Ina Garten's Foolproof Technique For Tasty Daiquiris

A daiquiri seems like a super-simple cocktail, made by shaking rum, lime juice, and sugar or simple syrup with ice. However, there's more to the shaking step than you might think. Bartenders use a variety of shaking techniques, with some meant to maximize the foam on a drink, while others simply aim to mix the ingredients thoroughly. But one method you'll never see a bartender use is weakly whipping a shaker around until it feels adequate — this is a surefire path to lackluster drinks. If that description sounds like the way you shake your daiquiris, pro chef Ina Garten can help you out.

In a YouTube short, the Barefoot Contessa demonstrates her daiquiri recipe, and puts emphasis on shaking drink for a relatively long time: 30 seconds. The reason cocktails are shaken with ice is to dilute and mix the ingredients, while also cooling the drink and whipping air into it, making for a smoother and sweeter taste. As you can imagine, a longer shake makes Garten's daiquiris extra-cold and delicious. Your arms might get tired, but once you taste the final result, you'll never look back. 

This isn't to say that all drinks need a long shake – most require fewer than 15 seconds. However, there are reasons why a daiquiri needs a little more time, with the serving temperature being the most important factor.

Ina Garten's longer shake makes for a colder, frothier daiquiri

Temperature is a vital component of how cocktails are served. While some drinks' flavors are fully unlocked at room temperature, a daiquiri is best served extremely cold, and using ice-cold ingredients but slacking on shaking simply won't do. Ina Garten's lengthy shake with ice helps to cool down the cocktail quickly and thoroughly. 

Garten also fills her cocktail shaker three-quarters full with ice, then serves the drink in a glass that is also three-quarters full with ice, for a bracing and refreshing cocktail. And if you think that the ice will water down the drink's flavor as it melts, using less ice actually makes the cubes melt faster. More ice equals a better-tasting cocktail and more time to finish it before it becomes overly diluted.

A daiquiri is also meant to have an extra-smooth, slightly frothy consistency. Lime juice helps to create this velvety feel, since it aerates better than water or other liquids, but a proper shaking is what adds air to the whole drink and activates the citrus juice's foamy properties. This effect can't materialize if you lightly shake a daiquiri for just a few seconds. Aeration also causes some of the alcohol to evaporate, creating a more rounded and less harsh flavor, and enhances a daiquiri's natural sweetness. The bottom line is that there really is no shortcut to the ideal daiquiri — roll up your sleeves and get to shaking.

Other tips for making a daiquiri you love

For a drink with so few ingredients, it's important to make sure each part of your daiquiri is  well-balanced. Ina Garten uses simple syrup to sweeten her recipe, as unlike plain sugar, the smooth syrup evenly distributes sweetness throughout the drink, with no solid sugar crystals at the bottom. And while most recipes suggest white rum for a fresh and bright taste, the Barefoot Contessa prefers dark rum, which has a sweeter, spicier, and more complex flavor. This could be worth trying if you tend to be bored by the classic formula.

If your favorite part of a daiquiri is the citrusy taste, you can ramp it up further by adding lime zest to your drink, as well as the juice. You might even try a more exotic citrus and shake up a blood orange daiquiri. And if you try Garten's recipe and can't get enough of that extra-cold sensation, make a frozen daiquiri by combining the ingredients in a blender.

When talking about offshoots of this classic drink, popular and fruity variations like the strawberry daiquiri must be acknowledged. You can add muddled strawberries or kiwi to the rum, lime juice, and simple syrup combo before shaking, or blend sliced fruits of your choice into a frozen daiquiri. Try adding a little banana liqueur for a tropical twist, or go for a Hemingway daiquiri, which shakes white rum with sweet maraschino liqueur, fresh lime juice, and tart grapefruit juice.