The Old Man and the Sip

Toasting 125 Years of Hemingway

In the month that would have marked Hemingway's 125th birthday, senior publicist Rachel Collister takes a look at the man's favourite cocktail, and his influence in the drink's enduring popularity.

For true daiquiri lovers, July is synonymous with two things; National Daiquiri Day on the 19th, and Ernest Hemingway’s birthday on the 21st. Every year, cocktail enthusiasts raise their glass to honor the timeless classic, and the man responsible for its enduring popularity. This year marks a special milestone, as we celebrate what would have been Hemingway’s 125th birthday.

Traditionally made with rum, fresh lime juice, and sugar, the daiquiri as we know it has undergone numerous transformations and its evolution is poetically entwined with the famous writer who dubbed it his favorite drink. 

Hemingway was affectionately known as “Papa” in Havana, and as legend goes, he tried his first daiquiri at La Floridita cocktail bar. He famously remarked: “That’s good, but I’d prefer it with twice the rum and no sugar,” – leading the Floridita bartender Constantino Ribalaigua to name this new version “Papa Doble” in his honor.

Over time, La Floridita evolved the original “Papa Doble” recipe by adding maraschino liqueur and grapefruit, into what is now affectionately known as the “Hemingway Special Daiquiri”. 

The original rum used was Bacardi Carta Blanca, while other, lighter white rums, such as Diplomático Planas, work well. For an alternative Cuban spirit that Hemingway surely would have approved of, Eminente Reserva, a darker, more robust rum with a hint of tobacco, is also a hit with bartenders around the world.

Illustration of Constantino Ribalaigua from a 1939 version of his book, Cocktails: La Bar Florida. Courtesy of EUVS Vintage Cocktail Book Library.

From the traditional lime version to fruity variations like strawberry and mango, mixologists, and imbibers, continue to innovate, offering new interpretations while honoring its core simplicity. However you make it, as Hemingway said, “It shouldn’t taste of rum, it shouldn’t taste of lime and it shouldn’t taste of sugar. It should just taste of daiquiri.”

So, what keeps the daiquiri perpetually popular, a century after it was created? Its versatility and ability to adapt to modern tastes certainly plays a significant role. As cocktail culture continues to evolve, so do our expectations. Today’s daiquiri may feature artisanal rum blends, exotic fruit infusions and innovative garnishes, yet it retains the essence of its origins—a perfect balance of sweet, sour, and spirit that appeals to seasoned connoisseurs and newcomers alike.

Partaking in this year’s celebration? Our RHC clients have you more than covered. If you’re in NYC, head to the experts themselves at The Rum House, who have a Daiquiri Your Way menu that includes Classic, Dark, Flavored and Heminway variations. The Hard Rock Hotel’s rooftop bar RT60 has their own version of The Hemingway, and if you’re a lover of the classic, then the newly opened Xanadu roller arts is a must-visit where you can cool down and enjoy a refreshing daiquiri between skates. Heading out of New York? Enjoy a daiquiri on the ‘Greatest Hits’ cocktail menu at XR, Crossroads Hotel in Kansas City.

For those interested in an international taste, CasCades Restaurant in Bali (part of the Viceroy) has a traditional daiquiri on the menu. And finally, for an extravagant celebration of Hemingway’s version, Library By The Sea in the Cayman Islands offers an E. Hemingway Special featuring a 1930’s Bacardi Rum at a sweet price of $275.

For some at-home inspiration, below are five of our favorite easy-to-make recipes, including a non-alcoholic option. So, this National Daiquiri Day, how will you be enjoying it? Whether it is on the rocks or frozen, enjoyed in a tropical destination or in your backyard, whatever you fancy, raise your frosted glass to this hard-working cocktail classic.  

Hemingway Daiquiri

Created By: Nick Jackson, Head Bartender at The Rum House

  • 2 oz Ten to One White Rum 
  • .5 oz Lime juice
  • .5 oz Grapefruit juice
  • .25 oz Maraschino Liqueur
  • .25 oz Simple syrup
  • Glassware: Chilled Coupe
  • Garnish: Brandied Cherry
  • Method: Add all ingredients to a small tin. Add ice and shake. Double strain.

Hemingway Daiquiri (Alcohol-Free)

Created By: Giffard Liqueurs

  • 1.69 oz Giffard Grapefruit Alcohol-Free
  • .85 oz Lime Juice
  • .51 oz Cherry Syrup
  • .51 oz White Sugar Cane Syrup
  • Glassware: Chilled Coupe
  • Garnish: Brandied Cherry
  • Method: Add all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously, strain into a coupette, garnish & serve