Sculpture of Ernest Hemingway Daiquiri History

Whatever Happened to the Hemingway Daiquiri?

A tribute to possibly the most interesting man that ever lived, the Hemingway Daiquiri is based on a drink the widely-known author used to famously enjoy. But why is it no longer a staple on cocktail lists around the world?

What Is a Hemingway Daiquiri?


The Hemingway Daiquiri offers a fruity twist on the traditional Daiquiri. While the traditional recipe is made up of white rum, sugar syrup, and lime, the Hemingway Daiquiri swaps the sugar for grapefruit juice and a few drops of Maraschino liqueur as an added zing.

It is also known as the Hemingway Special, the Hemingway Special Daiquiri, or Constantino Ribalaigua’s Daiquiri No. 3.

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The Origins of the Hemingway Daiquiri


Ernest Hemingway moved around a lot during his life, but the locals were very fond of him in Havana, where he stayed during the Prohibition era. In fact, he was almost as famous for his drinking as he was for his writing and was a regular patron of El Floridita Bar, where everyone referred to him as Papa. The bar was renowned for its Daiquiris, made by the talented Constantino Ribalaigua Vert.

One day, in the early 1930s, Hemingway popped into the bar to use the bathroom. When he returned to the bar area, he noticed a row of frozen Daiquiris lined up for another customer. He took a sip and told the barman it would be better with double the rum and no sugar.

And so, the barman created the Papa Doble. The recipe was a double shot of white rum and a splash of lime juice blended so cold he couldn’t taste it going down.

Legend has it that Hemingway sat and drank seventeen of these cocktails one afternoon and later bragged that he didn’t even have a afterwards. He put this stroke of luck down to the fact that his Daiquiris had no sugar syrup, and he had eaten a steak sandwich.

Unfortunately, this drink was less popular with the locals. Professional mixologists weren’t impressed either, as the extra alcohol and lack of sweet notes threw the cocktail balance off. Eventually, the drink was adapted to include grapefruit juice and Maraschino liqueur. These added a sweeter touch without the sugar since Hemingway was diabetic, and the drink was an instant hit.

However, there is no evidence that he ever tried this version of his cocktail.

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Where did the Hemingway Daiquiri go?


Nowadays, it seems the only Daiquiri on offer in any cocktail bar is a strawberry-flavoured version. That sweet, pink (often-frozen) drink is undoubtedly a crowd-pleaser!

The Hemingway Daiquiri, however, is harder to track down.

Once upon a time, the Hemingway Daiquiri was enjoyed across the world. Created at the height of the author’s popularity and at a time when Americans would regularly visit Cuba to escape Prohibition, it quickly became a hit throughout the continent. Later, when Hemingway visited Europe, news of this incredible Daiquiri travelled with him.

And there are many bars around the world dedicated to Hemingway. Arguably the most famous hotel in the world, The Ritz, Paris, has Hemingway’s Bar—but despite the original popularity of the Hemingway Daiquiri, you can no longer even find one here. Could this be down to something as simple as the lime?

Once upon a time, all limes in Cuba were of the Key variety. These limes were small and tangy, with just enough sweet aroma to mean that only a tiny amount of sugar syrup was needed to balance the drink.

Then the Caribbean island suffered two major hurricanes between 1926 and 1928, and all the lime groves were wiped out.

In the meantime, Persian limes had started to become popular in the U.S. These limes were larger, juicier, and seedless, with thicker skins that made them ideal for transporting. However, they also required more sugar to sweeten the drink. This missing ingredient in the Hemingway Daiquiri threw off the whole flavour of the recipe, so that taste of the original cocktail was it never quite recaptured.

In fact, all cocktails invented before 1928 probably relied on the tangy taste of key limes.

So, if you plan on recreating this cocktail properly, try and if track down the right variety of lime. You’ll be surprised at the difference this can make.

Let’s Bring It Back…

Hemmingway Daiquiri Cocktail in Martini glass and ingredients

It might not be the most fashionable cocktail anymore, but this is still a drink worth making.

You’ll need:

60ml white rum (Owney’s rum is a great choice)
40ml grapefruit juice
15ml Maraschino liqueur
15ml fresh lime juice (preferably a key lime, if you can find it)

Once you’ve got the ingredients right, this is an easy cocktail recipe to master. Simply shake all the ingredients with crushed ice until the outside of the shaker is frosted, and then strain into a chilled Coupe glass. The crushed ice is important – lots of people blend their Daiquiris, but that is not the traditional way to enjoy this drink.

No garnish is required, but some people like to add a lime wheel or grapefruit twist.

Pull out a copy of The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway himself, and enjoy!



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