A modern twist on a 19th century American original
Many popular cocktails combine booze and citrus (lemon or lime), with a bit of sugar added to balance the citrusy tartness. Indeed, that’s the basic recipe for a whole class of drinks called “sours” (such as the Whiskey Sour).
But what happens if you add some effervescence in the form of sparkling water? The mid-19th century bartenders who made this modification to the sour decided they had invented an entirely new class of drink. They called it the daisy.
Back then, brandy was the spirit of choice for daisies. But you can make this drink with any spirit—whiskey, gin, even tequila (and we like them all). During the hot summer months, though, we tend to prefer a rum-based daisy. Rum makes a perfect warm-weather spirit, and a Rum Daisy Cocktail is delicious before a light dinner.
Which is why we’ve been drinking this cocktail a lot lately. You might say we’re half crazy for it.
Recipe: The Rum Daisy Cocktail
Originally, the daisy was a largish, sweet drink that contained a fair amount of fizzy water. Over time, however, bartenders started decreasing the water to make the drink less voluminous. They also cut down on the sugar (19th century drinkers had a real sweet tooth).
Nowadays, mixologists usually sweeten the drink primarily with grenadine (which also provides a nice pink tinge). You should use real—i.e., pomegranate—grenadine, not the ersatz stuff that liquor stores usually stock. Commercial brands (such as Rose’s) offer attractive fluorescent color (and the hue is oddly compelling, I admit), but they’re made primarily from artificial flavors. You’re better off making your own Homemade Grenadine. It’s easy and takes just minutes.
We like to serve the daisy “up” in a cocktail glass, although many people prefer to pour it over cracked ice in a Collins (tall) glass or a rocks glass. For more variations on the drink, see the Notes.
Our recipe for the Rum Daisy is a pretty standard modern version. We adapted it from recipes we found in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book and cocktail historian extraordinaire David Wondrich’s Imbibe!.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to make, and serves one. But drinking alone is never a good idea, so you’ll want to double it.
- 2 ounces light (white) or amber rum (we prefer light rum in this drink, particularly Virgin Islands rum; see Notes)
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ ounce grenadine, preferably homemade
- ~¼ ounce simple syrup, preferably homemade (to taste; may substitute finely granulated sugar)
- ½ ounce fizzy water (or to taste; you can use club soda, seltzer water, or any kind of sparkling water)
- lemon twist for garnish (optional)
- Add the rum, lemon juice, grenadine, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Shake enthusiastically until well chilled (20 or 30 seconds).
- Strain into a cocktail glass. (Or into a rocks or tall glass filled with crushed ice, if you prefer.) Carefully pour in the fizzy water (to give the drink some “sparkle” and character). Stir once to incorporate the water (although this isn’t strictly necessary). Garnish with a lemon twist, if using, and serve.
- As the recipe indicates, this drink can be made with either light (white) or amber rum. We generally prefer white, but both versions are good. Although you can use any good-quality rum for this drink, we think a Virgin Islands rum is particularly appropriate. We usually buy the Cruzan brand (which you can find at almost any good liquor store). Reminder: We’re a noncommercial blog and are not compensated for mentioning brands. We recommend only what we like and use.
- Speaking of the Virgin Islands, there’s a version of the rum daisy called the Santa Cruz Rum Daisy (aka the Saint Croix Rum Daisy). Saint Croix/Santa Cruz is the largest of the Virgin Islands. To make this drink, use 2 ounces of light Virgin Islands rum, 1 ounce lemon juice, ¼ ounce maraschino liqueur, and ¼ ounce orange curaçao. Shake with ice, then strain into a glass. (Maraschino is a clear liqueur from Italy; it’s very different from the liquid that accompanies maraschino cherries. For orange curaçao, you can substitute Grand Marnier.)
- Daisies originally were made with orange curaçao rather than grenadine. To make an original-style daisy, just substitute orange curaçao for the grenadine in our recipe. Shake, then strain into a largish glass that’s half-filled with shaved or crushed ice. Top up the glass with sparkling water (an ounce or two). Stir and serve. As noted above, the original daisy was a more voluminous drink than the ones we make today.
- If you prefer to use another base liquor instead of rum (such as brandy, whiskey, whatever), just substitute it for rum in the recipe and continue as directed. When making a brandy daisy, some folks like to substitute yellow Chartreuse liqueur for grenadine and sugar. You could also add a dash or two of dark rum (brandy and rum being a nice combination).
- Daisies are also great when made with gin or tequila. If you make a tequila daisy and substitute lime juice for lemon and triple sec for grenadine, you’ll have a slightly effervescent Margarita. In fact, a Margarita is essentially a daisy without fizzy water (and the Spanish word for daisy is, of course, margarita). BTW, triple sec is like orange curaçao, but less sweet; Cointreau is a triple sec.
A Cocktail Built for Two
“Give me your answer, do,” I said as Mrs Kitchen Riffs tasted her drink.
“I love the sparkling flavor,” she said. “Fresh as a daisy.”
“Yup,” I said. “This cocktail is one I could drink every daisy.”
“Be careful, though,” said Mrs K R. “Too many of them and you could be pushing up daisies.”
