A Brief and Incomplete History of the Daiquiri
The Spoils of War
October 8, 2006
While checking dates for the Spanish American war for my previous posting on the repeal of the telephone tax and the little additional refund we, the over-taxed citizens of this great republic, can expect come next spring,
I was struck by the entry for 22 June 1898. I was on the Library of Congress website (see links below) in the section containing a chronology of that short war. The entry read "22 June U.S. General Shafter's troops land at Daiquirí, Cuba."
Immediately becoming curious as to whether or not the cocktail known as the daiquiri was linked to the Spanish-American War, I began searching the Internet for daiquiri and related words.
Sure enough, according to generally accepted lore, the daiquiri was supposedly invented by an American mining engineer, named Jennings Cox, who happened to be in Cuba at the time of the war. And, not just in Cuba but living and working in a small town along the east coast of Cuba named, you guessed it, Daiquirí!
The town of Daiquirí also happened to be the site chosen by the U.S. Navy to land Army troops under the command of General Shafter.
Once in control of the area, the military apparently set up some type of headquarters in the vicinity because Mr. Cox made the acquaintance of a U.S. Navy Admiral named Lucius Johnson. Cox introduced Johnson to the daiquiri and Johnson apparently liked the drink so much that he took the recipe, along with a sufficient supply of rum, back home to Washington where shared it with his colleagues at the Army and Navy Club.
Some histories credit a fellow named Harry Stout with the invention of the daiquiri and others simply claim that the drink recipe simply migrated to the U.S. as a sort of souvenir brought home by American tourists returning from vacation of Havana pub crawling in pre-Castro Cuba. However, the Cox-Johnson link seems to be the both the most common reference and most logical explanation.
While Mr. Jennings Cox is credited with introducing the daiquiri to Admiral Johnson who introduced it to the U.S. (at least the drinking crowd in DC), most sources agree that he simply copied the local custom of mixing lime with rum (with both limes and rum being both common and popular in Cuba) to produce a beverage to sip as he sat by the sea relaxing after a hard day's work.
Armed with this trivia, we can now celebrate the end of paying for the war, that ended 108 years ago, by treating ourselves the drink that was brought home as a part of the spoils of that war.
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U.S. Troops at Daiquirí, Cuba 1898
Links for More Information about the Spanish-American War and Daquiris
- Library of Congress Home Page
Excellent source for American History including thousands of photos.
- Chronology of Spanish-American War
A very complete chronology of events leading up to, during and following the Spanish-American War
- Link to Library of Congress site for Above photo of American Troops landing at Dqiquiri in Cuba
Link to page on Library of Congress site that contains photo of troops encamped at Daiquir, Cuba and some information about the event.
- Strawberry Daiquiri Recipe Trivia - Invention of the Original Daiquiri
For an alternative version of this tale check out this link to an 1937 Miami Herald newspaper article. My thanks to Nicholas who provided this link in his comment below.
- 33 Recipies for Daiquiris
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