The Papa Doble
Ernest Hemingway was an aficianado of the frozen Daiquiri. In a June, 1939 letter to his son Patrick (11), commenting on a recent boxing match, he wrote: “[Tony] Galento certainly came very close to knocking [Joe] Louis out and if he can do that on beer I wonder what he could do on Frozen Daiquiris?” Later in the same letter, he went on to say, “We stayed up late and I drank a few highly frozen Daiquiris just to see what their effect would be (it was moderately terrific and made me feel a friend of all mankind). Then the next day Mr. Finney and Papa went out to fish and were both sound asleep but quite comfortable when a huge marlin took the bait...”
Damned fish, spoiling a good hangover nap....
Hemingway’s love of the Daiquiri is usually traced to his favorite bar in Havana, The Florida, aka, “El Floridita;” however the above letter suggests that he’d already developed a taste for them during his Key West years, before he moved to Cuba.
While living in Cuba, Hemingway became a regular at El Floridita, which was owned and manned by Constantino (Constante) Ribailagua. Hemingway didn’t like sugar in his drinks; it even showed up in his prose. In "Islands in the Stream," young Tom Hudson made a drink for his father, with the assurance, “I put lime, bitters, and no sugar in it.” As an aside, one can assume that Hemingway would be horrified at the number of frozen Daiquiri bars in his beloved French Quarter, especially (atrocity of atrocities!) the one now occupying The Old Absinthe House Bar. That Papa and Constante’s hand-crafted creation could have helped spawn the grain alcohol Slurpees of today would no doubt have him spinning in his grave. But I digress.
Double Frozen Daiquiri No Sugar
Page 30 of the Floridita menu contains the recipe that we’ve come to know as the Hemingway Daiquiri, though it is misspelled as the “E. Henmiway” Special:
2 ounces Bacardi
1 Teaspoonful Grape Fruit Juice
1 Teaspoonful Marraschino
The juice of 1/2 lemon (sic)
Shake well and serve frappe.
Please note my comment about the use of “lemon.” This is a common error in transcription, “lost in translation,” so to speak. In Cuba, the term “limon” can be used to refer to either a lemon or a lime, and to differentiate, “limon verde” is often used to specify “green lemon,” or lime. The menu itself confirms this, as the Spanish-language side of the recipe indeed calls for “Jugo 1/2 limon verde.” Gringo mixologist beware!!
Hemingway’s writings were chock full of drink references. A few excerpts from the novel "Islands in the Stream:"
The Floridita was open now and he bought the two papers that were out, Crisol and Alerta , and took them to the bar with him. He took his seat on a tall bar stool at the extreme left of the bar. His back was against the wall toward the street and his left was covered by the wall behind the bar. He ordered a double frozen daiquiri with no sugar from Pedrico, who smiled his smile which was almost like the rictus on a dead man who has died from a suddenly broken back, and yet was a true and legitimate smile, and started to read Crisol.
“...he had drunk double frozen daiquiris, the great ones that Constante made, that had no taste of alcohol and felt, as you drank them, the way downhill glacier skiing feels running through powder snow ....”
"I love it," he said out loud.
"Drinking. Not just drinking. Drinking these double frozens without sugar. If you drank that many with sugar in it would make you sick."
"Ya lo creo. And if anybody else drank that many without sugar they would be dead."
"Maybe I’ll be dead."
"No, you won’t. You’ll just break the record and then we’ll go to my place and you’ll go to sleep and the worst thing that will happen is if you snore."
"Did I snore last time?"
"Horrores. And you called me by about ten different names in the night."
He was drinking another of the frozen daiquiris with no sugar in it and as he lifted it, heavy and the glass frost-rimmed, he looked at the clear part below the frapped top and it reminded him of the sea. The frapped part of the drink was like the wake of a ship and the clear part was the way the water looked when the bow cut it when you were in shallow water over marl bottom. That was almost the exact color... “This frozen daiquiri, so well beaten as it is, looks like the sea where the wave falls away from the bow of a ship when she is doing thirty knots.”
She made it herself from the bottle Serafin had left in front of her on the bar and Thomas Hudson looked at it and said, “That’s a fresh water drink. That is the color of the water in the Firehole River before it joins the Gibbon to become the Madison. If you put a little more whisky in it you could make it the color of a stream that comes out of a cedar swamp to flow into the Bear River at a place called Wab-me-me.”
Gee, kinda reminds me of that night back in law school, trying to impress that girl from Pittsburgh: “You know, that Bartles and Jaymes Iced Tea you’ve got there reminds me of the Monongahela, where it meets the Allegheny to form the Ohio....... Wait, don’t go, what did I say?”
The Bacardi Cocktail
As noted above, I have a special appreciation for this drink. Indeed, the rum industry has brought us several notable trademark cases over the years, including the ongoing squabbles over the name Havana Club .
The Bacardi Cocktail was likely invented around the time of World War I, and reached some degree of popularity after Prohibition. But many bars and restaurants, conscious of the bottom-line, often substituted cheaper rums in lieu of the industry-leading Bacardi brand. The suits at Bacardi got wind of it, and Bacardi hauled a number of bar and restaurant owners into court. One such case made it to the New York Supreme Court. In the lawsuit Compania Ron Bacardi, S.A. v. Wivel Restaurant, Inc., Justice John L. Walsh’s decision enjoined the defendant “from selling or offering for sale any mixed drink under the name BACARDI cocktail unless such drink contains as its sole alcoholic ingredient rum produced by the plaintiff.”
From a public relations standpoint, it might seem an ill-advised for Bacardi to enforce its trademark so vigorously; after all, how often do you see someone suing the users of the product, as if biting the hand that feeds you? Remind you of anything recent? It’s perhaps similar to the tactics used by the music industry, suing file swappers to prevent the unauthorized downloading of music, using peer-to-peer file sharing software. Sue your own customers? Sometimes, it actually works!
El Floridita Bacardi Cocktail (Special)
The 1930s El Floridita menu contains a recipe for a Bacardi Cocktail (Special):
2 ounces Bacardi
1 dash Angostura
1/2 Teaspoonful Curacao
The juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 Teaspoonful Sugar
Shake and Strain
So, this one dispenses with the Grenadine, and adds Angostura bitters. Frankly, I think I prefer this one, the Grenadine can be a add a bit too much sweetness, and the inclusion of the island-flavored Angostura adds a nice Caribbean flavor to the drink. Delicious!
The Dixie Special
In closing, I note that the inside page of the Hotel Dixie’s (see previous post) menu offers, for 35 cents, a drink called the Dixie Special. While I am not certain if this is the same or a related drink, there is a Dixie Cocktail listed in Patrick Gavin Duffy’s 1934 The Official Mixer’s Manual:
1/2 jigger dry gin
1/4 jigger French Vermouth
1/4 jigger absinthe
Juice of 1/4 orange
2 dashes Grenadine
Shake well with cracked ice and strain, serve in a cocktail or wine glass.
I guess the subtitle for this drink could be, the Obituary Cocktail Goes to the Bronx. As they say, when in New York......
(This is part one of Phil's latest blog on hotel bar menus.Phil Greene will present a seminar on the Ramos Gin Fizz at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans July 19-23. Phil is also treasurer of the Museum of the American Cocktail.)