“You’re a daisy if you do” and “You’re no daisy. No daisy at all.” are two Doc Holliday lines that people love to quote from the 1993 film, Tombstone. It’s lines like this that make Tombstone so memorable. Here’s a question for you though. Did you know that the real Doc Holliday used this phrase?
Doc Holliday has always been charismatically portrayed in the movies. Tombstone certainly would be the prime example. Not only does Doc Holliday get to be a bit wicked while also standing firmly loyal to Wyatt Earp, but he also uses all kinds of weird and wonderful phrases in his language. I’ve already written about the meaning and background to “I’m your huckleberry“. Now, I want to turn my attention to “You’re a daisy.”
What does it mean?
Simply put, “daisy” means the best or most marvelous. Kind of similar to saying that something is the cream of the crop.
Victorians and the “daisy” phrase
The use of daisy in conversation was not something that Doc Holliday made up. It was a fairly fashionable term in the late 1870s. If you look through old newspapers from the time period, there are plenty of references to people being daisies because they were doing something wonderful for their town. The Victorians had an obsession with flower language. Every flower was symbolic. Daisies represented purity and innocence. If you fancied someone and that interest was reciprocated with a bouquet of daisies, it meant that the gentleman thought you were wonderful. It would also imply they were interested in courting you and pursuing a relationship.
Did Doc really say “You’re a daisy?”
Yes, according to eyewitnesses of the gunfight and also to newspaper accounts, he did. During the gunfight Frank McLaury said “I’ve got you now, you son of a bitch.” at which Doc Holliday replied, “Blaze away, you’re a daisy if you have.”
Around 1876, a cocktail called the Gin Daisy was invented. In 1887, the cocktail was included in The Bartender’s Guide by Jerry Thomas. Variations using whiskey and rum became popular right through the 1880s. These recipes included ingredients that have slipped from popularity now. I’ve included a couple in case you’d like to give them a go. I’m sure it will add to your pleasure while watching Tombstone!
Whiskey Daisy (from The Bartender’s Guide 1887)
- 3 dashes gum syrup
- 2 dashes Orgeat syrup
- The juice of half a small lemon
- 1 wine-glass of Bourbon, or rye whiskey
Fill glass one-third full of shaved ice. Shake well, strain into a large cocktail glass, and fill up with Seltzer or Apollinaris water.
- 2oz gin
- 1oz fresh lemon juice
- 1oz club soda
- 3/4 oz grenadine
Mix ingredients together in a cocktail shaker. Pour and drink.