Cocktails & Spirits

Hemingway's Birthday: Make the Original Papa Doble From Havana's Floridita Bar

Today marks Ernest Hemingway's 115th birthday. The author/adventurer who called South Florida home for a number of years, is nearly as well known for his prolific drinking as his writing.

In fact, much of the Tales of the Cocktail seminar, Floridita: Cradle of the Daiquiri, focused on Hemingway's influence on the famed Havana bar where bartender Constantino Ribalaigua Vert invented the daiquiri.

Cocktail historians David Wondrich and Jeff "Beachbum" Berry shared insight into the beginnings of this cocktail, which surged in popularity first during Prohibition, when wealthy Americans would fly or cruise to nearby Cuba to spend the day imbibing, forgoing the sights of the island to spend the day looking into a cocktail glass. The island nation's tourism industry grew, with tourists staggering out of Sloppy Joe's, which was considered to be the "American" bar in Havana.

See also: Toast Ernest Hemingway's Birthday With These Cocktails

It wasn't until Hemingway, who escaped to Cuba to fish and drink in peace, started frequenting the Floridita, that the bar became world famous. The author would hold court in the bar, entertaining famous friends like Spencer Tracy and Ava Gardner. Word traveled fast, and soon people flocked to the bar to catch a glimpse of the author. At the peak of the Floridita's popularity, Constantino would personally make about 1,000 daiquiris a day.

According to Wondrich and Berry, Hemingway feared contracting diabetes, so he implored the creator of the daiquiri to modify his recipe to the author's specifications. Instead of a teaspoon of sugar, the "Papa Doble" was made with grapefruit juice and (naturally) double the rum. Hemingway's first round was served in a cocktail glass. His second (and third and fourth) was served in a highball glass with a napkin wrapped around it, secured by a rubber band to ensure that no matter how shaky Hemingway's hands became from drinking, he would never lose his grip.

Ernest Hemingway is long gone, but he eternally holds court at the Floridita Bar in Havana as a brass statue, forever enjoying the cocktail named in his honor.

Here are the recipes for both the original Floridita Daiquiri #1 and the "classic" Daiquiri #3, as well as the Papa Doble. Make one (or both) and toast to "Papa" Hemingway and his favorite bartender, Constintino Ribalaigua Vert.

Floridita Daiquiri #1

  • 2 oz. white rum
  • juice 1/2 lime
  • teaspoon sugar

Floridita Daiquiri #3

  • 2 oz white rum
  • juice 1/2 lime
  • teaspoon sugar
  • teaspoon maraschino liqueur
  • teaspoon grapefruit juice

Papa Doble

  • 4 oz white rum
  • juice 2 limes
  • juice 1/2 grapefruit
  • 6 drops maraschino liqueur
  • 2 cups crushed ice

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss