Three tips for the perfect Daiquiri
The Daiquiri is what i like to call an ‘interview drink’. It’s one of those easy to learn, nigh impossible to master cocktails that is very difficult to get right consistently. To be able to make the drink well, you need to really understand your products and be able to balance them all. A good Daiquiri shows that a bartender has a broad understanding of how drinks are put together beyond simply following specs and shaking liquids together.
It is often noted that the fewer ingredients in a drink the harder it is to get right. A friend of mine, a long-term stalwart of the bar industry who has worked all over the world often bemoans the almost mythical rarity of a well-made gin and tonic. It seems so simple, plenty of ice – packed from top to bottom, a decent portion of tasty gin, tonic that’s been poured with care so it isn’t pancake flat and a thick wedge of fresh lime. None of these ingredients are hard to acquire or use, but the level of care that needs to go into making the sum of them great is so hard to find.
If the difference between making a good drink and a great one is simply a matter of arming yourself with more knowledge and taking a bit more care, these are three things to think about when making your next Daiquiri.
Balance is paramount
Drinks balance in many ways, is a theme that runs through just about any great drink. In this instance we’re referring to the balance of sweetness and sour contributed by simple syrup and fresh lime juice, but balance doesn’t always have to be a duel of sweet vs sour. A Negroni for example is a wonderful example of how alcohol, coupled with astringent botanicals can balance sweetness.
Generally speaking, if your rum is ‘down the middle’ – Think Bacardi carta blanca or Havana 3 – then a 50:20:20 spec is how we would be inclined to go with our measurements. But there’s a lot of scope for playing around. Generally, you would only ever want to lose sugar and citrus out of this recipe as adding more will only serve to make the drink more syrupy and less refreshing.
If you’re struggling with balance, try this:
Mix up some perfect 1:1 sugar syrup. Go the whole hog, use gram scales to weigh your water and your caster sugar into equal parts and stir or blend until dissolved. Squeeze yourself some fresh lemon juice from some decent lemons which are neither green and super-sour or soft, over-ripe and starting to sweeten. Then, using those scales make 3 mixtures. One with 15ml sugar, 20ml lemon, one with 20ml sugar, 20ml lemon and one with 20ml sugar and 15ml lemon.
This technique isn’t perfect, but as a rule the first mixture should be on the sour side of balanced, the second should be about as close as I can direct you without being there to mix it myself and the last one should be over-sweet. Blind taste these until you can pick the middle one when someone else makes it.
Know your ingredients
This, like all three points on this list could be considered an extension of balance, but we’re far more interested in the individual ingredients here and how they affect the drink. Provided your sugar syrup isn’t made by a cowboy, this should be the least notable of the three and it’s covered above, so we’ll leave it out.
Lime juice needs to be fresh, you might be able to get away with using it one day after it’s made providing it’s been vacuumed but there’s a can of worms here I’d rather leave unopened so that is down to you and your individual bar.
The most important thing is to taste your citrus every day: Unless you’re blessed with an incredible fruit supplier, the quality and origin of your citrus will probably vary wildly. A South American lime for example, is going to have a different flavour profile to one produced in Europe so being able to taste your citrus and say “hey, this is really sweet today”, and then act accordingly with your measures is not only very clever, it’s how you make the best drinks.
The third part of the triangle is everyone’s favourite bit, the Rum – let’s face it, nobody drinks Daiquiris for the vitamin C. Rum is a wonderfully diverse spirit, and the difference between say Flor de Cana 4 and Zacapa 23 couldn’t be much more pronounced, so knowing whether your rum is sweet or dry, soft or spirituous can really help you to decide how much citrus and sugar to pair it with.
Try experimenting with different ratios to find something that works with each spirit, the permutations are endless.
Aeration, aeration, aeration.
The final key element in a great Daiq is aeration. Aeration, or the presence of tiny air bubbles mixed into a liquid via shaking is one of bartending’s largely unsung heroes. Harry Craddock’s oft-quoted mantra “Drink it whilst it’s laughing at you” is perfect here, and a Daiquiri will sit and laugh at you for about 10 minutes before it dies a sad, flat death.
The trick to properly aerating your drink is in the shake. Always shake a Daiquiri as hard as you possibly can and this applies for all manner of drinks in this style, from Margaritas to Cosmos and try to accentuate the ends of the shake where the ice and liquid hit the end of the tin. The only place air gets folded into the liquid is when it’s forced in, when the whole mixture smashes into the inside of your shaker. Your pretty rolling shake, whilst amazing for a whole host of other drinks, has no place here I’m afraid.
This, if you’ve ever wondered, is the reason that you’ve never made a nice stirred drink with citrus in it, at least not one that’s served straight up. Try making a simple, balanced Daiquiri, splitting it in two and stirring one half, shaking the other. The results speak for themselves. One half will be light and crisp, the other half will be dank and syrupy and when it comes to the Daiquiri, there’s simply no competition between the two.
I hope this little guide will help push your Daiqs to the next level, it’s one of our most iconic mixtures and deserves to be made well. We look forward to coming and trying yours in the near future and would love to hear how you get on, especially if this article has helped you improve. Get in touch with us @copperpotbar on Twitter, Insta and Facebook to let us know how you get on.
We’ve got a youtube channel coming which will feature loads of great tutorial videos to help you hone your skills even further, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Lots of love.
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