He lived like few ever would. In a different era at a time that today evokes nostalgia in the best form, Ernest Hemingway lived a dream life as an author, journalist, short story writer and sportsman. The Nobel Prize for Literature and Pulitzer Prize for fiction winning writer lived large and was part of the Lost Generation that also included such stalwarts as Ezra Pound, Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein to name a few. Not to forget the Roaring Twenties with the likes of F Scott Fitzgerald that influenced Hemingway to try his hand at writing novels.
Hemingway produced his best works between the 1920s to 1950s with his writing reflecting everything from his love for Paris and French wine to his love for cocktails across different continents. So much so that Philip Greene wrote a book called To Have And To Have Another that consists only the author’s anecdotes, recipes and drinking experiences in his books and life.
Like his father before him, Ernest Hemingway took his own life by putting a bullet to his head and killed himself on July 2, 1961. His literary genius ensured he was never forgotten and with an entire century since the Lost Generation first came about, there’s no better time than now to reminisce about Hemingway’s love for drinks.
While the list is long and Greene’s book is the definitive primer on the topic at present, there are two drinks that are firmly associated with Papa, the nickname that stuck with Hemingway ever since he visited San Fermin in Pamplona during the bullfighting season in 1923.
The first one is called Hemingway Daiquiri and is the more popular one that’s almost standard fare in most cocktail bars in America and can be had at any time of the day. The other cocktail is called Death in the Afternoon and is almost exclusively known to have been created by Hemingway himself and is potent enough to justify its name. Let’s have a look at both.
The Hemingway Daiquiri bears the authors’ name so there’s no two ways about the fact that this is a popular drink. Hemingway loved it so much that he once drank 17 glasses of the rum cocktail at one go.
The Daiquiri is a simple enough cocktail with three main ingredients – rum, sugar and lime juice. Hemingway Daiquiri got the author’s name after he tweaked the recipe to remove sugar and instead add demerara to the mix.
Another significant contribution? He doubled the quantity of the rum that goes into the usual Daiquiri. Proceed with caution before you try this one we’d say.
Death In The Afternoon
Here’s the simple recipe from Hemingway himself. “Pour 1 jigger of absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”
Hemingway had a weakness for champagne having once declared, “If I have any money, I can’t think of any better way of spending money than on Champagne.” Adding absinthe gives the drink a bitter as well as herbaceous profile.
The author was careful not to indulge in sweet cocktails after his father contracted diabetes. Death In The Afternoon was the perfect cocktail for Hemingway as it combined his love for champagne and abstinence from sugar.
If you’re trying this drink out, make sure to garnish with a lemon peel to transition the cocktail to the current era. Remember not to worry if you can’t drink three to five of them as Hemingway suggests too.
Hemingway loved a good drink, period. From wines to whisky to rum and absinthe, there’s little that the author didn’t go after. He was even credited with inventing the Bloody Mary for a long time! All of which is to say that there’s lots more to be written about Papa and his love for drinks but for now we’ll sit back and enjoy two of his best creations while pondering his literary legacy.
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Priyanko Sarkar is the Founder Editor of Gurgl.in. He has been a writer for over 15 years and this site is his attempt to document India's growing beverage sector with impactful and interesting stories. His favourite drink is Vietnamese Coffee and his favourite spirit is Turkish Raki.