Never make the mistake of asking a bartender for a daiquiri. I ordered one at a perfectly respectable suburban bar once and the bartender was so confused and affronted that she called the manager. That’s not even an exaggeration! First she sneered and told me they don’t have a granita machine; then, when I flusteredly tried to explain that I wasn’t after a frozen daiquiri, she nodded politely and called over her supervisor, who sneered and told me, sir, we do not have a granita machine. I apologized and ordered a margarita, which is a tequila daiquiri with triple sec. I don’t want to say the episode was traumatic, but I for sure was super embarrassed. The margarita was fine.
I think we just have to give up and accept that the humble daiquiri has been devoured forever by the frozen daiquiri. It’s not the worst loss, except that sometimes it would be nice to have a daiquiri—white rum, lime juice, and sugar, mixed with ice and then served over fresh ice in a short glass—without the brain freeze, and without earning the white-hot contempt of self-serious bartenders. The word “daiquiri” has gone forever into the piña colada zone—it describes a drink for goofy sunburned tourists, over-garnished and over-sweet and shaded by a delicate little cocktail umbrella. Probably there are a good number of people reading this blog right now who have never heard the word “daiquiri” without the words “strawberry” or “frozen” attached. Fine! Fine. I’m not here to fight a losing battle. I’m here to offer a substitution—a cool white rum cocktail you can order at a respectable bar without reflexively reaching for your fake ID. A tart, summery beverage for grownups. The white rum sour.
Sours are lots of fun: pale, citrusy, bright, and foam-capped; great for sipping; even greater for gulping. You can more easily trace a line from the sour to the frozen daiquiri, in fact, than you can from the daiquiri to the frozen daiquiri. It’s the egg whites, which poof up into something almost Italian merengue-like and give the drink both its characteristic foam cap and a lush, shake-like texture. The pisco sour is probably the best-known of this type, and is a great damn drink. And maybe you have a bottle of pisco right there on your home bar! Nice! I do not. I also have a lingering sadness over the demise of the daiquiri, and feel an urge to make a delightful and refreshing white rum cocktail in some sort of feeble salute. What I’m suggesting is a thoughtful hybridization of the rum sour—aged rum, lime and orange juice, sugar syrup, and egg whites—and the daiquiri, in the spirit of the genetic hybridization of the Southern white rhinoceros and the functionally extinct Northern white rhinoceros. Humankind must act boldly to save the daiquiri! Try this:
1.5 oz white rum
½ oz lime juice
½ oz simple syrup
½ large pasteurized egg white
Mix those things together in a cocktail shaker or shaker bottle or screw-top jar and shake the bejeezus out of the mix until foamy, then add a few ice cubes to the mix and shake again until good and cold. Plop a big ice cube into a double old fashioned glass, strain the booze over it, and garnish with a nice bright slab of citrus peel. There’s good science in that glass: The proteins of shaken egg whites unfurl and capture air bubbles, making a luxurious velvety foam; for better or worse, the quantities of liquor and juice and syrup will prevent your sour from becoming a soufflé. Make sure you do the first shake before adding ice—this “dry shake” lets you do a lot of vigorous tumbling without ice melting in there and both diluting the mixture and inhibiting the expansion of the foam. The finished drink will be cloudy and thick, and after a minute of sitting in the glass will develop an almost whipped cream-like head. Wonderful and delicious and lovely to look at, just like the person drinking it.
White rum has the same tasty notes of tropical fruit and vanilla as the aged stuff, but without the darkening caramel. It’s that lighter, young-tasting rum that complements the citrus so well in a daiquiri, and which will make our hybrid sour so bright and tart and summery. The foam is just a decadent luxury, but a perfectly innocent one: Tell yourself you’ve added healthy protein to your booze-forward cocktail and made it Dr. Atkins appropriate. A fun and scrumptious sunshine-and-warm-weather cocktail like our white rum sour is great for socializing, which is good, because you’ve still got half an egg white leftover for additional mixologies. If you’ve got a friend nearby, make two. If not, hey, make two.