Earlier this year, T.G.I. Friday’s version of the Hemingway Daiquiri caused a bit of a Twitter kerfuffle when several cocktail enthusiasts noticed that Friday’s recipe wasn’t very authentic (in fact, it bore no resemblance to the Hemingway Daiquiri we all know and love) yet claimed to be “just as Ernest Hemingway drank it.”
Friday’s version called for X-Rated Liqueur, Skyy Infusions Citrus Vodka, ruby red syrup, and fresh lemon and lime juice. “I just threw up in my mouth a little,” tweeted Rocky Yeh. “That is a bold-faced lie, TGI Friday’s,” wrote Diane Pizzuto. Jake Parrott wondered, “Can @TGIFridays confirm that Hemingway drank X-Rated?”
Hemingway definitely would not have ordered any drink with X-Rated Liqueur in it (he was too manly to order bachelorette party cocktails). So now we are left with the question, what is in the real Hemingway Daiquiri — and do the people who got so upset at the T.G.I. Friday’s interpretation know the answer?
I’m not questioning anyone’s cocktail recipe knowledge, but rather pointing out that the commonly accepted recipe for a Hemingway Daiquiri may not have really been what Papa was drinking at the now-famous La Florida bar in Havana, Cuba — where the Hemingway Daiquiri was born. We know for sure there wasn’t any flavored vodka or “ruby red syrup” (whatever that is) in Hemingway’s cocktail. We also know that various accounts of Hemingway’s drinking habits are hazy — probably because the people doing the accounting got hammered trying to keep up with Papa and his twelve-daiquiris-a-night habit.
After having shared many evenings with Hemingway in La Florida, journalist and longtime friend of Hemingway, A. E. Hotchner, wrote in his memoir called Papa Hemingway, “A Papa Doble was compounded of two and a half jiggers of Bacardi White Label Rum, the juice of two limes and half a grapefruit and six drops of maraschino.”
This recipe makes a very strong, very sour drink — not out of the realm of possibility for Hemingway, who didn’t take sugar in his cocktails, but why so heavy on the lime and grapefruit? Many of us would probably prefer the T.G.I. Friday’s version, X-Rated Liqueur and all, to this one.
Papa definitely wasn’t into girly drinks, so this could have been his double-the-rum-no-sugar Daiquiri. As one of Hemingway’s characters in Island in the Sun put it, “If you drank that many with sugar it would make you sick.”
It’s worth noting that Hotchner didn’t have a Papa Doble until 1948, by which time La Florida had already become a tourist attraction because of Hemingway. Photos of Hemingway and his wife hung on the walls, and Hotchner wrote that the cocktail “requested by most tourists” was the Papa Doble.
But would the bar have really served this sour concoction to tourists? If the bartenders were trying to please their customers, it seems more likely they were giving tourists their Daiquiri Num. 3 (2 ounces of Bacardi rum, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of grapefruit juice, 1 teaspoon of maraschino liqueur, and juice of half a lime). This is basically what we know as the Hemingway Daiquiri today, though certainly not the version that Hemingway himself enjoyed.
“But of course, there’s what really matters: Is this a good drink?” writes journalist Wayne Curtis. The Hemingway Daiquiri is still on the tart side and not as good as a classic Daiquiri, but you can sip on one and escape into your fantasy of becoming a world-famous writer contemplating his next book over a nice cocktail.
2 ounces White Rum
1 tsp Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 ounce Grapefruit Juice
3/4 ounce Lime Juice
1 tsp Simple Syrup
Combine ingredients in a shaker, and add ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.