Papa Doble

Statue of Hemingway at Floridita Bar

“I wanted to try this new drink. That’s all we do, isn’t it—look at things and try new drinks?” —”Hills Like White Elephants,” Men Without Women, 1927

Just two days after National Daiquiri Day we celebrate the birthday of Ernest Hemingway. Surely that can’t be a coincidence? Today, Hemingway’s legacy owes almost as much to his reputation as a heavy drinker as it does to his short, sharp writing style which has been credited with reinventing American literature, although the two were always heavily intertwined. When I first read The Sun Also Rises I tabbed every page where a character took a drink and ran out of Post It notes before I was halfway through.

“In The Sun Also Rises, Jake Barnes has a Jack Rose while waiting in vain for Brett. In A Farewell to Arms, Frederic Henry has a couple of “cool and clean” Martinis; they made him “feel civilized.” and in For Whom the Bell Tolls, it is the ritual of dripped absinthe that gives Robert Jordan temporary solace from the rigours of war: “One cup of it took the place of the evening papers, of all the old evenings in cafés, of all chestnut trees that would be in bloom now in this month.… of all the things he had enjoyed and forgotten and that came back to him when he tasted that opaque, bitter, tongue-numbing, brain-warming, stomach-warming, idea-changing liquid alchemy.”” – Philip Greene, To Have and Have Another

As for the heavy drinking reputation, most of it comes from the man himself and his proud tales of record-breaking sessions at La Florida Bar, Havana. During the decades he lived and holidayed in Cuba, Hemingway spent the majority of his time holding court at the bar affectionately known as La Floridita after a chance visit had convinced him that the house daiquiri was “the ultimate achievement of the daiquiri-maker’s art”. Nevertheless, he requested a couple of tweaks (double the rum and skip the sugar) and the Papa Doble was born. Although his recipe has been tweaked again more recently to create the more palatable Hemingway Daiquiri or even the modern Doble to which it is also common to add a little sugar (not everyone has a palate like Papa…) today, in his honour, we go back to the original. The hardcore. The not for the faint-hearted. The ‘I’ll have six of these of an average afternoon’: The Papa Doble.

  1. Add 110ml white rum, 70ml fresh lime juice, 120ml fresh grapefruit juice and six dashes of Maraschino to a blender of shaved ice.
  2. Frappe until it looks “like the sea where the wave falls away from the bow of a ship when she is doing thirty knots”.
  3. Serve in a large wine goblet.

Most people would shy away from a drink that contains 110ml of rum. Most people would fall off their stools after an evening session of six of these. And who but the man himself could handle the record-beating sixteen he once put away in one session?

Maybe it’s the crushed ice that does it. The original recipe calls for the drink to be blended “until it foams” and the author himself claimed the finished product “had no taste of alcohol and felt, as you drank them, the way downhill glacier skiing feels running through powder snow.”

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