In their new book, Tropical Standard: Cocktail Techniques & Reinvented Recipes, Brooklyn bartender Garret Richard and author Ben Schaffer explore the history and recipes of the tropical cocktail canon (also check out their recent interview on Radio Imbibe). But Tropical Standard also opens up the recipe templates with suggested ingredients and combinations, allowing room for home bartenders to explore their own variations. The Daiquiri is one such classic they revisit, addressing age-old questions, such as sugar versus syrup, how to dissolve granulated sugar, and which rum to use. The Daiquiri “is a world unto itself,” they say. “You might explore it for the rest of your life.”
Sugar Versus Syrup
There are two schools of thought on which sweetener makes for a better Daiquiri, and no one can agree. But this may settle the matter. While syrup takes care of the issue of the sugar remaining undissolved in the finished drink, it also adds water content to the cocktail, washing out rum’s delicate flavors. Plus, since many of today’s white rums are lower proof than the ones originally used during the Daiquiri’s heyday in the 1920s, “lowering the amount of water in other ingredients is essential for balance.” The answer, go with the granulated sugar.
To thoroughly dissolve the sugar granules, Tropical Standard shares this tip from tropical cocktail connoisseur Daniele Dalla Pola: use a milk frother. “This coffee accessory, nothing more than a small motorized whisk, is a versatile tool, and a surprisingly brief buzz with a frother can dissolve all the sugar a drink needs.”
When it come to the Daiquiri, Richard and Schaffer are very particular about ice. For shaken cocktails served up, they recommend loading a shaker with one medium (2-inch) cube and two small (1-inch cubes). “Shaking with two small cubes (for dilution) alongside one large cube (for texture) hits the sweet spot, delivering a tipple that has perfect composition, temperature, and alcohol content.”
The classic Daiquiri recipe specifies a light Cuban rum, but since Cuban rum is not available in the U.S., the authors suggest using your favorite rum. Or, for those intent on using a rum similar to a light Cuban rum, they suggest Don Q Cristal, Angostura White Oak, or Santa Teresa Claro. Rums that were made to be used in a Daiquiri include Probitas, Equiano Light, Hamilton White ’Stache, and Denizen Aged White.
1 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 oz. strained lime juice
2 oz. rum of your choice
Tools: shaker, milk frother, strainer
Combine all the ingredients except the rum in a shaker, and whisk with a milk frother until the sugar is fully dissolved. Add the rum and 1 medium and 2 small ice cubes. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe (6 ounces).
Salt SolutionThe 4:1 ratio is concentrated enough to avoid meddling in a drink’s dilution, yet not so concentrated that the salt won’t dissolve.
80 g water
20 g salt
Combine the ingredients, mix thoroughly, and store in a dropper bottle. The solution does not need to be refrigerated.
Excerpted from Tropical Standard: Cocktail Techniques & Reinvented Recipes by Garret Richard & Ben Schaffer, Countryman Press, 2023. For more information see TropicalStandard.com.