An American sailor introduced the daiquiri to the US

Miguel Ortiz
Aug 25, 2023 11:37 AM PDT
2 minute read
daiquiri creator

Strawberry daiquiri photo credit: Rey del Mojito.


The naval profession is often associated with drinking. It’s no surprise that it was an American naval officer who introduced the daiquiri.

The naval profession is often associated with drinking. This extends from early mariners receiving rum rations at sea to the U.S. Naval Academy’s fight song, “Anchors Aweigh,” which calls for sailors to “drink to the foam.” With that in mind, it’s no surprise that it was an American naval officer who introduced the incredibly popular daiquiri cocktail to the United States.

Johnson retired at the rank of rear admiral (Washington Educational Telecommunications Association)

The story of the daiquiri's invention reportedly dates back to the Spanish-American War. In 1898, an American mining engineer named Jennings Stockton Cox ran out of gin while entertaining American guests in the town of Daiquiri, Cuba. Seeking to relieve his guests from the hot and humid Cuban weather, Cox mixed Bacardi rum, lime juice and sugar and shook it with water and crushed ice. The tasty cocktail took on the town’s name and the daiquiri exploded in popularity across Cuba.

USS Minnesota c. 1907 (Public Domain)

Eleven years later, the battleship USS Minnesota (BB-22) docked in Guantanamo Bay. Captain Charles H. Harlow took the ship’s junior medical officer, Lucius W. Johnson, ashore to tour battlefields from the Spanish-American War. In Daiquiri, the two naval officers met Cox, who treated them to his cocktail. Sailors regularly combined alcohol with citrus to add vitamins to their diet and combat scurvy at sea. With this preferred taste, Harlow and Johnson took to Cox's drink. Johnson was so impressed that he took the recipe and a barrel of rum with him back to Washington, D.C., where he was stationed.

The Daiquiri Lounge claims to be where the drink was first introduced in the U.S. (The Army and Navy Club)

Upon returning to D.C., Johnson introduced Cox’s daiquiri to The Army and Navy Club on Farragut Square. The drink quickly became a favorite at the club and was only removed from the menu during Prohibition. Before long, the daiquiri’s popularity expanded past D.C. and across the country, becoming a favorite drink of Ernest Hemingway and, later, John F. Kennedy. On June 23, 2017, to honor Johnson's introduction of the daiquiri to The Army and Navy Club and the nation, his portrait was dedicated and hung in the club's appropriately named Daiquiri Lounge. Today, the cocktail is a staple at the prestigious Army and Navy Club as well as pool and beach bars around the world.


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