“Oopsie-daisy,” I said. “But I think it’s safe to have one more, if you’re ready.”
“Of course,” said Mrs K R. “I’m no lacka-daisy-cal drinker.”
You may also enjoy reading about:
Brandy Smash Cocktail
Sherry Cobbler Cocktail
Or check out the index for more
I'm in, and I'd like one on the largish size please! This cocktail just made me happy looking at it. I can imagine how happy I'd be drinking one.
Hi Karen, this really is a terrific drink! For the last few weeks it's become our drink of choice. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
This cocktail looks appealing! I love that it is made with light rum and the grenadine gives it a lovely colour. Perfect patio sipper.
That looks so pretty, John, and I bet it does taste good. :)
Good morning John, Now the Daisy Cocktail is a beautiful drink , almost to pretty to sip ... but I'm sipping away . Pass me one with light rum please . ;- D
Hi John, I guess you are bartending today...I will try one, please! This Daisy sounds and looks very refreshing especially like you said on a hot day in the summer. I never had one of these before. I am really not a drinker, but enjoy one now and then. You definitely have given us many good tips and information on how this drink came about and substitutions on the liquor you can use. Love to hear from Mrs Kitchen Riffs...very cute...Thanks for your knowledge and sharing this cocktail...have a wonderful day! Dottie :)
I didn't miss alcohol at all, but now it has changed. I so want this drink <3
This is my kind of drink - rum and a bit of fizz! Such a beautiful picture, too, John!
Hi Natalie, the grenadine really looks so great in this, doesn't it? Lovely hue! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pat, it really is good! We've been have them often. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nee, the daisy really is such a pleasant tipple! Great flavor, fun to look at. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dottie, it's always fun to tend bar! Particularly when I'm making these. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Marta, sorry about the temptation! But time passes quickly, so you can have one before you know it. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Laura, isn't this a great drink? Really worth trying. Thanks for the comment.
I will have one of those, please. And then may be a few more. *Handing over car keys and my cab driver's number*
I love the flavors here! Tucking this away for sure.
Hi John, looks like a wonderful drink, your presentation is quite lovely!
With your website, I could honestly apply to be a bartender, and I would be hired!!!
Cocktails are the best way to beat the heat ;) I just love the flowers in this shot!! Awesome!
I like the "drinking a lot, lately". I would be happy to be drinking a lot of these. Everything would be coming up daisies! Seriously, this does look like the perfect summer way to imbibe!
The Rum Daisy? I have a new drink! Just for the name alone. It looks like something I've needed all day. (yes, it's 9:54am)
Hi Ansh, good idea to plan on a cab when you have a few of these! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Alyssa, isn't this such a good cocktail? Tons of flavor. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Cheri, it really is a great drink. We love 'em! Thanks for the comment.
Hi GiGi, what a nice thing to say! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kristi, I couldn't really showcase the daisy cocktail without daisies in the background, could I? :D Thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, we really like this one a lot! And it really is a nice summery drink. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Maureen, one of these will make your whole day better! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Haha I love the daisies around this cocktail, makes me want to drink it even more :D
Choc Chip Uru
This looks amazing! I'd love to make this cocktail built for two ;)
John: You are a cocktail master. Every time that I stop by, you have some wonderful drinks to make one quite thirsty. I love the daisies on the background.
Love the name! I picture drinking this on a porch overlooking a field of daisies. ;)
Hi Uru, pretty flowers for a pretty cocktail. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Cathleen, this has such a good flavor! Definitely worth trying. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Denise, those daisies were fun to play with! And the drink is fun to make. ;) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Carolyn, this would be a perfect porch drink! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I prefer the (pomegranate) grenadine, too! You're right about the vibrant colour it gives to a drink. Just as lovely as this daisy you just con-cocktail-ed :)
A refined and delicious cocktail! I love its pretty name and color.
Making grenadine has been on my list for some time. Thanks for the reminder. Great looking cocktail and thanks for the history lesson about daisies.
Hi Julie, ;-) Pretty hard to resist a pun, isn't it? And pomegranate grenadine is such nice stuff! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Rosa, this drink really does have nice color! And a great flavor. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Debra, grenadine is so easy to make! I almost always have a bottle in the refrigerator. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I have never heard of a Daisy. Well the cocktail that is. How fun. I can just see you and Mrs. KR having that conversation on a bicycle built for 2. --Rocquie
Definitely an attractive drink! Such an inviting color!
This is such a pretty, sophisticated looking cocktail- it could give the cosmopolitan a run for its money.
What a perfect summer cocktail, John! Love the color and the name, it sound so delicate :)
Who could possibly resist a cocktail with a name like this? I'm a rum girl, so it's right up my alley!
Hi Rocquie, this cocktail isn't all that well known these days. Too bad, because it's great! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Laura, isn't the color great? I love it! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mary Frances, it looks a bit like a como, doesn't it? Better flavor, though, IMO. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Judit, you changed the name of your blog! And this drink is really great. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Sue, rum is such a wonderful spirit, particularly in the summer. You'll like this! Thanks for the comment.
