The Story (and Recipe) Behind the Hemingway Daiquiri

A prolific drinker deserves a namesake cocktail. But was Hemingway really the alcohol authority he's made out to be? Learn how to make his signature drink.
The Hemingway Daiquiri / Photo by Matthew Dimas

“Don’t bother with churches, government buildings or city squares. If you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars.” –Ernest Hemingway

The Hemingway daiquiri has arguably become the most popular variation of this classic rum cocktail, perhaps unseating the undisputed heavyweight champion of the 1990s, the frozen strawberry daiquiri.

A prolific drinker, Hemingway likely had a number of cocktails named after him. Most had little in common with the legendary writer, but to connect a concoction with the original Most Interesting Man In The World was a good way to sell cocktails.

We don’t know if Hemingway ever drank his namesake cocktail at El Floridita. One of Hemingway’s go-to watering holes in Havana created the cocktail to appeal to casual drinkers and leverage the name of one of its most famous patrons.

Make Cuba’s Iconic El Floridita Daiquiri

That’s because no one in his or her right mind would want to consume Hemingway’s preferred drink, the Papa Doble.

As the story goes, Hemingway, looking for a bathroom, popped into El Floridita. There, he saw the bartender mix a batch of frozen daiquiris. Never one to leave an unattended beverage to its own devices, Hemingway picked up the drink and tried it.

After a few tastes, he was said to have told the bartender, “That’s good, but I’d prefer it without the sugar…and double the rum.”

“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” –Ernest Hemingway

Hence, the drink’s name: “Papa” was Hemingway’s nickname in Havana, while “doble” indicates his preferred octane.

While a legend in drinking culture, Hemingway seemed to have terrible taste in cocktails. His favorite drinks seemed to follow a blueprint to consume the largest amount of alcohol in the least time.

That’s evident in the Papa Doble. It’s four ounces of rum with only a splash of lime, blended so cold that it couldn’t be tasted going down.

So, to create a “Hemingway daiquiri” for the public, El Floridita had to get a bit creative.

Staying true to the writer’s disdain for sugary drinks, the updated Hemingway daiquiri uses Maraschino liqueur rather than the traditional cane syrup. It’s a classic Italian liqueur distilled from Marasca cherries, which imparts a very subtle sweetness. A touch of ruby red grapefruit juice is also used to balance the drink. It adds a slight a touch of sweetness to counter the lime, but with a refreshing tartness.

Hemingway Daiquiri Ingredients
  • 2 ounces white rum
  • ¾ ounce lime juice
  • ½ ounce Maraschino liqueur
  • ½ ounce ruby red grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed, if possible)
  • Lime wedge (for garnish)
Hemingway Daiquiri Directions

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled. Double-strain into a coup glass. Garnish with lime wedge.

Bonus Hemingway Cocktail: Death in the Afternoon

Not to be solely remembered as a drinker for telling bartenders to “double the booze,” Hemingway has at least one published cocktail of his own. He gave it the same title as his nonfiction tome on bullfighting, Death in the Afternoon. It was published in the 1935 cocktail book So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon, a collection of cocktail recipes from famous authors.

The recipe, in Hemingway’s own words:

“Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”

Published on July 21, 2017
About the Author
Dylan Garret
Associate Digital Editor

A veteran of New York City’s bar and restaurant scene, Garret has lived, breathed and sweated spirits for more than a decade, working as a bartender and beverage director at establishments ranging from Michelin-starred eateries to local Brooklyn pubs. Joining Wine Enthusiast in 2015, he has very strong opinions on proper cocktail garnish. Email: dgarret@wineenthusiast.net



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