Kindred Spirits

Experience your own Hemingway moment and dabble in the world’s finest rums.


It is well-documented that Ernest Hemingway was a man who appreciated rum (among other sources, see Straight Up or On the Rocks by William Grimes). Considering the fact that one of the greatest American writers has a (now classic) rum cocktail named after him – the Hemingway Daiquiri, aka Papa Doble – one need not go out on a limb to say that Hemingway established himself as a man who knows his spirit of choice.

Hemingway took his boat, The Pilar, from Key West to Cuba for the first time in the spring of 1939. The Daiquiri was already a very popular rum beverage by that time, but Ernest detested sugary drinks. In response to Hemingway’s request for a less-sweet Daiquiri, Constantino Ribalaigua Vert, the barman at the renowned Havana watering hole, El Floridita, added a bit of Maraschino liqueur for depth of flavor and some grapefruit juice to add more citrus kick, leaving out the sugar.

An avid fisherman, Hemingway bounced around the Caribbean in the hunt for game fish – big blue marlin in particular. It is easy to imagine the barrel-chested author nipping at a flask of aged rum or perhaps shaking his own eponymous drink with white rum after spending an hour or more fighting one of those powerful specimens of the sea. Even a quick read of The Old Man and the Sea – a novel that Hemingway himself referred to as “the best I can write ever for all of my life” – makes plain the admiration and respect he had for the sea and for the blue marlin. In those happy moments he enjoyed at sea, hoisting a cup of rum was most certainly a celebration of the sporting life.

Hemingway’s romance with the sea seems inextricably intertwined with his zeal for living life to the fullest. The fact that he put his own stamp on an already classic adult beverage points to his passion for the native spirit of the Caribbean. It is hard to imagine the great writer at home in the islands without conjuring an image of him hoisting his glass.

Here is an adaptation of Jim Meehan’s version of the Hemingway Daiquiri, using Rhum Clément Première Canne white rhum agricole (made from 100 percent pure sugar cane juice) from Martinique:

2 oz. Rhum Clément Première Canne
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
½ oz. fresh grapefruit juice
½ oz. maraschino liqueur

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the lime wheel and shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe.
For entertainig larger groups try the Classic Rum punch:

1 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups grenadine syrup
2 cups white Rhum Clement
1 cup light rum
2 cups fresh pineapple juice
2 cups fresh orange juice
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg, optional
Orange slices, for garnish
Pineapple slices, for garnish

Combine all ingredients together in a pitcher or punch bowl. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish with orange or pineapple slices.