Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “a man does not exist until he is drunk.” From the hills of Italy, to the sweeping streets of Paris, to the beaches of Havana, this austere outdoorsman’s choice of libations always reflected his surroundings. Like his travels and his love life, this matter-of-fact man’s man’s drinking was also legendary. We have compiled 5 cocktails that Papa Hemingway enjoyed along the way.
1) Dry Martini
Like Jake, the storyteller in The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway passed some of his early years as a correspondent and expatriate with his first wife in Paris during the 1920s. He argued and drank with the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein. He threw back his fair share of apéritifs (pre-dinner drinks) including vermouth, champagne and many, many dry martinis.
2 oz. Gordon’s gin
1 tsp. + a few drops Noilly Prat vermouth
Pour ingredients into an ice-filled shaker. Shake, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with an olive.
2) Bloody Mary
There is a myth that while living in Paris with his wife Mary, Hemingway was ordered by doctors to quit the drink. At Hem’s favorite watering hole of the moment, Harry’s, the bartender concocted a drink that the writer could enjoy without the scent of alcohol on his breathe, allowing him to slyly disobey his “bloody wife.” Thus, the Bloody Mary. While a number of sources have disproved this tale, the literary giant still imparted this recipe to his friend Bernard Peyton.
“To a large pitcher (anything smaller is ‘worthless’) add: 1 chunk of ice (the biggest that will fit) 1 pint of vodka 1 pint chilled tomato juice 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 jigger fresh lime juice Pinch celery salt Pinch cayenne pepper Pinch black pepper Several drops of Tabasco
Keep on stirring and taste it to see how it is doing. If you get it too powerful weaken with more tomato juice. If it lacks authority add more vodka.”
April 5, 1947, by Ernest Hemingway
3) Death in the Afternoon
Ernest Hemingway was renowned for his love of violence and the heat of battle. He fought in the WWI. He survived two plane crashes; he even hunted large game on an African safari. Among his other passions were bullfights. The writer spent years examining the life and death struggle of the matador and the ritual practices of bullfighting. From this immersive research came Death in the Afternoon his serious study of bullfighting, not to mention this serious beverage.
1½ oz. absinthe
4 oz. cold brut champagne
Pour a jigger of absinthe into a champagne flute. Add iced champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness (about 4–5 oz).
4) Daiquiri (Papa Noble)
In the 30s, Hemingway spent hours at the famous El Floridita Bar in Havana, Cuba. It was here that he invented the Papa Noble, a daiquiri unlike any you’ve tried before. The drink is blended like a traditional daiquiri, but that’s where the parallels end. Once poured the drink more resembles a sour.
4 oz. Bacardi white-label rum
¼ oz. Luxardo Maraschino 5
2 limes, hand squeezed
½ grapefruit, hand squeezed
Fill an electric blender one-quarter full of shaved or cracked ice. Add all of the ingredients and blend on high until the mixture turns cloudy and light-colored. Strain into a chilled collins glass.
There is an inscription in the Havana bar, La Bodeguita del Medio that reads, “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita.” Legend has it that Hemingway himself wrote this, despite Hemingway’s distaste for syrupy sweet cocktails. Papa was a diabetic. And as such, took most of his drinks without sugar. But like the mythic man’s lifework, what counts is the story, that and this refreshing drink.
6 fresh mint sprigs
1 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup 2 oz. light rum Lime wedge
Crush 5 mint sprigs into the bottom of a chilled highball glass. Pour in lime juice, simple syrup, and rum. Fill glass with crushed ice. Garnish with lime wedge and remaining mint sprig. Hemingway would sometimes add a splash of club soda.