The Classic Daiquiri is a timeless cocktail that has been enjoyed throughout the ages. The drink has been influenced by government officials, famous authors, celebrated engineers, and Hollywood starlets over the years. Walk into a restaurant bar today, and you will likely find a Daiquiri on the drink menu.
However, as popular as the Daiquiri has become, no other cocktail has been more galvanized and victimized. Did the Daiquiri prevent the spread of Malaria once upon a time? Or is the Daiquiri, and its many trendy high caloric sugar formulations, contributing to global obesity?
Regardless of history and perception, the Daiquiri is an enjoyable cocktail and a favorite to many. And although simple to construct, its scientific profile is complex and inspiring.
MATERIALS & METHODS
Rum – 2 oz. White Rum
Fresh Lime Juice – 1 oz.
Simple Syrup – 0.5 oz.
Mix all ingredients together in a shaker, and shake vigorously.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with ½ lime slice.
The Daiquiri truly has a Yin and Yang reputation. Did the cocktail evolve from a concoction construed to help prevent Malaria in 18th century West Indies, as well as reduce fever? Indeed, it may have been thought to have medicinal properties. Charles H. Baker, the author of The Gentleman's Companion, wrote that Rum was added to drinking water during the Colonial era to help prevent the spread of germs, and lime juice was later added to make it tolerable to the taste (1). Unfortunately, for the colonists, Malaria is neither a virus nor bacteria that could be easily wiped out by Rum. Malaria is a mosquito-borne parasitic disease spread by mosquitoes, that multiplies in blood, and you cannot catch it from drinking water. Although Rum is not an anti-malarial agent, it is likely that the Daiquiri did evolve from a healthy concoction to combat Scurvy, the Navy Grog. The “Grog”, as it is commonly referred to today, was a cocktail developed during Colonial times which was often made by mixing rum, lemon juice, sugar, and water, and originally served to British sailors in the 18th century (2). Thanks to the strong citrus components of the drink, it was known to help sailors fend off Scurvy. However, when you substitute in lime juice for lemon juice you lose a significant amount of Vitamin C. In fact, lemons contain about 40 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams of flesh, which equates to about 25 milligrams of the vitamin in a medium-sized lemon, and limes contain a little less than 30 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams of flesh, which equates to about 8 milligrams of the vitamin in a medium-sized lime (3). The result is that serving a Daiquiri instead of a Grogg influences the efficacy negatively, so less Vitamin C unfortunately means many sailors learned the hard way.
While the classic Daiquiri is simple to make, the ingredients of the cocktail are fascinating, and together add to an incredible taste profile and experience! Obviously, nutritional information can vary depending on the addition or subtraction of key ingredients and volumes, as Daiquiri enthusiasts love to experiment with new adaptations of the traditional drink. The Strawberry Daiquiri and the Hemingway Daiquiri are two modern variations of the classic Daiquiri. In fact, substitute high fructose corn syrup for sugar and increase the cocktail volume, and you quickly take the drink from 148 calories to 1,800 calories!
Many alcoholic cocktails carry quite the punch when it comes to calories and often lead to a poor nutritional choice. But the classic Daiquiri is not one of them. The classic Daiquiri is relatively healthy and light on the caloric side, with only 148 calories per cocktail (4).
Amount Per 1 fl oz
Total Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Potassium: 6 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 2.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 0 g
Sugar: 1.7 g
But while nutrition may be important to some, probably no factor affects the properties of the classic Daiquiri more than Esters. You probably remember this term from Chemistry class in school. Esters are formed during the process of esterification, a reversible condensation reaction between an alcohol and carboxylic acid. Esters are typically found in dark rums and account for the fruitful aroma of the rum. In the case of light rums, esters are typically filtered out using charcoal. This filtration process removes all color from the rum and at the same time removing esters. Thus, light rum lacks the complexity of esters and for the most part aromatic flavors that are commonly found in dark rums.
So how does the classic Daiquiri, which is made with light rum, make up for lacking a strong suite of esters from dark rum and still radiate an amazing taste profile? That is where lime juice and sugar (Simple Syrup) come in to play. First off, the Lime Juice is a major source of flavor and aroma for the classic Daiquiri. Lime Juice has a pH of 2, thanks to the presence of citric acid which is a fairly strong acid, and one of the key indicators of sourness (5). However, the reason the classic Daiquiri does not taste solely sour is because the sugar ingredient, which is typically pH neutral, balances the souring profile with its sweetening properties. This result leads us to the debate and role of sugar in the role of the growing global obesity epidemic, and the classic Daiquiri is guilty by association. The common sugar in simple syrup that is used in the classic Daiquiri is sucrose, and most of our sucrose comes from sugar cane. Sugars, as with other carbohydrates, fats, protein and alcohol, contribute to overall energy intake (6). While the classic Daiquiri does contain sugar, the global debate today over the use of sugar in food and cocktails seems to have evolved in a discussion examining energy intake versus energy exerted. Enjoy a classic Daiquiri (energy intake) with a healthy lifestyle (energy exerted) and the tides of obesity will steer far away from your personal coastline.
Hundreds of years later and deeply rooted in Colonial history, the classic Daiquiri is as popular today as it was yesterday. Whether enjoyment originates from the cocktail’s rich history, its relatively healthy profile, or attractive chemical properties, the classic Daiquiri possesses such a strong flavorful experience that it has stood the test of time, and will continue to do so.
- Baker, C. (1939). The Gentleman’s Companion. NY: Crown Publishers.
- Thomas, D. (1997). Sailors, Scurvy, and Science. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Volume 90: 50-54
- Dubois, S. (2019) What Citrus Fruit Has the Most Vitamin C. The Nest. Retrieved from: https://woman.thenest.com/citrus-fruit-vitamin-c-2463.html
- Daily Burn. (2013). Here’s How Many Calories Are in Your Cocktail. Retrieved from: https://dailyburn.com/life/health/alcohol-calories-infographic/
- Liu, K. (2013). Cocktail Science: 8 Tips and Tricks for Getting the Most Out of Citrus. Serious Eats. Retrieved from: https://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/07/cocktail-science-using-citrus-smarter-techniques-for-better-lemon-lime-flavor-drinks-acidity-twists-citrus-peel-oils.html
- SRAS. (2018). Sugar and Health. Sugar Research Advisory Service. Retrieved from: https://www.srasanz.org/sras/sugar-and-health/sugar-and-obesity/