Ernest Hemingway lived a life of perilous adventure, exotic travel and dramatic romance. He was the original Most Interesting Man in the World and like that character journeyed through life drink at hand.His stories swell with spirits. In “A Farewell to Arms,” a martini makes Frederic Henry feel “cool and clean” and “civilized” after the horrors of World War I. Thomas Hudson describes a blend of Gordon’s gin, coconut water, lime and bitters as tasting “as good as a drawing sail feels” in “Islands in the Stream.”
It’s the recipe for a Green Isaac’s Special, one of several beverages Hemingway invented (find the recipe below).
“Hemingway was sort of like Churchill (who said), ‘I’ve taken more out of alcohol than it’s taken out of me.’ He lived a full, full life and alcohol was certainly part of his muse,” said Philip Greene, author of “To Have and Have Another, a Hemingway Cocktail Companion.”
A Hemingway fan since high school, Greene works as a trademark attorney for the U.S. Marine Corps at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Among his ancestors is Antoine Amedee Peychaud, a 19th century New Orleans pharmacist who created Peychaud’s Bitters and is credited with coining the term “cocktail.” At some point, Greene’s appreciation for Hemingway and cocktails converged and he set out to write the definitive book on Hemingway’s drinks from A to Z.
“I’m just lucky nobody wrote the book before I did,” said Greene, 54, who methodically read everything Hemingway wrote, from novels to letters, to compile the list. “He was always telling the reader what the character was drinking or telling a friend, ‘this is how I make a martini’ or ‘this is how I make a Bloody Mary.’”
Greene’s book is full of anecdotes about the author, photographs and vintage advertisements for liquor. He said he was “fanatical about authenticity” when it came to the recipes. He’ll demonstrate how to make some of the drinks next Thursday and people will be able to taste them. Books will be available for purchase.
“I couldn’t just make it up or go with something I found on the Internet because there’s plenty of that nonsense out there,” he said.
In the 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises,” narrator Jake Barnes drinks a Jack Rose at the bar of the Hotel Crillon in Paris while awaiting Lady Brett Ashley. For the recipe Greene located a 1920s cocktail book written by the owners of Harry’s New York Bar, a Paris watering hole frequented by Hemingway and other expatriates.
While drinking was part of Hemingway’s lifestyle, Greene does not think he drank while writing. He doesn’t believe Hemingway ever said, “Write drunk, edit sober,” a saying often attributed to him.
“I don’t think he followed that. He drank after he wrote he said, ‘as a way of replenishing my spirit.’ It was a way to have a few drinks and then go to sleep and the next morning he’s ready to write again. I can’t prove he didn’t say it but everything you read about him suggests he didn’t.”
Greene found only one reference to Hemingway drinking and writing in the memoir “A Moveable Feast,” which describes him at age 23 in a Paris cafe sipping a glass of rum.
“That’s the only thing I’ve ever found where he had a drink while writing.”
If You Go
What: Papa’s Pilar Cocktail Party
When: 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. March 3
Where: Best Western Plus University Inn, Moscow
Tickets may be purchased by calling the University of Idaho English department at (208) 885-6156 or online at uidaho.edu/hemingway. People who purchase tickets for A Moveable Feast receive a free ticket to the cocktail party, which is for ages 21 and older.
Green Isaac’s Special
2 ounces London dry gin
4 ounces coconut water (not milk)
Juice of 1 lime
2 to 4 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake all ingredients well with ice, then transfer contents of shaker into a Collins glass, adding more ice as needed. Garnish with a lime wedge or peel.
From: “To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion”