How to Make a Daisy de Santiago, the Daiquiri’s Seductive Cousin

I’m not here to say that we can improve upon the Daiquiri. We can’t. The Daiquiri is already God’s perfect creation, the apotheosis of shaken cocktails and among the best things you can drink on this planet or any other.

What I am saying is that sometimes, even a Daiquiri wants to get a little dolled up. It’s the same as anyone—I’m sure you look great, but sometimes, you want to turn heads. For you this could be a particular suit or dress. For a Daiquiri, it’s Yellow Chartreuse. Yellow Chartreuse is what the Daiquiri would wear to the Met Gala. It’s what it puts on when it wants to make an impression.

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This impression is called a Daisy de Santiago. The drink comes to us from a man named Charles H. Baker, Jr., who had perhaps the greatest job ever conceived; after marrying rich, Baker endeavored to travel by steam ship around the globe and chronicle all the best things he ate and drank, the latter of which he stitched into an exuberant volume called The Gentleman’s CompanionBeing an Exotic Drinking Book, or around the World with Jigger, Beaker, and Flask. The book was published in 1939, and to read it is to get an unusually broad survey of the various boozy inventions of the interwar world.

It was in Cuba, he writes, that he first tried the Daisy de Santiago. Before it fled the country after the revolution in 1960, the Bacardi Company was based in Havana, possessing what Baker called a “special small skyscraper” with a “brilliant modern bar smart enough to make New York jealous… where visitors may go for free Bacardi drinks” and to which he admits to have visited on four different trips. The cocktail culture in Cuba was already famous by the mid ‘30s—he would’ve known it well, and there was certainly much to say—so it’s particularly noteworthy that of all the drinks at his fingertips, it’s the Daisy de Santiago on which he heaps his praise.

The drink is made of rum, lime juice, a touch of sugar, and Yellow Chartreuse, served on crushed ice with a mint sprig and a sparkle of soda. Baker is clear that he’s merely transmitting this knowledge, not inventing it; the originator is lost to time, and all we know of it is that it was, in the author’s words, “a lovely thing, introduced to us through the gracious offices of the late Facuno Bacardi, of lamented memory.”

Whoever made it, the Daisy de Santiago is a lovely thing indeed. It’s got the bright exuberance you’d expect but lifted by the carbonation and charmed by Chartreuse’s spice. It tastes splendiferous—not showy like a firework, but showy like a mink coat. While a Daiquiri is snappy, the Daisy de Santiago is garish. While a Daiquiri is radiant, the Daisy de Santiago is seductive. Is it better than the Daiquiri? Of course not. Baker knew it too, but he loved it anyway. “Along with the immortal Daiquiri,” he took care to note, “this is the best Bacardi drink on record.”

Daisy de Santiago

  • 1.5 oz. aged rum

  • 1 oz. lime juice

  • 0.5 oz. simple syrup

  • 0.5 oz. Yellow Chartreuse

  • 1 oz. soda water

To a tall glass, add all ingredients. Add crushed ice about halfway up and give a brief stir or swizzle, five to eight seconds, to begin the chilling process. Fill the rest of the glass with crushed ice and garnish with a mint sprig or two.


yellow chartreuse
yellow chartreuse

Yellow Chartreuse: Chartreuse can be hard to find these days. Basically, everyone (including me) panicked because we heard Chartreuse’s production would be drastically reduced. This is not true, as it turns out—it’s made by monks, and all they said was that they had loose plans to increase production, and they ultimately decided against the expansion. But this announcement being in France and them being Carthusian Monks and all, there was a translation issue, and everyone freaked out and ran to the stores to buy as much as possible, which meant there really is/was a shortage. It was, in short, a bank run. More Chartreuse was made last year than in any year on record, 1.6 million bottles, but still, it can be difficult to find.

Can you make this with a rival liqueur? Sure. The Chartreuse adds a unique persistent herbal complexity, but you can try it with another complex herbaceous liqueur, like Bénédictine, or one of the less balanced, more single chord herbal liqueurs, like Licor 43 or Galliano. It tastes best with Chartreuse, though, and so much so that I personally don’t bother unless I’ve got a half ounce lying around.

Take note, Chartreuse comes in several forms, and the two you’re most likely to find (if you can find any) is the Yellow, which is now bottled at 86 proof, and the Green, which is bottled at 110. Yellow is what we want.

Rum: Some recipes call for white rum, and I see what they mean—it’s a cleaner, lighter flavor, so unless you’re dealing with a particularly flavorful white rum like Probitas or even Plantation 3-star, the Chartreuse’s effect is more pronounced. For me, though, I just think it’s tastier when the rum is mild but there’s a bit of oaky age to dance with, so I like the lightly aged rums in the so-called “Spanish Style,” which is like Plantation 5, Flor de Cana 4, Bacardi 8, and others.

It’s worth noting—if you already know that you like rhum agricole, this is a great application for it, grassy and complex and far more interesting than a molasses rum. I didn’t think it made a better drink, but it made a very cool one. Try it if you like.

Soda Water: Baker calls for soda water, but many people leave it out, opting instead for a more straightforward Daiquiri riff with a tiny bit of liqueur. Honestly, they’re both pretty great, and if I didn’t have Yellow Chartreuse and was instead using one of its competitors, I’d leave out the soda. The reason I leave it in the official recipe is that Yellow Chartreuse has an unusual persistence—when soda water comes to lengthen the other flavors, it feels like everything gets thinner except for the Chartreuse. It helps the Chartreuse shine.

Shaking vs. Swizzling: 
Most everyone shakes this drink, and then pours it on crushed ice. Baker’s original, however, was swizzled (built on crushed ice and not aerated like shaking would do), and when you try them side by side, the swizzled one is just far more charming with the swizzle. Also, swizzling is fun.

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