The Papa Doble – Ernest Hemingway’s Original Recipe

American author Ernest Hemingway did not want sugar in his drink, so cantinero Constantine Ribalaigua Vert of El Floridita in Havana made him a version of his Daiquirí No. 3 without sugar. The “E. Heminway” Special (published in the 1939 Floridita souvenir bar book) is exceedingly tart, so “Papa” Hemingway developed his own Daiquirí with more grapefruit juice and Key lime juice and less Maraschino, and doubled the size of the drink, hence the name Papa Doble.


His preparation of the drink was observed by A.E. Hotchner, the writer who came to visit Hemingway for a spell in Havana. “A Papa Doble was compounded of two and a half jiggers of Bacardi White Label Rum, the juice of two limes and half of a grapefruit and six drops of maraschino,” Mr. Hotchner wrote.

The two limes referred to in Hotchner’s description are Key limes, the variety known in Cuba as limón criollo (creole lime). The use of regular (Persian) lime juice is acceptable, but alters the taste.

3¾ ounces Bacardí Superior or other light rum

½ ounce fresh juice from Key or Mexican limes

3½ ounces fresh Ruby Red or other pink grapefruit juice (or 1/2 of a pink grapefruit)

6 drops Luxardo Maraschino

Luxardo Cherry or other cherry, for garnish (optional)


~ Add the rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, and Maraschino to an electric blender with 4 or 5 standard 1¼-inch cubes of ice, or a cup of other ice. Blend until frothy, and pour into a chilled goblet (Hemingway’s preference), highball glass, poco grande, or other glass of your choosing. The finished Daiquirí is 12 to 13 ounces in volume. No garnish.

For an (optional) garnish, a Luxardo Cherry or other cherry on a pick may be placed on the rim of the glass, or placed in the drink.

For preparation, Hotchner writes that ingredients were “placed in an electric mixer over shaved ice, whirled vigorously and served foaming in large goblets.” Hemingway described them as looking “like the sea where the wave falls away from the bow of a ship when she is doing thirty knots.”

Ruby Red grapefruit is less bitter than white grapefruit, and is a modern variation of the Marsh grapefruit, which was the variety used in the original cocktail. Any freshly-squeezed juice from a Texas, Florida, California, or South Africa red grapefruit is recommended. Not-from-concentrate bottled grapefruit juice has small amounts of grapefruit oil from peels, and is slightly too bitter for this drink.

Make sure that the Key limes (also known as Mexican limes) are green. Yellow or yellowing Key limes are too ripe, and often bitter with a flowery perfume taste. When squeezed, a Key lime may produce ¼ to ½ ounce of fresh juice. Increasing the amount of Key lime juice in a Papa Doble to ¾ ounce will make it slightly more tart, but 1 ounce of Key lime will make it too tart.

6 drops of Maraschino are just right. 7 drops are okay, but 8 drops are noticeably too much.

Bacardí Superior and Havana Club Añejo 3 Años are recommended rums.

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