The early classic age of cocktail mixology was primarily focused on relatively simple drinks that emphasised and accentuated the flavour of the central spirit, each of which weaved a fascinating story of the ingredients involved.
However, the story of the Daiquiri, one of David Embury’s six basic drinks, is quite different indeed, and depending on how you define a cocktail and how it is made, could be one of the first cocktails ever mixed.
Before we had the Daiquiri, a mix of Cuban rum, lime juice and sugar that has gotten more famous and more popular the more fruity variations are created of it, there was grog.
Grog was a mixture of rum, water, lemon/lime juice and sugar mixed as a long drink and initially intended to be used as medicine.
In the Age of Sail, one of the biggest problems for sailors was malnutrition; as conditions at sea were so turbulent and troublesome during journeys that could last for months if not years, fresh fruits and vegetables were basically impossible to store.
As a result, most sailors drank alcohol and ate hard tack, which would provide subsistence but also helped to contribute to scurvy, a condition caused by vitamin C deficiency.
Grog, whilst not an elegant solution, did help and became very popular and common along the Caribbean.
The name itself came from Daiquiri, a village near Santiago that was home to a beach and an iron mine.
According to the most popular version of the story, a mining engineer by the name of Jennings Cox who was based in Cuba invented the drink and then brought it to New York when he returned to the United States.
Another story cites congressman William Chanler, the man who bought the iron mines of Santiago in 1902, as the populariser of the drink.
It remained relatively limited to New York until it was popularised by Rear Admiral Lucius Johnson in 1909 and became very popular in the 1940s due to rum being the most available spirit to many people during the Second World War.
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