You Can Make a Daiquiri (or any Sour) Without Simple Syrup

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Back at the beginning of the pandemic, beverage writer David Wondrich did us all a huge favor by tweeting a “Drink of the Day,” live from his kitchen with “who-gives-a-shit home photography and old-person threading skills.” The series is delightful, but I had largely forgotten about it because I don’t drink all that much anymore.

But then someone retweeted his daiquiri recipe from March of 2020 onto my timeline, and a key detail caught my attention:

Like any good daiquiri recipe, Wondrich’s was easy and accessible, but it was the lack of simple syrup that caught my eye. Instead of dissolving sugar in water, he mixed plain table sugar with a little lime juice, then shook it with room temperature rum before shaking with ice and straining into a chilled coupe.

Simple syrup isn’t hard to make—even in small quantities—but I am famously lazy, and am always looking to eliminate steps from recipes, cocktail or otherwise. Using plain sugar is certainly more convenient than making a syrup, no matter how simple, so I decided to give Wondrich’s method a try.

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I squeezed half a lime into my shaker, added a heaping teaspoon of sugar to the juice, gave it a quick stir, then added two ounces of rum. I gave that a quick shake, before adding ice and shaking to chill. I strained it into a coupe, and was surprised to find very few grains of undissolved sugar in the bottom of the glass. (I saw very few, that is; I didn’t feel any on my tongue.)

This technique can obviously be applied to a whole world of sours, using a template of half lemon/lime + heaping barspoon of sugar + 2 ounces liquor, just make sure to dissolve the sugar in room-temperature liquids before adding ice, then strain into a chilled coupe. According to Wondrich, you should keep one in the freezer at all times for “just such an eventuality (or in this case inevitability).”

   

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