It’s no surprise that a relational stereotype between writers and alcohol exists. One often imagines a writer sitting in a smoky room with a cigarette between their lips and a drink by their side. Alcohol was believed by many writers to unlock their creativity and F. Scott Fitzgerald believed he wrote better while he drank. He was certainly not the only one to think that although I would expect alcohol to feel like a more useful tool when suffering from writer’s block.
Many famous writers are associated with certain drinks. As the Next Great American Novelist by day and a bartender by night, this intrigued me. At the very least, I figured these had to be more interesting than the flavored Smirnoff mixers I make for frat boys. Therefore, I have compiled for your undivided and enraptured reading pleasure, a list of famous authors and their drink of choice. I can’t guarantee if you drink like them then you’ll write like them but it couldn’t hurt, right?
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Drink of Choice: Mojito
What It Is: A Mojito is a rum drink mixed with fresh mint (among other things) that originated in Cuba, which explains why Hemingway might have been drawn to them. Mojitos don’t necessarily have the manliest reputation but I’m sure Hemingway would have disagreed. Although, realistically speaking, Hemingway could sit at my bar and order something like an Appletini and I’m pretty sure no one would dare mock him for it and anyone who did would get a punch to the face.
Bartender Tip: Many bars don’t always have fresh mint to make Mojitos, so if you’re interested in ordering one, ask first. It’s definitely worth it to wait until you’re somewhere that uses fresh mint than settle for bottled, pre-mixed Mojitos.
Author: Jack Kerouac
Drink of Choice: Margarita
What It Is: Everyone’s spring break favorite, a margarita is tequila, triple sec, lime, and sweet and sour. Kerouac reportedly became a fan of these while traveling through Mexico and his love of these drinks carried through the rest of his life.
Bartender Tip: Don’t order your margarita frozen if the bar is extremely busy. A bartender’s four favorite words are “the blender is broken.”
“Shoot, and it was working just before you got here!”
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Drink of Choice: Gin Rickey
What It Is: A Gin Rickey is a gin and soda with a little bit of lime juice. A simple, classic drink, a Gin Rickey is a great standard if you’re interested in gin. Fitzgerald apparently believed that no one could smell gin on his breath, but if the stories of his and his wife’s antics are true (dancing naked in a fountain, boiling party guests’ watches in soup, etc.) then no one would need to smell his breath.
Bartender Tip: Get to know your gins! If you’re interested in gin drinks then familiarize yourself with the different brands. Some places stock a decent gin in their well but it’s a good idea to know what you’re ordering.
Author: Oscar Wilde
Drink of Choice: Absinthe
What It Is: Ah, yes, the green fairy. Absinthe is a highly alcoholic beverage distilled from green anise, fennel, and various other herbs, most notably wormwood which is supposed to give consumers hallucinations.
There are no guarantees your hallucination will look like this.
It’s much more likely to look like a demonic Honey Boo Boo.
Bartender Tip: The United States lifted the ban on absinthe in 2007 provided that it not be sold with grande wormwood, the hallucinogenic, as an ingredient. However, it is still bright green and it tastes like black licorice so if that’s your thing then hop to it.
Author: Charles Bukowski
Drink of Choice: Boilermaker
What It Is: It’s a pint of beer and a shot of whiskey. Traditionally, you take the shot of whiskey and then drink the beer at your normal rate, but a boilermaker can also be served by dropping the shot in the beer.
Bartender Tip: I don’t have much to recommend for a boilermaker other than suggest you choose whiskey and beer that don’t suck. However, I did find a quote from Bukowski relating to alcohol that resonated with me as a writer:
“The nine-to-five is one of the greatest atrocities sprung upon mankind. You give your life away to a function that doesn’t interest you. This situation so repelled me that I was driven to drink, starvation, and mad females, simply as an alternative.”
I’m already a drunk so I can only surmise that starvation and mad females can’t be far behind.
Author: Jane Austen
Drink of Choice: Constantia Wine
What It Is: Constantia wine is a type of wine made from grapes sown in South Africa. During the height of their popularity, Constantia wine was heavily exported to Europe where Ms. Austen found it and drank it often as well as incorporated it into much of her writing. The fields were devastated in the late nineteenth century due to disease, but Constantia wine resumed production in the 1980s.
Bartender Tip: Drinking Constantia wine will not guarantee you go home with Mr. Darcy.
Author: Hunter S. Thompson
Drink of Choice: Chevas Regal or Wild Turkey on the rocks
What It Is: Specific brands of whiskey served over ice. Serious drinkers are serious about their alcohol preferences.
Bartender Tip: I wouldn’t recommend mixing up a true Hunter S. Thompson cocktail of uppers, downers, and whatever the hell else he was on.
You’re more likely to end up like this instead of writing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Authors: Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton
Drink of Choice: Martini
What It Is: Gin or vodka served chilled in a cocktail glass, generally with vermouth and often garnished with olives. Plath and Sexton met during a poetry class and used to go out for martinis afterwards at the Ritz in New York City.
Bartender Tip: Familiarize yourself with the variations on martinis so you’ll know how to order one. Here are a few variations to get you started:
This probably all goes without saying but exercise caution and moderation. Just because you drink the same drinks as famous writers doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily create art of their same magnitude.
Then again, what the hell do I know?
“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
–Hunter S. Thompson
Written by: Emily Regan