The daiquiri, an aristocrat among cocktails, has undergone a tumultuous transformation during its century-long reign. Allegedly dreamed up by an American working in Cuba at the time of that country’s war of independence from Spain, it consists, in its simplest and finest expression, of rum, lime juice, and sugar. That formula was elevated to a mixological art form by Constantino Vert, who experimented with different kinds of ice and liqueurs and came up with unique presentations at Havana’s La Floridita bar. The drink soon became the star of Cuba’s early-twentieth-century cocktail culture.
Sadly, that drink is not the daiquiri most of us are familiar with. That specimen is dispensed from a frozen-drink machine and finds its natural habitat in beach towns and college entertainment districts, made from gallons of artificially flavored mixes that contain everything from high-fructose corn syrup to propylene glycol. Many daiquiri dens even employ wine-based products that are made to taste like rum.
Fort Worth’s Magnolia Avenue may be an unlikely battleground for reconciling the daiquiri’s history, but the Banana Daiquiri at the Usual somehow manages to incorporate both classic and modern traditions. Yes, it is a blender drink—purists will scoff that it’s a DINO (daiquiri in name only)—but barman “Tiki Dave” Mayer uses natural ingredients, starting with overproof white rum from Jamaica. To that he adds fresh bananas, lime juice, and a bit of pineapple juice and simple syrup. Blended with ice and served in a tiki mug, the frosty beverage is playfully garnished with a “banana dolphin.” On second thought, Mayer’s daiquiri may have nothing to do with the traditional version, but it’s hot out, and this sure is refreshing. (Note: available only on Wednesdays.)
1 ounce white overproof rum
1 ounce white rum
1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
1 ounce pineapple juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
Combine ingredients in a blender with about half a cup of ice and blend until smooth. Serve in a ceramic tiki mug or a Collins glass, with a straw. Serves 1.
David Alan is the author of Tipsy Texan: Spirits and Cocktails from the Lone Star State.