Refineries in the Caribbean processed cane to make refined sugar, creating a mess of molasses, which at first was fed to cattle. However, because the molasses could be fermented to create alcohol, which was then distilled to concentrate its alcohol, et voila, rum.
The Daiquiri – just rum, citrus juice and sugar – is maybe one of the most common rum drinks in any bar, perhaps running second to rum and Coke. There is, however, a variation on the Daiquiri that – legend has it – was first concocted for Ernest Hemingway at Havana’s La Floridita (where, coincidentally, I had my first Daiquiri). When Hemingway wandered into La Floridita to use the washroom, he decided to sample one of their Daiquiris. He took a sip and said, “That’s good, but I prefer it without sugar and with double rum.”
More rum and less sugar is a predictable request, as Hemingway was as great a drinker as he was a writer, and with diabetes, he was trying to control his sugar intake.
The La Floridita bartender quickly responded, making a new kind of Daquiri according to the great man’s direction.
The Papa Doble is simple to make, mostly rum, a little grapefruit and lime juice, maraschino cherry juice or Luxardo (a liqueur made of maraschino cherries), and simple syrup (basically thick sugary water). This drink is called a Papa Doble, in honor of Papa Hemingway.
The Papa Doble is boozier than most Daiquiris, but it is not sweet. We used Luxardo instead of the cherry juice, which is not nearly so sweet, and the grapefruit and lime juice add acidity to balance the sugariness of the simple syrup. The rum itself is not sweet (though many people mistakenly believe it to be), so this is actually a good drink for people who don’t prefer sweet cocktails (I sure don’t).
The Papa Doble is one of the few cocktails that I could see enjoying before, or even during, a meal. The drink has a slight fruitiness and tartness that would work well with grilled fish or chicken or some other light summertime meal.
I called Barclay’s American Grille and Hemmingway’s Bistro to see if they had Papa Dobles on the menu. I’m not sure the barkeeps who answered knew what the heck I was talking about. What a lost business opportunity! With many people coming to Oak Park to pay homage to Hemingway, you’d think that offering a drink named in honor of this Oak Park author – a drink that was historically made at his personal direction – would be offered. Restaurants could put some copy in the menu that explains the origin of the cocktail, charge a premium, and make some tourists happy on a summer afternoon while enhancing the whole Hemingway experience in Oak Park (#milliondollarideasgivenawayfree).
Until the day that Oak Park bars serve the drink invented by Oak Park’s most renown writer, you’re going to have to make your Papa Dobles at home.
National Rum Day is August 16.