Rum well deserves its fun in the sun image. Those of us in the drinks business have been riding that concept for years. These days, however, having fun in the sun doesn’t quite have the same appeal. Truth be told, to me having fun in the sun sounds like a miserable waste of skin cells. My point though is that rum has more to contribute to the world than just being a summer fling, groovy companion for Coke, or part of the Mojito’s muddled cast.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying rum doesn’t look good parading around in summer wear. What I am saying is that it would look even better in a silky smooth and supremely delicious cocktail, namely an icy cold Daiquiri. Traditionally served wearing nothing but a chill and well placed lime notes, the classic drink may well be the sexiest cocktail to ever grace a glass.
Unfortunately, due to the steady loss of its habitat and the decimating effects of poaching, the Daiquiri is headed for extinction within our lifetime. What we need is an effective course of action that will stave off this human disaster before it’s too late. What we need is for someone to seize the moral high ground and proclaim, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any longer!”
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I’m relieved to report that someone of vision and stature has ascended through the mist and accepted the challenge.
That someone is New Yorker Benjamin Mèlin-Jones, nephew of Homère Clément, the founder of Martinique’s famed Habitation Clément and father of Rhum Agricole. More importantly, he is the closest thing this country has to a bona fide “Ambassador of Rum.” Tall, well spoken and classy in a Cary Grant sort of way, Mélin-Jones is an ideal spokesman and public face for Caribbean rum. Often quoted in publications and captured in sound bites, he has become a tireless advocate for the category and the industry as a whole.
Mélin-Jones’ first official act was the recent launch of “Save The Daiquiri” web site. The site is beautiful and its content details the origin and romantic history of the Daiquiri, as well as advancing numerous variations of the original recipe. Among those listed are the Creole Daiquiri, which is prepared with an added shot of Clément Créole Shrubb, Hemingway Daiquiri, which calls for a shot of maraschino liqueur and grapefruit juice, and the French Daiquiri, which is made with a splash of Chambord. The intent is for the site to become the closely guarded repository for the world’s most sensational Daiquiri recipes, most of which will be submitted by good folks from around the globe.
It’s interesting to note that the cocktail originated around 1905 in Santiago, Cuba, roughly 20 miles from the Daiquiri Iron Mine. It was created by a group of American engineers who originally prepared the drink in a tall glass packed with cracked ice. It was concocted with a teaspoon of sugar, fresh lime juice and 2-3 ounces of light rum. The finishing touch was stirring the concoction with a long handled spoon, a technique referred to as “swizzling or frosting.”
The cocktail quickly became an international phenomenon in the 1920s and '30s, especially in Cuba, which at the time was famous for having the swankest nightclubs and the most capable bartenders in the world. The Daiquiri was one of the drinks made famous in the works of Ernest Hemingway. Its popularity also received a huge boost in the early '60s when it was reported that the Daiquiri was President Kennedy’s favorite cocktail.
So I urge anyone interested in preserving this sultry slice of the good life to support the cause by visiting “Save The Daiquiri” web site and contributing your favorite Daiquiri recipes. I know I will.
After all, do you really want to look your children in the eyes and tell them that you had an opportunity to save the Daiquiri, but you chose to do nothing?