There are few writers that better embody the Romantic image of the writer as an intrepid adventurer and globetrotter than Ernest Hemingway. An ambulance driver in the First World War, a young writer in 1920s Paris, big game hunter in Africa, and a journalist in both the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War. These are just a few of the exploits that Hemingway got up to and a constant that ran throughout his life was his passion for a good stiff drink. After all this is the man who commandeered a tank during the arrival of the Allied forces in Paris, in order to be the first man to ‘liberate’ (his own words) the wine cellar of the Ritz.
Pinpointing Hemingway’s favourite drink is not so simple. We know he loved a Martini, his book Across the River and Into the Trees includes a recipe for what must be the driest Martini ever put down in fiction: a whopping fifteen parts gin to one part vermouth! Philip Greene, Hemingway’s biographer, says that Hemingway ‘thought globally’ but always ‘drank locally’.
Talk about an avid drinker, the sage advice the writer used to offer tourists was to not ‘bother with churches, government buildings or city squares… if you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars’ and there was no culture that Hemingway felt a greater affection for than Cuba. This was the place where he spent most of his adult life, living just outside of Havana on his estate called Finca Vigía. It was here that he lived for over twenty years, the Caribbean island became the backdrop for some of his most famous novels. After a day’s writing or deep sea fishing, Hemingway would spend a fair amount of his time drinking at the Floridita bar, sometimes with the likes of Errol Flynn and Gary Cooper.
The local drink in Cuba of course was the humble Daiquiri and if there’s one drink that can take the title of Hemingway’s favourite it must be this one. He immortalised the appearance of the drink in his fiction: “This frozen Daiquiri,” he wrote in Islands in the Stream, “so well beaten as it is, looks like the sea where the wave falls away from the bow of a ship when she is doing thirty knots.”
Ironically, Hemingway, whose birthday it is on Thursday, was diabetic so couldn’t even drink the classic Daiquiri. But this didn’t stop him from having his own version of the classic cocktail, minus the sugar, made for him by the famous bartender at the Floridita, Constantino Ribalaigua. Below is the original recipe for the Hemingway Daiquiri, (christened the ‘Papa Doble’) recorded by the author’s friend A. E. Hotchner who spent a year with the writer at his home in Cuba. It’s a pretty sour affair so you’ve been warned!
3 ounces Bacardí Carta Blanca
Juice of 2 limes
Half ounce marsh grapefruit juice
6 drops of Maraschino liqueur
Blend the above ingredients with ice and serve in an ice cold coupe glass.
This authentic version of the Hemingway Daiquiri is far too sour for most palates. So simply add some sugar syrup to the drink to suit your taste and perhaps reduce the amount of lime in the drink. Better still, get one of bartenders at our featured bars to do it for you.
Celebrate National Daiquiri Day at these bars all offering fabulous twists on the classic (but if you want one of those, they’ll mix that up for you too. Salut!