I'm picturing this close to hand while we enjoy the evening on the porch swing...
It looks refreshing and delicious.
This one is such 'sweet'. Good photo with all the daisies. Super easy and the story is short enough I will be able to tell it after I had a couple. I mean come on. They are small in those little dinky glasses. Ha!
OMG! What a beautiful cocktail...love the homemade grenadine and simple syrup...the pictures are just awesome John!
Hope you are enjoying your week :D
This cocktail would be for me, sounds refreshing. I love the pictures, they are really lovely! Thanks for sharing.
lol your so right! Drinking alone is a horrible idea... who me? not me lol. Thanks for the recipe!
Hehe, I love the conversation! What a pretty cocktail and I love how you photographed it with such gorgeous daisies. I hope you will post stories about your time in New York. I'll be adding more posts this week of fabulous eating places we found xx
Love that first picture with all of the daisies! Gorgeous! I can see myself sitting on the front porch sipping on one of these cocktails with Bobby.
Such a gorgeous color! I think I need to get my hands on some real pomegranate grenadine. I always learn a little something when I pop over here. Many thanks!
Hi Donalyn, this is a perfect drink to enjoy on a summer evening! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pam, it is, it is! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Carol, that actually is a pretty dinky little glass in the photos -- a bit over 4 ounces. Two of these is enough, though. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Juliana, it really is a great drink. Thanks for the kind words, and for taking time to comment.
Hi Dawn, isn't this nice? Such a fun drink. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ambar, Mrs KR and I always enjoy sharing cocktails together, just to avoid that drinking alone thing. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Charlie, looking forward to more of your NYC stories. I'll read them while enjoying one of these. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi MJ, that first picture really just kind of suggested itself, given the name of the drink and all. ;-) You and Bobby will enjoy this! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, real grenadine is so nice, and easy to make. It's also great on vanilla ice cream! Or with chocolate brownies (really). Thanks for the comment.
Sounds wonderful! I can imagine those flavors working together into awesomeness!
Hi Taruna, it really is a great combo of flavors! And so refreshing. Thanks for the comment.
The photos of your cocktails are always great but this one is absolutely wonderful. :) I like rum so I'm sure I would enjoy this drink.
That is the prettiest picture ever! It sounds amazing!
Hi Karen, glad you enjoyed the photo! It was a lot of fun to take. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Chis, thanks for that very kind comment.
Such a stunning photo, so clear and crisp!
Have you ever seen light blue daisies?
I know totally off topic, but they are breathtakingly beautiful; so be on the lookout now!
I may be crazy but I think The Rum Daisy just may be my drink of choice for the rest of the Summer, John and perhaps well into the Fall. Of course, I'll be going for the original but hey, I may try it with grenadine too! Thanks for sharing, John...
Hi Dawn, this was a totally fun picture to take! Glad you enjoyed it. And no, I've never seen blue daisies. I'll bet they're spectacular! I'll definitely be looking out for them. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Louise, we like every variation of this cocktail that we've tried! And we're serving some version or another of it to company tomorrow. ;-) You definitely want to try all versions -- each one has something to offer. Thanks for the comment.
That sounds refreshing John. I would love to start out my weekend with one of these. I bet Mrs. Riffs was delighted you bought her daisies even if they were just for the prop... Take care, BAM
Hi Bam, Mrs KR was indeed delighted with the daisies! They're still hanging on, although starting to look a little ragged. Props are fun, aren't they? Thanks for the comment.
lovely citrusy liquor, but i think i gonna prefer it with brandy, rum is too sweet for my licking....
Why do I suddenly have the urge to whip up this cocktail and curl up with my copy of the Great Gatsby? ;)
Hi Dedy, it's wonderful with brandy! Good choice. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pam, ;-) I actually thought about discussing all the literary characters named Daisy somewhere in the post, but decided that was probably stretching things a bit. Thanks for the comment.
I love using grenadine in drinks - I just picked some up recently. Love this drink!
Hi Ashley, grenadine is lovely stuff, isn't it? Love its color and flavor! Thanks for the comment.
This has such a pretty color to it! And love the name!
Hi Shashi, I agree this is such a nice looking cocktail! And I love its flavor. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Delicious-looking cocktail, John. Thanks for sharing, loved the photo
That Rum Daisy drink looks is like a gorgeous lady. All I can say is "WOW." Good post, John. Thanks! :)
Gorgeous and tasty drink! Love!
Hi Peachy, it's really a swell drink! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ray, it really is gorgeous, isn't it? And tasty! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Asmita, I agree, it's both! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
John, A+ for presentation. Makes me want a drink. :)
Hi Madonna, aw shucks, thanks for that nice comment!
Very pretty and attractive drink for ladies! I have so many tops (clothes) with this color of drink. It's one of my favorite! I should save this drink recipe for my theme color. :D
Hi Nami, it really does sound like you should carry this drink around to help coordinate your wardrobe. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
love the color and the name
Hi Candy, I really like the way this drink looks, too. And of course the flavor is terrific! Thanks for the comment.
A wonderful drink and the picture is perfect
Hi Norma, it really is a wonderful drink! Thanks for the comment.
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