
What you should know, first and foremost, is how to make one. And, perhaps even more importantly, how easy they are to make. Chris Patino, National Brand Ambassador, Pernod Ricard, and a member of the team at BarSmarts, explains, “A Daisy is a style of drink based on a standard recipe that includes a spirit, citrus juice, some type of sweetener or liqueur and some type of fizz (i.e. club soda). This style of drink was popular in the early 20th century, and as such lead to the advent of the Tequila Daisy. Many people believe that the Daisy, which when translated to Spanish is literally Margarita, gave way to the modern day classic. However the lack of “fizz” in a Margarita has led some to question the validity of this theory.”
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Like many of today’s popular cocktails, there are myriad explanations for how drinks came to be. One legend has it that back in 1938 a Mexican bartender invented the drink in homage to a beautiful Ziegfeld girl, another tells a story of a bartender in Tijuana who was asked to make a brandy daisy, which was a popular drink of the day about a century ago. Said bartender reached for the tequila instead of the brandy and voila, a delicious tequila daisy was born.
The tequila daisy that we now know as a margarita may have started off as just a happy mistake. Or perhaps it is the evolution of a drink called a Picador, made with tequila, Cointreau and lime juice and first found in the 1937 edition of Café Royal.
Whatever it is, it’s one of America’s most ordered drinks. Ordered so frequently that it has become iconic to the point that it has surpassed what kind of drink it is; making it like the Xerox of the drinks world. One thing is for sure, the name makes sense — as Patino noted, translate Daisy directly into Spanish and you get Margarita.
One other Daisy that is often found on menus, even if it’s not listed under a category of Daisies, is the Paloma. This simple combination of tequila and grapefruit soda is actually more popular than Margaritas with Mexican drinkers looking for tequila cocktails at home.
Whether making these Daisy cocktails at home or enjoying them at a bar or restaurant you should know that Daisy recipes historically welcome a whole host of sweeteners from gomme syrup to raspberry syrup to bar sugar. What truly sets Daisies apart from other sours is the inclusion of liqueurs or cordials. Some of the most popular worth experimenting with are Cointreau, maraschino, and even yellow Chartreuse as noted in The Flowing Bowl, published in 1899 by Edward Spencer.
Well armed with this new-found knowledge of Daisies and how to prepare them, you’re ready to invite guests over for a flowing bowl of your own. Salud!
By Ian Kearney, The Daisy (NYC)
- 1.5 oz Tromba Blanco Tequila
- .75 oz St. Germaine Elder Flower Liqueur
- .5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
- 1 Part Egg White
Combine all ingredients and shaken vigorously. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a fresh cut lime wheel and a turn of black pepper.
Eye of the Thai-ger
The Last Word (Livermore, CA)
- 2 oz. Rum
- 1 oz. Lime Juice
- 1/2 oz. Lemongrass Syrup*
Shake with ice, strain into a coupe. Garnish with lemongrass stalk.
*Lemongrass Syrup preparation: Take 10 stalks lemongrass (trimmed, brittle outer layer removed) and 2 Cups of water and then puree the lemongrass, put in saucepan with water. Reduce it by half on medium heat. Store overnight. Measure the amount of liquid you have and then add an equal amount of sugar and warm again over low heat to dissolve the sugar.
- 1 1/2 parts Casamigos blanco tequila
- 1 part fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 part agave nectar
- 4 basil leaves
- 4 parts grapefruit soda
Shake ingredients with ice then strain and serve in a Collins glass. Garnish with fresh basil and fresh-cracked pink pepper.