In Louisiana, You Can Buy Daiquiris At A Drive-Through!
Image Credit: "To-go" daiquiris from Candy Shack

THE sunny terrain of south Louisiana is no stranger to heat waves. This US state has over 3,000 patients yearly being treated at hospitals and emergency wards due to heat-related ailments. Perhaps in a bid to combat this, drive-through daiquiri stands sprouted like wildflowers in Louisiana in the 1980s, in turn, causing quite a stir right from the start.

The drive-through (or drive-thru) daiquiri is a Louisiana institution that has captured the hearts and taste buds of both locals and tourists in New Orleans since Glynn Weber's Glynn's Daiquiri Place opened its doors in September 1982. However, the concept of the drive-through daiquiri arguably came about a year earlier in Lafayette, with the overnight success of David Ervin's Daiquiri Factory. This charming little stand on Johnson Street offered a variety of 15 flavours of frozen drinks, constantly whirring away in their drive-through machines.

In essence, the drive-through daiquiri is a frozen alcoholic beverage obtained specifically through a drive-through service.

Now, let's address the elephant in the room— drive-through daiquiris are legal in New Orleans, despite the seeming contradiction of combining "drive-though" and "daiquiri." Here's the lowdown: a customer drives up to the window, stays in their car while the employee checks their ID and takes their drink order, and then the drink is handed to the customer through the window. However, there is an open container law in the state, making it illegal for both the driver and passenger to possess an open container of alcohol in a vehicle. To circumvent this, drive-through daiquiris are cleverly served in sealed plastic or styrofoam "go-cups" with lids. In other words, you can legally enjoy a daiquiri in your vehicle as long as the cup remains sealed, devoid of any straw peeking out, and hasn't had any contents removed. 

Speaking of another crucial aspect — age restrictions — it's illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase alcohol in New Orleans. However, if you're 18 years old, public possession or consumption of alcohol is legal as long as you're with a guardian who is 21 or older, it's for religious purposes, or it's within a private residence. While many bars in the city allow 18 year olds to enter, they aren't permitted to buy alcohol on the premises. Further, anyone over the age of 15 can apply for a driver's learning permit in New Orleans. So, in theory, a 15-year-old could visit a drive-through daiquiri spot with the adult they are practising driving with, as long as they (or the adult) don't make any purchases. 

The Lafayette Drive-Through Phenomenon

Back in the day when frozen daiquiris emerged, things didn’t quite run like the well oiled machine of the present. Especially when the neighbours and do-gooders were campaigning for stricter laws against tipsy driving.

The Lafayette drive-through was truly a trailblazer; a whopping 15 frozen drink machines ran round the clock, whipping up mixes like strawberry daiquiris, whiskey sours, and a little something called Jungle Juice, which was a fusion of grain alcohol and fruity elixirs.

Then, on June 25, 1982, Lafayette declared, "No more open containers!" as they passed a local ordinance. On that same day, the Daiquiri Factory unleashed an epic promo extravaganza. They rolled out free-flowing champagne, dished out snazzy T-shirts, and unveiled their groundbreaking invention – a sealed container like no other. It was a Styrofoam cup equipped with a plastic lid, securely fastened by a piece of tape. According to The Associated Press, Ervin sneakily sold lemonade in cups identical to the ones used for daiquiris and other frozen concoctions. His secret plan was to confuse the police, making it hard for them to figure out who was sipping what.

To cover their bases, the Daiquiri Factory handed out a note along with a copy of the ordinance to customers, politely asking them to refrain from drinking on their property and to peruse the ordinance like responsible citizens.

On that fateful promotion day, folks eagerly queued up for their libations, only to receive traffic tickets from the police – not for having open containers while driving, but for violating traffic laws. Talk about a twist of fate!

Tracing The Roots of Frozen Daiquiris

Traditionally, daiquiris were rum-based frozen drinks made by combining fresh fruit or fruit juice with sugar. Jennings Cox is credited with inventing the famous cocktail known as the daiquiri, which emerged during a time of limited resources. It was the 1940s, with wartime rationing limiting supplies of such alcohol as whiskey and gin. At the same time, free trade with the Caribbean Islands was encouraged, even romanticised, which resulted in the new import of run becoming widely popular. 

In the early 1900s, Cox was stationed in Cuba, where he encountered a shortage of traditional spirits such as whiskey or gin. Faced with this challenge, Cox turned to the locally available ingredients, specifically rum, limes, and sugar. Mixing these elements together, he crafted a refreshing and innovative drink that would eventually become the daiquiri. This ingenious creation not only showcased Cox's resourcefulness but also introduced the world to a delightful blend of flavours that would captivate countless cocktail enthusiasts — like Ernest Hemingway and John F Kennedy — for generations to come. 

Frozen daiquiris are conceptually similar, but instead of following the traditional recipe, they refer to any and every flavoured frozen beverage, be it with chocolate syrup, peaches or cucumbers and watermelon, Another salient feature of this drink is that they’re affordable and are often sold in gallons. It is a big business in New Orleans, with hundreds of shops and drive-throughs contributing to the multi-billion-dollar empire. Despite the hefty investment in commercial-grade daiquiri machines, which can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 each, selling daiquiris for $5 to $13 per drink allows these machines to pay for themselves in no time.