Podcast Summary:

“Anyway, I’ll Drink to That” is a Boozn Sam’s production, exploring the fun, quirky, and fascinating tales of drinks (Daiquiri in this episode) that define culture, history and the world. Every drink has a story to tell, and I’m going to tell it…as true as I can. Hosted by Sam, from Boozn Sam’s. Saddle up with a good cocktail and give me a few minutes of your time for a mystery surrounding a drink that changed the world.

TLDR; – Daiquiri Recipe

  • 2 oz of white rum
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 3/4 oz simple sugar

Combine, shake, toss over ice and garnish with a lime.

Episode 4 Details:

Democracy, Famous Writers, and Copper

A few strong drinks to start the day, a pouch of tobacco in your pocket, and a good buzz from a Daiquiri before heading to the mines and putting in an honest day’s work sounds delightful. Or, how about writing all morning and pulling up a stool at your favorite bar, a bar made famous because your Ernest Hemingway and you invented a version of the Daiquiri.

Transcript of Podcast:

*This is the entire podcast episode in written form. Do not read if you want the audio version to be spoiled.

The guests would arrive soon and there was no time to waste. They had come a long way. To counter the stifling heat and humidity, Jennings needed something refreshing. Then it struck him, as he took a moment to ponder how to delight his guests. Normally, he’d offer gin but he was out of that. He needed something different. Something…unique. That they had never had before.

He ran his hands through his hair. Or rather, he started in the middle of his head and, following the deep part of his hair line, spread his hands down to either ear and flattened his dark hair. Jennings still remembered the first time he’d made the drink and he grinned to himself as he walked.

He was average height and skinny, looking quite dapper in a seersucker suit. Born in the East, son to a multi-generational legacy of politicians and (fin – en – seers) financiers, Jennings was educated at a prominent school and employed by a steel company before making his way overseas and spending the rest of his life working for a multi-national iron company. 

He thought back to before his arrival here, when Theodore took a famous group of soldiers up a hill and made way for American business to travel over in droves and capitalize on an untapped mine of business opportunities. Capitalism, baby! World democracy, oh yeh! 

The hill Theodore took his troops up was just that. A hill. But, the hill sat on top of a ridge line. And on top of the ridge line there were block houses and cannons. To get to the ridge line also meant going through trenches and barb wire.  

On the day when that famous American force took the hill, almost 20% of the troops were killed or injured, despite outnumbering the enemy 16 to 1. They fought the uphill battle against cannon fire and bullets whizzing by their heads until they finally took the top and secured victory.

These volunteer cavalryman came from throughout the southwest of the United States and ended up here, as infantrymen. Shortly after their decisive victory the war ended and the businessmen appeared.

Their path now cleared by blood, they devoured the country like junkies looking for a fix… Oh! Apologies…. I meant, they entered the country like good stewards spreading democracy.

In their spread of democracy, they found a people and a land ripe for the taking. This is what brought Jennings to the Sierra Maestra Mountains on the southeast short of Cuba to a small town that bears the name of this drink.

They lived lives of luxury too. Jennings was testament to that. A substantial salary. Tobacco rations. The landscape. Gorgeous. The culture. Beautiful. It’s no wonder that famous authors, including one manly hunter, lived here as an old man by the sea, and, with a voracious appetite, stuck to a firm daily diet of an altered version of this drink made just for him in a bar that today bears a statue of him in commemoration.

All of this didn’t matter right now though for Jennings. As he walked to the tienda, smothered by the tropical humidity, he had a plan. The drink he had in mind hadn’t disappointed in the past. Not the first time when, after him and another visiting engineer had finished inspecting the copper mines he was in charge of and needed a sweet reward. 

They’d taken what they had on hand, a clear liquor, and combined it with some other local ingredients. It was a hit then, and a hit after, at the Venus Bar, where, on most mornings, him and his engineer pals would imbibe in this tart treat before heading over to the mines. 

Now this was the life! A few strong drinks to start the day, a pouch of tobacco in your pocket, and a good buzz before heading to the mines and putting in an honest day’s work doing work that would protect hard working miners who carved copper out of the ground under dangerous conditions. 

This carefree attitude of Americans at the time was summarized perfectly by another figure, who rose to fame a few decades later. F. Scott Fitzgerald, in his first book, where he penned this drink in print for the first time ever, spoke of love warped by greed, hedonism, and status seeking. 

Even though the book is over 100 years old, the theme rings true today. Maybe more true than ever. One has to wonder. But, not to judge. That’s now what I’m here doing. I’m just having a drink and telling a story about a man, Jennings, who, in desperation, with limited ingredients, created a new cocktail.

He didn’t know it at the time, but when he left the tienda and walked home through the sticky heat carrying a bottle of this local liquor, and two other ingredients, that he would be solidifying a drink that, a decade later, would end up being a favorite among the navy.

For practical reasons of course. The military is always practical. So, what better way to have your drink and your health than by sipping on something served ice cold with citrus that could ward off the dreadful scurvy, which was a real fear for the navy at sea.

But, before the drink gained national recognition, it started humble, with a company well known in its home country but not too well known elsewhere. Jennings Cox stayed in Cuba until 1913, drinking this drink until his failing health forced him to return to the US.

By this time the drink he created and first named the “rum sour” was international. The name softened too, and the drink took on variations. Like the version Hemingway had daily when in Cuba. Or, any of the other tropical versions around today.

The drink grew in complexity to meet the insatiable and evolving needs of youthful patrons who threw down bills like pocket change and slurped back crushed ice versions in red, blue, and orange. 

Maybe they sought to be transported back to the beginning and leave the cold, impersonal concrete cities behind for the warm beaches and sunshine of Cuba. Lamenting they were born in a different time. A time with less culture attached to the drinks slung in bars that all looked the same and only varied in their zip codes. 

The clear rum with a burning, pungent flavor, cut by an added sweetness. It could make patrons wish they were in that small beach town in Cuba that became the drink’s namesake.

So could the original version – clear Bacardi rum, sugar, limes.

 Created somewhere on the spectrum of reckless joy and sheer luck. 

The Daiquiri.

Named after the beach town of Daiquiri.

Which was near Santiago De Cuba, where Jennings Cox worked as head engineer of the copper mines. 

Which were operated once more after Teddy Roosevelt led his famous Rough Riders, who, ironically, did not ride on horses since they could not be easily shipped overseas from America, but instead ran on foot through trenches, cannon balls, and bullet fire, to take the ridge of San Juan Hill, secure the posts there, and, ultimately the victory in the Cuban War for independence, 

which the US had intervened in…. Out of the goodness of their hearts, no doubt. 

Anyway… I’ll drink to that.