From the emergence of the true Daisy in the mid 1880’s, American mixology has cultivated a wide range of amounts for the liqueur used in this popular type of drink.
In some sources, like Harry Johnson’s 1888 book, “The New and Improved Bartenders’ Manual,” the liqueur is a major sweetener of the sour juice, and so the amount of liqueur used was appropriate to that task.
In other sources, like A. William Schmidt’s 1892 book, “The Flowing Bowl,” the Daisy was made exactly as a regular, plain Sour, sugar and all – but with the addition of a liqueur. In this type the liqueur is used more as an accent of flavor, and only a small amount was used while sugar (or sugar syrup) did the main job of sweetening.
The true Daisy appeared during a time when the amount of sour juice used in Sours was in flux. Since the almost-negligable amount of sour juice used by Jerry Thomas in his Sours in 1862, the genreal trend had been to increase the sour juice amounts. But, no major source indicates the use of more than a pony (1 fluid-ounce) of sour juice per jigger (2 fluid-ounces) of liquor. That 2:1 relationship between the liquor and the sour juice also happens to match the old American proportions for Punch (2 parts sour, 1 part sweet, 4 parts strong, 3 parts weak). Harry Johnson used about three-quarters of a pony of sour juice in his Daisies and Sours. A. William Schmidt used about half of a pony.
Finding the best basic forms for the Daisy includes keeping track of moving parts, so to speak. If more sour juice is used, more liqueur and/or sugar should be used. If less sour juice is used, less liqueur and/or sugar should be used. In addition to that, considering whether to use the liqueur as a major flavor in the drink or just an accent will also usually affect the amount of sour juice (and perhaps, sugar,) that should be used.
Considering the Daisy dilemma, I can quickly think of six appropriate basic forms. I would suggest that anyone not finding any of the following acceptable just doesn’t like punch. Please send me an e-mail if you have a strong preference – or an additional formula for Daisies that you think is tasty!