Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Hemingway Not Only Enjoyed His Cocktails, He Put Them Into His Writing

     Papa not only enjoyed a good cocktail ,  but also included many epic drinking episodes in his writing. In his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, 90 years ago this year.    The characters were seldom without an alcoholic beverage in their hands.     According to legend, he created his own eponymous variation of the classic daiquiri, which still appears on at the El Floridita where he created it, and in addition a potent champagne-and-absinthe blend called “Death in the Afternoon”.

     His writing seems particularly relevant today considering the recent rebirth of the cocktail-and that his style of drinking is finally back in vogue.   We as a country seem to be following in his footsteps: In 2015, according to the latest figures released by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States earlier this week, the United States consumed 215 million 9-liter cases of booze, which was up 4.9 million cases from the previous year.   If Hemingway lived today, he'd be found drinking with the people, throughout the United States in its many high quality craft cocktail lounges.

There are so many drinking scenes in his books that drinks historian Philip Greene wrote a fascinating Hemingway cocktail companion called To Have and Have Another, which came out in 2012.   "He wants the reader to feel what the character was feeling," explains Greene. "He's telling you something about the character by what he's drinking and where he's drinking."

     According to Greene, though he took Campari and his beloved Gordon's Gin and Rose's Lime Juice  along on an African safari, he wasn't afraid to try new things. "He's going to drink what the locals drink," says Greene. "I think he was an omnivore." 

     It didn't hurt either that Hemingway could hold his liquor for the most part. "He had a prodigious tolerance," says Greene, noting that many of the writer's contemporaries were lightweights. "Fitzgerald didn't have much of a tolerance. Ian Fleming didn't have much of a tolerance."   Hemingway was prone to fabrication, but one drinking yarn we know is true involves the legend of his downing 17 double daiquiris at Havana's famed El Floridita in a single session.