High School teachers are fond of boring their students to death with Hemingway before they’re quite ready, assigning the essentials that have associated him with war stories, (A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls) and the deliberately plain prose of The Old Man and the Sea. I can still hear my 15-year-old self complain, “Seriously, it’s 120 pages of an old dude trying to kill a fish. Who cares?”
But Hemingway was something of a brilliant travel writer as well. He’s taken his readers along to destinations as varied as Paris, where he wrote the Lost Generation fragments that later became A Moveable Feast, Spain, where he attended the infamously wild and booze-fueled Festival of San Fermín (the running of the bulls) as detailed in The Sun Also Rises, or East Africa, where he went on a month-long safari that served as material for Green Hills of Africa.
“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk.”
His penchant for a good, strong alcoholic beverage was almost as ubiquitous as his terse, frill-free writing style, and as any good traveler should, Hemingway loved to sample the local flavors. In Spain and Italy, he waxed poetic about the sensory perfection of wine. Back in the States, he used glasses of whiskey to lubricate his typewriter, famously stating “write drunk, edit sober”. While living in Paris, he grew a taste for absinthe and champagne, often mixing them to make a cocktail called Death in the Afternoon. Brilliant advice for either a more adventurous life or being a less obnoxious drunk, Hemingway once proclaimed, “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk.”
The birth of the Hemingway Daiquiri…
Hemingway held all his favorite homes and drinks in his heart, but with a winter residence in both Cuba and Key West, he showed a particular fondness for the Caribbean and its cocktails. “My mojito in the Bodeguita del Medio and my daiquiri in the Floridita”, a signed Hemingway quote, hangs on the wall of Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba, a place also frequented by Salvador Allende and Pablo Neruda, and the birthplace of the mojito. El Floridita, his other favorite Havana bar, is the birthplace of his preferred daiquiri, El Papa Doble, now called the Hemingway Daiquiri. Spending afternoons throwing back six, seven, even up to twelve of these babies in a row, he earned the namesake.
“This frozen daiquiri, so well beaten as it is, looks like the sea where the wave falls away from the bow of a ship when she is doing thirty knots.” -Islands in the Stream
The Hemingway version of the traditional daiquiri is a little less fruity and a littly more alcohol-y, the way I like it. Although he drank his frozen & frosty, I prefer mine straight up, so that’s how I wrote the recipe. If you’re lucky enough to be on a hot, sunny beach right now, you’re all but required to add some ice to the recipe and blend it up.
The Hemingway Daiquiri
- 2 oz (a generously-poured shot) of white rum, Hemingway preferred Bacardi White Label
- 3/4 oz (1 1/2 tbs) of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- 1/2 oz (1 tbs) of freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/4 oz (1/2 tbs) of maraschino cherry juice (from the jar of cherries)
- 1-2 maraschino cherries
- 1 grapefruit slice and a lime peel twist for garnish
Place the two maraschino cherries in the bottom of your chilled cocktail glass. Combine the rest of the ingredients, sans garnish, in a jigger with ice and shake. Pour into your cocktail glass. Slice the grapefruit slice down the middle and place it on the glass rim with your lime peel twist. If you’re like me, and you suck at making twisty fancy garnish things, just drink the damn thing.
If you enjoyed reading about Hemingway’s drink preferences, Philip Greene, a well known cocktail historian (yes, that’s a job, and no, it’s not fair) wrote an entire book on it.
Let us know how you like it in the comments!