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.

Have you ever sampled a Daiuiri?

  • Yes and I like them
  • Yes, but I didn't care for it
  • No
See results without voting

U.S. Troops at Daiquirí, Cuba 1898

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Chuck profile image

Chuck 8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Nicholas - Thank you for visiting my Hub and for sharing the Miami Herald article. I have added this link to the links section of the Hub above so people can see it there as well.

As to which story is correct, I can't say. With things like this people's memories change over the years and the stories they tell often take on a life of their own and evolve over time. Since the discovery of the daiquiri was not a major historic event no one thought to record it at the time. As a result bits and pieces were probably told here and there and years later some people decided to record and save the story. The result is a collection of stories about the event which vary in their details. Both of these agree on a few core facts but I doubt that either is totally accurate account.

But, so what. Both are good tales to relate while enjoying a Daiquiri with friends.

Thanks again for your comment and for sharing the link.


Nicholas 8 years ago

According to this article from the 1937 Miami Herald at http://www.strawberry-daiquiri-recipe.com/strawber... there is a slightly different version of the history of the daiquiri... which one is correct?? Both stories seem credible...


guslis 8 years ago


I think I would toast to you and all of those brave men who fought for cuban Independence. I do not hate the US just my observation as a concern US Naturalized Citizen. I apologized to you if I came across to strong but The subject of the Spanish American War strikes a nerve and the role the US played in Controling Cuba. When you Say that Cox took credit for Naming the famous drink I don't think it is correct either. Who named Daiquiri, Cuba? It is the name that the Taino aboriginal people of the region called it. In Cuba the drink was well established in cuba way before the war of 1898 in Habana, Camaguey, Cienfuegos, Mantazas and Santiogo de Cuba. It has origins from the Bacardi Cuban Rum since 1863.

Mr. Cox did bring it to the US and who knows what connections he had with Randolph Hearst or Teddy Rosevelt and all the others that went there to try to make Cuba another Colony of the US instead of Spain. I personally feel that would not be the worst case scenarion for Cuba looking at what Castro has done to his own people and country. We probably would have been better off with the USA.

Chuck profile image

Chuck 8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Guslis - thanks for your comment and the additional information you provided on this topic. While I did use the word "invent" once in article, I also, in the second last paragraph, acknowledge that, in all likelihood, Mr. Cox simply took a liking to a popular local Cuban drink and introduced it to his friends in the United States. Further, while the mixture which constitutes the drink, was not invented by Mr. Cox, he was the one who both introduced it to the U.S. and gave it the name by which it is now known. So he did play a significant role in the spread of the drink that is now enjoyed by people well beyond the limited confines of the area surrounding Daquiri, Cuba.

So, rather than stressing and hating an entire nation over who should get credit for discovering that the mixture of lime and rum makes a refreshing beverage, why don't you relax, accept my thanks for your additional information and drink a toast with a daquiri to your grandfather and the other brave men who fought in the War of 1895? Thanks again for your comment.

guslis 8 years ago

This version of the daiquiries is non-sense. My grandfather fought in what in US is referred to the "Spanish American War" of 1898. In Cuba it is referred as the War of 1895 which is the War of Cuban Indepedance from Spain. It was the last of many other wars or attempts made by the colonist for Independance. For your information just because someone researches the library of concress does not mean it correct history. We Cubans have been drinking Daiquiries way before the Americans went to intervene in 1898 in Cuban Independance. Fact I personally know this because my immediate family has told me this and other Cubans from that region that I personlally know because my wife is from Santiogo de Cuba and her family. I believe what they have to say from word of mouth before any library of congress on this subject.

This is why people from around the world hate the US because the US thinks that it invented something that belongs to someone else. This is insulting to Cuban people.

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