A friend recently handed me the February 2012 issue of Esquire magazine. Sticking out the side was a Post-It with three huge question marks and an arrow pointing inside. The arrow pointed to the cover story, "Agree: Bill Clinton and 78 Other Things We Can All Agree On". Specifically, it pointed to "52: No good cocktail should take more than 45 seconds to make." I immediately protested to my friend, "But what about the Ramos Fizz? You have to shake the damn thing for a solid two minutes, and it's worth every moment!" My friend peeled back the strategically placed Post-It to reveal "53: Except [the Ramos Fizz]." My friends know me too well.
This got me thinking, are there any other exceptions to the rule?
All the really great drinks are simple affairs. Martinis and Manhattans barely take more than the 20 to 30 seconds needed to stir them. Margaritas are just as fast despite having to take a few seconds to properly salt the rim. The modern classic Cosmopolitan? That's just a Margarita with a citron vodka base and a splash of cranberry juice. I can hear some of you protesting "What about a strawberry Daiquiri?" Those of you protesting that one are wrong. It's not a good drink, it's a sugar-induced hangover waiting to happen.
The strawberry Daiquiri may be an abomination, but it is on the right track for a great time-consuming drink, the Daiquiri. Despite being the father of tacky frozen fruit boat drinks, the original Daiquiri is a class act. It's certainly simple: Just silver rum, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and a touch of sugar. It looks like a snap to put together, but there's a detail worth extra time.
With just three ingredients, everything deserves special attention. The difference between a good Daiquiri and a truly great one is simple: Finger-squeeze the limes. Squeezing machines from the portable lever-press models to massive industrial juicers just get the juice out of the lime. Finger-squeezing gets some of the oil in the lime's zest in the drink, giving amazing depth to the drink. It takes an extra thirty seconds to squeeze the limes this way, but it's time well spent.
Daiquiri Take your pick of rums. Puerto Rican rums fall flat on their face here; pick something with character. Add more sugar to taste; you may want to cut back on the sugar a little if you use dark rum. 1/2 teaspoon bar sugar (or 1 teaspoon simple syrup) 1/2 ounce finger-squeezed lime juice 2 ounces rum
Shake everything like hell with ice cubes. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.