The Spirits #17: The Cardamon Daiquiri

~ Sugar and Spice ~ Luminous Transparence ~ Enjoy the Watersports ~ The World to Dinner ~


Three green cardamon pods
50ml light rum
15ml lime
10ml golden sugar syrup

Put the cardamon pods in the bottom of your shaker and muddle them - bash them about a bit. Add the rum and muddle a bit more. Then, introduce the lime and sugar syrup, half-fill the shaker with cubed ice, and shake for, ooh, seven seconds. Strain into a cold cocktail glass - ideally through a sieve/tea-strainer so you don’t end up with shards of ice in your drink. No garnish.

Some Cardamon Daiquiri Notes:

1) You can ‘toast’ the cardamon before hand for a little extra flavour: simply toss it around a dry frying pan on a medium heat for a minute or two.

2) You could, if you were so minded, make your own Cardamon Bitters. Find a small jar, throw in ~20 pods and ~100ml liquor and leave to infuse overnight. Then strain and use a few drops . The higher proof the liquor, the better it will extract the flavour. Vodka is good for infusions as it doesn’t taste of anything else; but rum (and particularly overproof rum) is good too.

3) Why does cardamon autocorrect to cardamom? Why?

Bienvenido! Some MUSIC… sure you can sit up at the bar. You will find instructions for making sugar syrup, grenadine, ice, etc here and my 10 RULES FOR MAKING COCKTAILS here. I have also assembled some bottle recommendations for a cabinet here - and this here is the full archive of weekly specials. Do please share the Spirits with anyone who might like it - and feel free to tag me with your creations on Instagram ou même Twitter!

Share the Spirits

I hope you don’t mind, it has once again been a testing week, work/childcare/tax return-wise - so what I am going to do is leave you with the mildly updated Daiquiri entry from my book (which gives me the chance to amend a tiny repetition that has always bothered me!) People often ask me: “So… what’s yer favourite cocktail, then?” And the answer changes according to mood. But in most moods, a Daiquiri is the thing, made in the simplest way possible, lime/sugar/rum. If you haven’t ever made a basic Daiquiri, please do so immediately - follow the recipe above minus the cardamon. I figure with winter, you either need to lean into it or run away from it. Run away run away run away run away run away!

THERE’S a memorable double-date scene in John Updike's Rabbit, Run, where our protagonist Harry Angstrom orders a Daiquiri in a Chinese restaurant because both of the girls have. He imagines it will taste like limeade... and finds it does sort of taste like limeade, "riding like oil on a raw transparent taste." He has a few more and when he emerges, "the pavement is a shadow of the Daiquiri's luminous transparence; he is light-hearted, and skips once, to get in step with the girl he adores."

Like Updike’s midcentury hero, the Daiquiri (rum, lime, sugar) is simple and direct but capable of the greatest lyricism. When its constituent parts are held in perfect harmony, something amazing happens. The dogs lose their bark; the eels cease to reel; oil paintings come to life. And then everything resets and goes back to normal and everyone forgets that ever happened. There is a luminous transparence around, though, if you care to look.

Since rum is made from sugar and limes grow pretty much everywhere that sugar grows, you might think of the Daiquiri as a gift from the Earth, a perfect triad, as natural as a cocktail can be. Which hasn’t stopped certain enterprising individuals laying claim to it. The drink took its name from a Cuban mining town named Daiquiri, which was occupied by US troops following the Spanish-American war. The miners apparently used Bacardi rum to disinfect the local water and added sugar and lime to make it more palatable. An engineer named Jennings Cox noted the first Daiquiri recipe down in 1898, which then made its way to Havana where it was taken to perfection by Constantina Ribalagua-Vert at the Florida bar - a pioneer of the electric blender.

Then, as the Prohibition-era American adventurer Charles H Baker noted: “Like the Martini, Manahttan, Side Car and other immortals, the Daiquiri marched straight around the world…” Right into small-town Chinese restaurants and provincial discos and all-inclusive resorts where it spawned the syrup-laced Strawberry Daiquiri, the Kiwi Daiquiri, the Blue Bubblegum Daiquiri and so on.

I will doubtless return to the Florida-style Frozen Daiquiri in some future post when the weather is warm. In the meantime nothing can detract from a simple, well-balanced handmade Daiquiri. You can spend a long time getting the proportions right but I find 50 / 15 / 10 to be the most apt to produce the miracle described above. However, as Baker points out, there are only really two ways you can go wrong: insufficient chilling and too much sugar.

And this is the base from which to launch your own improvisations. Keep it simple. Throw in some fennel or coriander seeds in place of the cardamon; a few sprigs of mint or tarragon are nice too; and soft fruit is splendid - handful of raspberries, half a passion fruit, some sliced mango, etc. The beach is that way.


Tip Jar


We’re going on holiday! Here are some of my favourite songs about holidays, tourism, flights, beaches, resorts (not journeys; that’s a slightly different thing). I would like to draw your special attention to a) the best Blondie song from the best Blondie album and b) the excellent 1980s Franco-Belgian electronic trio Antena. Don’t forget the suncream!

CW: Madonna


Edith Wharton’s wintry novella Ethan Frome. My goodness. Between this and It’s a Sin, it’s been a weepy week. But I highly recommend!

The Man Who Invited the World to Dinner (BBC)

What is Gamestop and why is everyone banging on about it? (The Verge)

Lauren Oyler’s Fake Accounts is an exercise in snark 😏  (New Statesman)

And I wrote up (and photographed!) some Spring cocktail recipes for this delightful piece here. (Observer)


Bourbon (or rye!), Italian (i.e. red) vermouth, Campari.