Cocktail of the Month: Papa Doble Daiquiri

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Hemingway (center, in white) in La Floridita bar in Havana in 1955. Courtesy "Historic Photos of Ernest Hemingway."

When June arrives, it brings the first day of summer, the start of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and, of course, Father’s Day.

With Father’s Day still fresh in our minds, here’s a refreshing suggestion: Why not toast your pop with an Ernest Hemingway Daiquiri, also known as the Papa Doble.

Hemingway earned his fatherly nickname early on. Phil Greene, author of “To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion,” says the nickname dates back to when Hemingway lived in Paris in the 1920s. It appears as though Papa is what his firstborn son John, aka Bumby, called him. The nickname was further cemented into lore when another son, Gregory, wrote his 1976 book “Papa: A Personal Memoir.”

The original daiquiri is a mixture of rum, lime juice and simple syrup, belonging to the sour family of cocktails. Sours are mixed drinks containing a base liquor, lemon or lime juice and a sweetener.

The first daiquiri, invented around 1900, takes is moniker from Daiquiri Beach in Cuba. There are two stories about its inventor. The first involves a mining engineer named Jennings Cox, who was planning to entertain some guests from the U.S. when he discovered he had run out of gin. So, he improvised with rum, sugar and lime.

Another tale, reported by Wayne Curtis in his book “And a Bottle of Rum,” tells of William Shafter, a U.S. Army general who came ashore during the Spanish-American War in 1898. Shafter added ice to a local concoction of rum, lime juice and sugar. From there, it was christened: the daiquiri.

The Papa Doble daiquiri also has its roots in Cuba, at the bar called El Floridita. Hemingway began frequenting El Floridita around 1932, during visits to Havana from his home in Key West. It was around this time that he wrote much of “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” He was such a regular that the 1937 edition of the Floridita’s cocktail manual featured a version of the daiquiri named for him.

Hemingway made two simple changes, according to Greene. First, due to his distaste for sweet drinks, he had the daiquiri made without sugar. Second, to save time and effort while drinking, he began to order doubles (doble is Spanish for double). He would often drink a dozen of these frothy elixirs in one sitting,

“For the Daiquiri,” Greene writes, “he didn’t want sugar in his drinks (likely because he was diabetic), so he called for just a touch of maraschino liqueur in its place, and also added grapefruit juice to the usual lime juice.”

As Hemingway noted in Islands in the Stream,” he loved to drink “these double frozens without sugar. If you drank that many with sugar it would make you sick.”

This cocktail is a wonderful hot-weather refresher. Its bold grapefruit twang and tartness give it a pleasant distinction and its lack of sweetness gives it a bold taste. The extra rum elevates it above any frou-frou type of summer drink. Best of all, it’s easily mixed up in a blender for a cookout or a pool party.

Papa Doble Daiquiri

3 3/4 oz. Bacardi or Havana Club rum

Juice of 2 limes

Juice of ½ grapefruit

6 drops of maraschino liqueur (or cherry brandy)

Fill a blender 1/4 full of ice, preferably shaved or cracked. Add rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice and maraschino. Blend on high until the mixture turns cloudy and light-colored.

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