Hemingway & Bailey's Bartending Guide to Great American Writers (8 page)

BOOK: Hemingway & Bailey's Bartending Guide to Great American Writers
James Jones

“It is a far, far better thing than we have ever done to be disciples of Bacchus rather than of Christ.”

In Paris, Jones, James Baldwin, and William Styron would gather at Jones’s house and drink well into the night. On one particular evening, they decided to go out on the town. When the sun came up, Baldwin folded, but Jones and Styron kept drinking. Noon found the two writers in the Ritz Bar, still hard at it. By three o’clock, after almost twenty hours of drinking, they decided to return to Jones’s place. “We went into the house,” Styron recalled, “and the first thing I heard was a huge crash.” Apparently, Jones’s wife, Gloria, had hurled a large metal teapot at them—missing Jones’s head by only an inch.


1921–1977. Novelist. Jones’s most famous works were inspired by his experiences in the Pacific during World War II.
From Here to Eternity,
which won the National Book Award, centers around the Pearl Harbor attack;
Some Came Running
concerns a veteran’s life after the war; and
The Thin Red Line
is about the Battle of Guadalcanal.


During his tour of duty in the South Pacific, Jones undoubtedly felt worlds away from Singapore’s elegant Raffles Hotel, but that is where the Singapore Sling was invented. According to lore, barman Ngiam Tong Boon was asked by visiting luminaries to create a cocktail that celebrated the natural resources of the region. The original recipe, long lost, has been replaced by countless variations, ours included.

1½ oz. gin

¾ oz. Cointreau

1 oz. lemon juice

1½ oz. pineapple juice

Top with club soda

¼ oz. Benedictine

½ oz. cherry brandy

Orange slice

Maraschino cherry

Pour gin, Cointreau, lemon and pineapple juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes. Shake well. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice cubes. Top with club soda. Drizzle in brandy, then pour Benedictine over the back of a bar spoon so as to float it on top. Garnish with orange slice and cherry. Serve with two straws.

From Here to Eternity,

, Sergeant?”

“I dont care,” he said. “Any drink’ll do.”

“You dont want a drink,” Karen Holmes said. “You dont really want a drink. What you really want is this,” she said, looking down at her own body and moving her hands out sideways like a sinner at the altar. “Thats what you really want. Isnt it? Thats what you all want. All all of you ever want.”

Warden felt a shiver of fear run down his spine. What the hell is this, Milton? “Yes,” he said, “Thats what I really want. But I’ll take a drink too,” he said.

Jack Kerouac

“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.”

Before going on the road, Kerouac went off to sea. A young man with a thirst for adventure, he signed up for the U.S. Navy. Waiting for the qualifying exam, Kerouac ended up in Boston on a bender. He inexplicably joined the Coast Guard and then was sworn in as a marine later that same day. Realizing he was technically a member of three branches of the armed services, Kerouac did the only sensible thing—drank more. He eventually passed out at a seamen’s bar and in the morning found himself on the SS Dorchester bound for Greenland. At some point in all of this he had called his parents and told them that he would be home “a little late.” He was now a merchant marine, carrying a small bag of clothes and books. Although the navy would later diagnose Kerouac a “Schizoid Personality” and discharge him, he continued to drink like a seaman for the rest of his life.


1922–1969. Novelist and poet. Kerouac coined the term “Beat Generation” for a movement of kindred souls who wanted to break free of 1950s conventions. His best-known novel,
On the Road,
brought him instant fame, and his work went on to inspire a great many writers, including Bob Dylan, Hunter S. Thompson, and Ken Kesey.


Kerouac had a great love for Mexico, for “the good old saloons of real Mexico where there were girls at a peso a dance and raw tequila.” Tequila, of course, being the country’s national beverage, made from the indigenous blue agave plant. “On the road!!” Kerouac wrote. “But on! Mexico calls me.” One sip of a Margarita and it will be calling you too.

1½ oz. silver tequila

1 oz. Cointreau

½ oz. lime juice

Coarse salt

Lime wedge

Rub the rim of a chilled cocktail glass with lime wedge and press into a plate of salt. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes. Shake well. Strain into the cocktail glass. Garnish with lime wedge.

The Margarita can also be served on the rocks in an Old-Fashioned glass.

On the Road,

—was a drink, so we bought a quart of California port for thirty-five cents and went to the railroad yards to drink. We found a place where hobos had drawn up crates to sit over fires. We sat there and drank the wine. On our left were the freight cars, sad and sooty red beneath the moon; straight ahead the lights and airport pokers of Bakersfield proper; to our right a tremendous aluminum Quonset warehouse. Ah, it was a fine night, a warm night, a wine-drinking night, a moony night, and a night to hug your girl and talk and spit and be heavengoing.

Ring Lardner

“A person that said that drinking in the U.S. was still in its infancy would be just about hitting the nail on the hammer.”

A drinker’s drinker, Lardner was legendary for his stamina. As a young sportswriter in Chicago, he once arrived at the paper too loaded to write. To protect his job, a co-worker put him into a taxicab and sent him home. Imagine the surprise when Lardner showed up at the office only a few hours later. Having once again toured the bars of Chicago, he was drunk out of his mind and the taxicab’s meter had reached $130. Years later, at the Friar’s Club in New York, Lardner would set perhaps his personal record—he drank for sixty hours straight.


1885–1933. Sports columnist, short-story writer, and playwright. Lardner’s epistolary columns about baseball became the collection
You Know Me, Al
. His first book of short stories,
How to Write Short Stories (with Samples),
brought him critical success.
June Moon,
a play written with George S. Kaufman, was his only Broadway hit.


A Manhattan is a Martini for whiskey drinkers, and Lardner certainly was one. The cocktail was first served at a party at the Manhattan Club in the 1874. Legend has it that Lady Randolph Churchill (Winston’s mother) took the first sip and lifted her glass, toasting, “To the Manhattan.”

2 oz. rye, bourbon or Canadian whiskey

1 oz. sweet vermouth

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Maraschino cherry

Pour whiskey, vermouth, and bitters into a mixing glass filled with ice cubes. Stir well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry.

From “The Love Nest,” 1926

? I think I’ll just take a sip of it and see what it’s like. It can’t hurt me if it’s so good. Do you think so, Mr. Bartlett?”

“I don’t believe so.”

“Well then, I’m going to taste it and if it hurts me it’s your fault.”

Celia poured a whiskey glass two-thirds full and drained it at a gulp.

good, isn’t it?” she said. “Of course I’m not much of a judge as I don’t care for whiskey and Lou won’t let me drink it. But he’s raved so about this Bourbon that I did want to see what it was like. You won’t tell on me, will you, Mr. Bartlett?”

“Not I!”

“I wonder how it would be in a high-ball. Let’s you and I have just one.”

Sinclair Lewis

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