Ernest Hemingway famously said, “Write drunk; edit sober.” And who are we to argue with a legendary author known almost as much for drinking alcohol? To say Hemingway loved his cocktails would be a massive understatement. Being known for binge drinking is only the tip of things, too. Hemingway immortalized many cocktails in his books, spent time creating his own versions of several classics, and got behind many of his friends’ creations over his lifetime. But what exactly was Hemingway drinking to get to that state of mind? Author Philip Greene has made a substantial effort to compile all drink references from Hemingway’s books and written his own about the subject. To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion talks about the cocktails in Hemingway’s life. Let’s explore a few interesting ones.
As a regular at the El Floridita bar in Havana, Cuba in the early 1920s, Hemingway was rewarded for his patronage with a drink named after him. Bartender Constantino Ribalaigua created an upscale version of the Daiquiri known as the Hemingway Daiquiri (also known as the Papa Doble). This version included a recipe of white rum, maraschino liqueur, grapefruit juice and lime juice. Simple syrup is usually added though Hemingway was known to forgo the sweetness. He was also known to put more than a few away in a single visit!
Hemingway also created a handful of cocktail recipes of his own. Take the classic Tom Collins, replace the soda with coconut water, and you have the drink the way Hemingway liked it. And again, he always skipped the sugar part of the drink. As a fan of anise-flavored spirits, Hemingway created Death in the Afternoon, named after one of his books. The cocktail recipe was published in 1935 with the following instructions: ”Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”
As noted, Hemingway was well known for making references to drinks he enjoyed in his books. The Jack Rose cocktail is an example made famous in his book The Sun Also Rises. Other favorite cocktails had connections to his friends — the Josie Russell, named after one of Hemingway’s friends from his Key West days. Josie was able to supply Hemingway with rum from Cuba during Prohibition and afterward opened one of his favorite hangouts called Sloppy Joe’s. While living in France, Hemingway’s friend named Gerald Murphy created the Bailey, which became a staple while living there. Hemingway enjoyed variations on the Cuba Libre and added Angostura bitters to the classic Gin and Tonic to liven it up. There are dozens of other cocktails consumed and written about: we found a great recap of many in this article.
Do yourself a favor and try some of these Hemingway classics … in moderation.