Frozen Daiquiris

The Daiquiri is a foundation for a huge number of cocktails, referred to at times as the Caribbean Trinity of rum, lime and sugar, originally named after a beach east of Santiago, Cuba just before the Spanish-American War.  Although lime, sugar and rum have been mixed long before throughout the Caribbean, the specific proportions in the recipe came together at this time.  It is one of my favorites, relying on the quality of the rum, and freshly squeezed limes.  Sweet frozen daiquiri drinkers may not realize how their favorite drink does not need to come out of a bottle of swill (AKA mix).  If you are reading this and normally buy a bottle of mix for any flavored daiquiri, please understand – nothing in that bottle is pure, and likely isn’t even real – that is to say no fruit – no lime juice, and sweeter than a fistful of candy bars.

I read an interesting story about the Strawberry Daiquiri (1863), Christian Zacharias haphazardly threw together the first Strawberry Daiquiri from his wife’s strawberry patch for a party during the American Civil War. The recipe would have been lost if not for a Confederate spy named James Welty, whose codename was Daiquiri.  He failed to remember vital intelligence concerning Union troop positions before the battle of Gettysburg due to too much of the strawberry overindulgence, leaving General Lee blind in his advancements. After the backbreaking battle was lost, General Lee’s only response to Welty was:  “Gettysburg, the war, all lost because of strawberries, Daiquiri?”

There is a reason for frozen drinks, why creating ice so densely fine is a tool for consuming alcohol – chilling liquid, adding air and texture, possibly opening up flavors, watering down the power of alcohol, as well as slowing the consumption of a powerful drink.  For example, if Zombies, and all the rum therein, were instead strained over ice, I would face-plant into oblivion in record speed, maybe not after one, or two, but far quicker than I would hope.  After all, no more than two Zombies were served to a customer in a Don the Beachcombers, where the drink was invented.  Crushed ice, or shaved ice is used to slow the transition, and thereby enjoying the drink longer.

With that said, I have not been a fan of frozen daiquiris for the reason of  peculiarly sweet packets or bottled mixers.  Fruity daiquiris have been mutilated with too much sugar, too many other ingredients, many times too much ice, the wrong rums, or worst of all – not enough rum.  I wanted to bring out the best flavors, and avoid the useless ones, excluding too much slush to sap the flavor out of the experience, not merely using any light rum, but mixing more than one kind for complexity.  Another main goal, and the reason for this post, I wanted to find the balance between drink and ice.

If strawberries are not in season, use frozen, but use no more than 3/4 the amount – still using fresh to breathe life into the flavor.  I tried purely frozen strawberries, and thought they were sweet, but felt they needed the freshness of even a tart, out of season strawberry. The genuine thrill of freshness never fails the taste buds, even sparingly offered.  The only banana I insist using is the level of ripeness reserved for cooking, such as banana bread, or banana cream pie.  Brown dots?  Not ripe enough.  Brown blotches?  Getting close.  If the banana is mostly brown, that is good enough.  If you can, wait until the banana has turned completely brown.  I’m talking about how much flavor this fruit will bring, the riper the banana – the more the banana will sweeten.  If you think they look disgusting, imagine how sweet they will taste in a drink.  If I’m going to eat a banana, I like a few freckles because I like flavor over texture.  For garnishing, I prefer a green-stemmed banana (I waited too long for my garnish banana…sticking a clove over a brown spot).

Since the Daiquiri is a Cuban drink, I wanted to use Cuban-styled rums.  I have not been able to purchase any Havana Club unfortunately, whose family stayed in Cuba, the brand I would choose if the embargo were not in place.  Some good rums got out though:  The family who created Bacardi escaped Castro, as did the family of the Matusalem brand of rum (Matusalem distills in the Dominican Republic, and Bacardi in Puerto Rico).  The venerable Beachbum suggests Plantation 3 Stars rum, which tastes delightful.  In the banana drink, I included Coruba dark rum, which is not Cuban, but Jamaican, for its sweet dark brown sugar flavor in the banana daiquiri, rather than a molasses flavor of other dark rums, and felt it blended remarkably well with the sweetness of Matusalem.

strawberry daiquiri2

 

Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri
2 oz Bacardi Silver
2 oz Matusalem Platino
4 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned & halved (if not in season 
  use 3 frozen & 1 fresh)
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz simple syrup (to taste - double for truly sweet drink)
3/4 oz cream 
6 oz shaved ice (to taste) 
1 strawberry, mini lime wedge, mounding tsp whipped cream for 
  garnish

In a blender combine rum, strawberries, lime juice, syrup, cream and ice and blend until strawberry is thoroughly combined.  Garnish:  Clean and hull a strawberry, fill with whipped cream, garnish your garnish with a tiny triangle of lime.  Serves two.

banana daiquiri2

Frozen Banana Daiquiri
4 1/2 oz Matusalem Platino
1 1/2 oz Coruba
4 extra ripe bananas, in pieces (passed the brown dot phase)
1 oz fresh lime juice 
3/4 oz simple syrup (to taste)
3/4 oz cream 
6 oz crushed ice
1/2 banana, cherry and clove for garnish

Blend all ingredients except ice in blender until smooth, creamy and firm.  Stir in shaved ice until preferred texture.  Garnish with dolphin banana with rinsed and dried cherry in its mouth, inserting a positioned clove for an eye.  If you feel the need for fins, slit a spot for a trimmed lemon peel, or pineapple leaf, or even shaping your fin from an Anna’s cookie.  It’s all for fun anyway, right?  Serves 4…only once, and then you’ll have to make another pitcher.

If you prefer to make banana daiquiris for two, here is the recipe for nearly half the amount, not strictly cutting the ingredient amounts in half.

2 oz Matusalem Platino
3/4 oz Coruba
2 very ripe bananas, in pieces
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup (to taste)
1/2 oz cream
3 oz crushed ice

Note:  Do you not own a blender, or are between blenders because your old one died?  An ice shaver works perfectly well, not to say it replaces a blender, but focusses on just the ice to scoop in after the ingredients have been pureed in a food processor, or muddled (both of which I have tried).

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Autumn at last!

Regarding the temperate climate, with broadleaf trees changing color seasonally, there is a charisma in the air, an inspiration, a profound unveiling of the inner self where breathing the cooler air and seeing the astonishing colors of the leaves reminds me of my genuine reflection.  I am not at peace.  Yet, this season brings a quiet in my heart I have waited for since last year.  Autumn is a journey of exploration, and all the realms entirely within myself.  Nature is on the move.  When it first arrives, it is as if it is an accident – that stunningly chilly morning.  Refreshing, on the other hand unnerving and disturbing, almost as if something is wrong.  Turns out it is good jacket weather, and time to eat some apples, and anything with them in it.

If you read my Apple Season cocktail from last year, I made a similar cocktail, again inspired by apples.  The first difference with this one is with the rum, using three rums instead a single rum and Applejack combination.  Not that all daiquiris require Cuban style rums, I wanted that flavor attention.  The Bajan rum spices the Matusalem, not as a spiced rum would, but in the same way salt enhances the richness in a dessert.  And the dark Coruba adds a lovely brown sugar flavor, rather than molasses.  Instead of just lime juice, I wanted to incorporate more flavor from the oils from the lime peal in the muddling, as well as the unique blending with the sweetness of the lemon peal.  Then, the amounts of cider and cider syrup** are increased to make a larger and sweeter drink.  I also wanted to change the bitters, feeling Regan’s orange bitters would give a better impression than the savory Angostura, particularly with both lemon and lime.  My first apple cocktail was a more refined drink, and needed double-straining, floating a delicately thin slice of apple to float.  The Autumn Daiquiri is a bit more playful, not only with flavors, but the unstrained salad-effect.

Autumn Daiquiri

Autumn Daiquiri
1 oz Matusalem Gran Reserva
1/2 oz Mount gay Eclipse
1/2 oz Coruba dark
1/2 lime (chopped)
1/4 lemon (chopped)
3/4 oz apple cider syrup**
2 1/2 oz apple cider
1/4 sweet apple (chopped)
2 dashes Regans' Orange Bitters No.6

Muddle lemon, lime, apple, syrup & bitters.  Add rest & shake hard with ice.  Pour unstrained into chilled old-fashioned glass (or collins glass).  Garnish with a hearty apple wedge.

**Apple Cider Syrup
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 cup apple cider
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Simmer just below boil for few minutes to reduce slightly, stirring regularly.  Take off heat and let stand until room temp.  This will taste better the next day, but ready to eat right now with your pancakes…or aebleskivers…or Swedish coffee bread.

A Great Vacation Drink

 

I’m on vacation.  Remember my mentioning my loving parents in sunny Florida?  Went on a drive down to Key West, a place I’ve wanted to go for a long time, not because of Ernest Hemingway’s stays there, or Tennessee Williams, but the romance of the place, the southernmost point in the continental United States, a place where one is closer to Havana than they are to Miami (106 to 127 miles).  While there I had an excellent mojito at the Mad Rooster, down the street from Sloppy Joe’s.  And later I tasted a fantastic daiquiri made with Flor de Caña at the Rum Barrel, who boast an impressive collection of over 100 different rums from around the world.  Even though I ordered the 7 year old, the friendly waitress said upon delivery of my drink, “The bartender sends his compliments, the 12 year instead.”  What a treat!

After returning with a warm glow of the fond experiences of the Keys, I felt another vacation drink was in order.  Though I should make something Cuban, Brazil calls to me:  Ice cold cachaça.  A Caipirinha will refresh nicely in this summer heat.

A word about cachaça – it could, maybe, if you put your imagination to it, resemble agricole-style rum. Cachaça is not distilled with molasses, but more directly from sugarcane juice.  And why I say it could be compared to agricole is because of the flavor.  A vegetal undertone prevails with every taste.  Other than that, I either do not have the sense to describe with proper vocabulary, or cannot separate the number of flavors therein.  I am a horrible reviewer for this very point.  I can tell you however, I like cachaça not merely for a wondrous drink called the Caipirinha, but for all the different variations cachaça can flourish into by introducing any combination of flavors to it.  For example, name any fruit, and it will likely taste perfectly balanced with cachaça.  I realize it’s a bold statement, yet think it can back it all up.

I want to tell you about the original, the straight to the point and most basic Caipirinha, and my favorite.  Even though I like pineapple more than any other fruit, if I had a choice I would prefer a straight Caipirinha.

Isn’t that pineapple amazing?

Caipirinha
2 oz cachaça
1/2 lime (cut into 8 pieces, or so)
1-3 Tbsp superfine sugar (to taste)

Muddle lime & sugar in mixing glass – get all the juice out.  Fill old-fashioned glass with ice & toss into shaking tin (fill again to chill).  Shake with cachaça & muddled lime until frost forms on tin.  Pour untrained into chilled glass.  Add more ice if desired.

Not only is the cachaça the  national cocktail of Brazil, I have heard many in Brazil wish to separate cachaça from rum, that is legally defining cachaça no longer as a rum, but as an independent spirit of its own class.  To learn more about this, visit http://www.legalizecachaca.com

If you try a Caipirinha, or some cachaça, please do not think you are tasting a different kind of rum, whether or not you think the two spirits are the same or not. Cachaça will surprise you if you have not tasted it before.  Take it as a warning, just as if you were about to drink orange juice when expecting apple juice.  I hope you like it.  I hope you like it and buy cachaça.  I like rum first, yet will support cachaça, and root for it.  How can I not when tasting the Caipirinha?