Michael Harden

The classic daiquiri.
The classic daiquiri. Photo: Domino Postiglione

Anyone raging against the end of daylight saving and in denial that summer is over is in need of a daiquiri. By daiquiri, we're talking the real thing. The one that tastes like summer with three measured, perfectly balanced ingredients: rum, fresh lime juice, sugar. The one Ernest Hemingway described as looking like ''the sea where the wave falls away from the bow of a ship''. For those who thought of head-sized alcoholic slushies flavoured with strawberries or bananas there are just two responses: One, gross. Two, what are you, 12?

As with most of the world's classic cocktails, the origins of the daiquiri are a little blurry but few would dispute its Cuban connection. The name of a Cuban beach and a Cuban iron ore mine, the daiquiri also utilises three ingredients that Cubans have always done well - rum, lime, sugar - and which have been mixed throughout the Caribbean and South America for as long as there have been limes, sugar and rum to mix. This hasn't prevented the Americans laying claim to the cocktail - a Cuban-based mining engineer, a congressman - but they would more accurately be credited for spreading the word than coming up with the idea.

Still, taking the drink from a clunky version stirred over ice in a tumbler to one shaken vigorously with ice in a cocktail shaker and then strained into a chilled cocktail glass was genius, as it enabled the kind of accuracy of measurement that the best daiquiris need. Balance is the key. Too much rum, too little lime juice, not enough sugar, too much dilution and you go from divine to average.

Quality of rum is also important but you also don't want anything too smooth and refined as it tends to disappear a little in the sugary, citrusy mix. Purists may argue that only white rum will do but light rums also have their merits, though you may want to temper the amount of sugar you use.

The most basic daiquiri recipe goes something like this: Put 60ml of rum, 25ml fresh lime juice (from the ripest lime you can find) and either half a teaspoon of super-fine sugar or 15ml sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass, no garnish required (or half a lime slice, if you must).

Then sit back, think of Hemingway, Cuba, the waves falling away from the bow of that ship and days of sunshine.