Classic Cocktails with a Twist: Daiquiris

Bon Vivant Daiquiri at Cuba Libre in Washington. DC.

Bon Vivant Daiquiri at Cuba Libre in Washington, DC.

Two pro tips on daiquiris:

1) They require three ingredients: rum, citrus (preferably lime) and sugar.

2) If it comes out of a machine on a wall, it’s not a daiquiri.

But this doesn’t mean that there isn’t room to play with daiquiris. Here are three different approaches to the refreshing classic.


Vance Henderson, the beverage manager at Cuba Libre in Washington, DC, knows flavors like strawberries have become synonymous with even traditional daiquiri preparations, and encourages new enthusiasts to try a different summer fruit: cantaloupe.

The melon adds natural sweetness to the restaurant’s Bon Vivant, while the addition of Licor Beirao, an anise-flavored Portuguese liqueur, lends herbal notes.


Bon Vivant Daiquiri at Cube Libre

  • 1 cantaloupe
  • ½ quart granulated sugar
  • ½ quart water
  • 2 lime wedges
  • 1 ¼ ounces rum, preferably Papa’s Pilar Blonde Rum
  • ¾ ounce Licor Beirao
  • Ice


1. To make the cantaloupe purée, peel, deseed and purée the whole cantaloupe, then combine the melon with the sugar and water in a sauce pan and heat on low until rolling simmer. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

2. In a shaker, muddle the lime wedges and add 1 ¼ ounces of the cooled cantaloupe mixture. Add ice, rum and the Licor Beirao, shake, then strain into a chilled glass. Garnish, if desired, with a spice-dusted slice of canteloupe.



While many would argue against it, Justin Anderson. the bar manager at La Sirena Clandestina in Chicago, feels ice is a great equalizer for daiquiris.

“Rum varies from barrel to barrel, and limes are a crap shoot no matter what. So I use more ice. I’m all for tradition, but I think the ice helps balance things out.”

Sirena Clandestina uses two rums — both light and dark — in its traditional, hand-shaken daiquiris. The dark rum is aged and the barrel char gives the drink depth, then Anderson adds another layer with  bitters.

Anderson isn’t a fan of pairing cocktails with food (“they should be consumed on their own”) but when pressed, suggested that spicy and savory dishes, such as ceviche or empanadas, would complement the drink’s dryness.

“It’s simple, so keep it simple,” said Anderson, adding, “It’s also a good way to live life.”

Classic Daiquiri at Sirena Clandestina

  • 3 tsp superfine sugar
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 tb strawberry preserves
  • 1 ounce aged rum
  • 1 ounce white rum
  • Dash of bitters

In a cocktail shaker, shake all ingredients, until sugar is dissolved. Add ice cubelets. Shake again.  Strain into frosted glass. Serve over crushed ice.



“A daiquiri is beautiful, but deceptively hard to get right,” Tom Chadwick, the beverage director for New York’s Cienfuegos, asserts.

Daiquiri served up at Cienfuegos in Chicago.

Madder Rose at Cienfuegos in New York.

With all of the options for rum, sugar, ice levels and proportions, the hardest thing about making the drink is consistency, he explains.

Chadwick prefers froth — he doesn’t strain his daiquiris — and likes to play with different citruses, such as the grapefruit juice he uses for Cienfuegos’ floral Madder Rose.

Madder Rose at Cienfuegos
  • 1 ½ ounces rose petal-infused Flor de Cana 4
  • ½ ounce Aperol
  • ½ ounce grapefruit juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • ¾ ounce lime juice
Shake, double strain and serve up in a coupe glass.