Constantino Ribalaigua Vert is a legend in the world of cocktails. He started bartending at age 16 at La Floridita in Havana, Cuba, and bought the bar at age 20. Now, when I think about what I was doing between the ages of 16 and 20, well, it certainly wasn’t that impressive. But his contributions to mixology and history go on from there.
During Prohibition, Americans would flock to Cuba, and to his bar in particular. Cuba’s close proximity to the United States made it something of a vacation drinking destination; a Disney World of booze, if you will. And of all the bars in Havana, La Floridita was known as having the finest cocktails in the city, thanks to Constantino.
The prolific bartender conceived a whole host of drinks, but his claim to fame might be his catalog of Daiquiri variations. One in particular, the Daiquiri #3; makes the traditional lime version a touch sweeter and fruitier with the addition of grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur.
The bar, and the Daiquiri No. 3 in particular, were discovered by expatriate Ernest Hemingway, who spent every day posted up at the bar, ordering endlessly from Constantino. Legend tells of the famously diabetic author ordering the drink “with double the rum and none of the sugar.”
Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to drink a half-cup of rum mixed with a tablespoon of lime juice and a teaspoon each of maraschino liqueur and grapefruit juice, but it is absolutely undrinkable. Let’s just say that as much as Hemingway is a hero to a modern drinking man, he had more of a drinking problem than a refined palate. I’ll stick to the original recipe. Which, as many in our business don’t seem to know, was originally served blended. I serve mine on crushed ice when I don’t have a blender at the ready. But please, don’t serve it “up” as many bartenders do. It’s meant to be colder than Christmas.
As the sun here gets higher and higher in the sky every day, and the afternoons are longer than I can remember in recent moons, I reach for this one on a lazy Saturday afternoon and think to myself that I might have a better palate than our friend Mr. Hemingway, but damn it I’d love to be sipping this with him before an afternoon of spear fishing.
DAIQUIRI NO. 3/HEMINGWAY DAIQUIRI
• 2 oz. white rum
• ½ oz. lime juice
• ½ oz. 2:1 simple syrup
• 1 tsp. maraschino liqueur
• 1 tsp. grapefruit juice
Shake ingredients and serve over crushed ice, or blend in a blender for fifteen seconds. Garnish with a lime wedge.
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Jeffrey Morgenthaler is the bar manager at Pépé le Moko and Clyde Common, the acclaimed gastropub at the Ace Hotel in Portland, Oregon. He is also author of The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique.