The Daiquiri Also Rises

When it comes to an appreciation for a drink, one doesn’t have look further than Ernest Hemingway. Certainly, he was a literary genius, a lover of bullfights and fishing, but he also was a devoted daiquiri connoisseur, specifically imbibing the Hemingway Daiquiri or Papa Doble (made with white rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur), a drink he coined during his time in Havana, Cuba.

Cuba Libre

At Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar, with four locations in Atlantic City, N.J.; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; and Orlando, Fla., management decided that the best way to honor Hemingway's birthday in July and his contribution to the literary and beverage world, as well as celebrate National Daiquiri Day on July 19th, was to offer guests a new daiquiri for each day of July. Each priced at $10, the 31 daiquiris will be made with Cuba Libre’s anniversary rum. Additionally, because Hemingway was an avid fisherman, a special fish dish will be featured each week of July for $25. The promotion will kick off June 29 with a four-course rum dinner sponsored by Bacardi for $85, but only at the Philadelphia location.

The promotion was born six months ago after Chef/Partner Guillermo Pernot traveled to Havana, Cuba, and spent time absorbing the local culture, notably hanging out at Hemingway’s old haunt, La Floridita, where the Papa Doble was created.

Papa DobleBob Gallo, partner and director of operations for GuestCounts Hospitality at Cuba Libre, said he and his team having been working on creating the fun and fresh daiquiris for a few months. By collaborating with his bartenders and engaging in a lot of “tasting and drinking,” Gallo and his team were able to tweak and modify recipes that are a perfect fit for Cuba Libre’s daiquiri celebration, with iterations that include apricot, mango, melon, guava- and kiwi-flavored daiquiris.

Specifically, Cuba Libre will celebrate Hemingway’s birthday — July 21 — with a $10 Papa Doble daiquiri.

Gallo looks at this month-long promotion not only as a way to celebrate one of the greatest authors of the 20th century, but also to bring attention back to the much-disparaged daiquiri.

“I’m trying to have some authenticity [with the drinks] and trying to bring back the umbrella drinks, so six months ago we started tinkering around with our program to get excited about the daiquiri again,” he explains. His motivation was to get back to the classic version of the drink: A true daiquiri is more than just a sweet and frozen drink. “It’s not quite liquid and it’s not quite frozen,” Gallo explains.

Undoubtedly, Hemingway is an alluring figure, someone who brings about as much praise as he does criticism, much like the daiquiri itself. However, the daiquiri continues to gain respect as flavor profiles change, palates evolve and guests begin to appreciate the subtle nuances of the oft-misinterpreted beverage.

“What can be better than daiquiris and the summertime and eating seafood,” Gallo says. “It’s wonderfully seasonal and the ingredients that we use are all fresh and refreshing. If you love great foods and great drinks, people will want to come and help us celebrate the terribly maligned daiquiri.”