The daiquiri, a favorite of Ernest Hemingway and President John F. Kennedy, was rumored to have been invented by an American mining engineer who was in Cuba during the Spanish-American war. Named after a beach in Santiago, Cuba, the drink simply combined rum, lime, and sugar (ingredients readily found in Cuba) to make a potent and refreshing libation.
Now, the "daiquiri" is mostly a bastardized version of itself -- a hellish anti-freeze-colored concoction of cheap grain alcohol or rum and corn syrup-laden mix, blended into a slushie-type substance, and served in a plastic container with a sippy straw. That, Tony Abou-Ganim quips, "is alcohol abuse".
Abou-Ganim, author of the books The Modern Mixologist: Contemporary Classic Cocktails and Vodka Distilled, has teamed up with Shellback Rum for an "All Hands on Deck" tour to show people how easy it is to make classic rum cocktails at home using fresh ingredients. The mixologist loathes those sugary pre-mixes and is on a mission to wipe them off the planet -- one beautiful drink at a time.
Shellback Rum, named after the term used for a sailor who has crossed the equator, is distilled by the West Indies Rum Distillery in Barbados. The rums, just launched in the United States, are available in silver and spiced. The spiced is aged a minimum of 12 months in American bourbon barrels and flavored with natural spices like cinnamon bark, ginger, clove, nutmeg, vanilla, and allspice. They made up the basis for the drinks Abou-Ganim showcased in the "class".
First off, besides rum there are a few tools you'll need to get started. Every home bar should be equipped with a bar spoon, a muddler, a lime squeezer, a small strainer, and a shaker at the minimum. You should also invest in some decent glassware (we used classic coups). Abou-Ganim sells most of these items on his website, or visit any restaurant supply store.
In addition, make a batch of simple syrup, which can be stored in a squeeze bottle (we've included a recipe below) for a few days.
So how easy is it to make a perfect fruit daiquiri from scratch? So simple you'll cry when you think you've ever made one from a mix. So, throw out those bottles of neon-colored sugar water, grab the rum and some real fruit, and get ready for summer:
Deck Hand Daiquiri
2 oz. Shellback Silver rum
1 oz. hand extracted lime juice (about the juice of one good sized lime)
1 oz. simple syrup
Fresh, seasonal fruits and berries (we used about a half dozen raspberries and blackberries).
In a shaker, muddle the fruit. Add simple syrup, fresh lime juice, and rum. Add ice and shake until well blended. Double strain the daiquiri into a chilled cocktail coup, using a small hand-held strainer. Garnish with a thin slice of lime and/or fruit of your choice.
Once you have this basic technique down, it's time to experiment. Our group made strawberry daiquiris, pineapple daiquiris, and mixed berry daiquiris. We played with spiced simple syrups, made by adding fresh ginger or cinnamon when cooking up a batch. Just remember the basic recipe and add your own fresh fruits. We can't wait for lychee and mango season.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
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In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool.