The powers that be (whoever they are—curiously, no one ever seems to know) have decreed that July 19th of each year is National Daiquiri Day. Of course, in my book, every day is Daiquiri Day. I’d live life in a perpetual state of #DTO if I could get away with it.
Their name practically synonymous with daiquiris, Bacardi flew in top bartenders from around the country to make distinctive daiquiris at five bars around New Orleans for National Daiquiri Day, which conveniently enough landed during Tales of the Cocktail 2016. I personally am partial to a dry, expertly crafted Hemingway daiquiri (also a Mrs. Wonk go-to, over pebble ice if you’ve got it), but I also enjoy seeing what creative bartenders can do, starting from the classic daiquiri’s basic trio of rum, lime, and sugar.
To bear witness to this daiquiri goodness, Bacardi handpicked a group of journalists and media influencers (including me!) and chartered a bus to visit five New Orleans bars within two hours! Our host, guide, and emcee for the evening was Bacardi Brand Master Juan Coronado, who I’d met a few months earlier at the Bacardi Legacy finals in San Francisco. Juan regaled us with the history of Bacardi and the daiquiri as we traveled through hot, humid New Orleans, packing into bars for twenty minutes of daiquiri love before moving on to the next. We surrounded every drink and bartender with a phalanx of camera phones and SLRs–because as we all know, Instagram or it didn’t happen, right?
Having just barely lived to tell the tale, here’s what went down at each stop:
Stop 1: Café Henri – Dan Sabo
Café Henri is a new(ish) bar from the folks behind Cure and Cane and Table, in the funky Bywater neighborhood. Joining Dan was Nick Detrich, the pair cranking out classic daiquiri variations in two formats–shaken and blended.
Stop 2: El Libre – Gina Kent
El Libre is a tiny Cuban sandwich café in the French Quarter with a cocktail list (because New Orleans). We overwhelmed its main floor and spilled along the stairway up to the small mezzanine seating area while enjoying Gina’s delicious raspberry and aloe liqueur-tinged Pillow Fight Daiquiri.
Stop 3: Kingfish – Shannon Stiggins
A beautiful, old-fashioned style bar and restaurant in the heart of the Quarter, Kingfish is quite the opposite of the tiny El Libre. Shannon’s Clearly Pineapple Daiquiri was a real crowd pleaser. Much more than a daiquiri with pineapple syrup, it features Bacardi Superior fat-washed with coconut oil, evoking the classic Piña Colada flavors.
Stop 4: Palace Café – Johnny Codd
The newly renovated Palace Café on Canal Street is sight to behold. Ascending the open, curving staircase to the second level, a veritable wall of rum greets you. What a glorious sight it is! Like the Clearly Pineapple from the prior stop, Johnny’s Bad Habit daiquiri also features pineapple and coconut flavors. However, the use of barrel aged Peychaud’s and coconut marmalade yielded a very different– and delicious–flavor profile.
Stop 5: Victory – Joe Frade
Featuring banana liqueur, ginger syrup and egg white, the Rum Pleasure Daiquiri at Victory was a big hit with our boozy caravan. The old-school Bacardi logo glassware it was served in also drew nods of approval.
Ace Hotel Rooftop Party
The festivities ended with a party on the roof of the new Ace Hotel, with Juan leading the crowd in a toast. I unfortunately had to leave just as the party was getting underway – dinner reservations were calling. As with all things at Tales of the Cocktail, there’s always far more things to get to than time to do it.
Big thanks to Juan, Bacardi, and their PR team for hosting this super-fun shindig. It was a great way to visit some exceptional bars and meet bartenders that I ordinarily might have missed during a jam-packed week at Tales. And remember, there’s always time for a #daiquiritimeout!