What could be better than
booze and books. True, overindulging in books won't give you a nasty headache, but both booze and books have the power to intoxicate. Some of the greatest authors in history were also legendary drinkers (not always in a healthy way, but... still). So here are a few famous authors and their signature drinks, for extra authenticity the next time you throw a literary cocktail party.
Now, I'm not advocating that you drink like these authors in your day to day life. "Write drunk, edit sober" is a cute catch phrase until you realize that drunk you is not so great at focusing or typing or coherent sentences. A couple of these authors actually
died from their alcoholism or other substance abuse issues, so... I'm not saying that you should go full Jack Kerouac and road trip across America on a three month margarita bender. I, for one, have always been more of a "drink four cups of coffee and then get heart palpitations" kind of writer. To each their own.
But if you want to see if these authors' favorite drinks can spark your own creativity, I say go for it. Here's some boozy, literary inspiration. Please write responsibly.
Ernest Hemingway: Mojito
Hemingway was an...
enthusiastic drinker, to say the least. He indulged in a wide range of beverages, but the mojito was his particular favorite. The mojito was invented at La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba, where Hemingway liked to hang, drink, and think of new ways to insult women. Or, as he put it, "A man does not exist until he is drunk."
Oh, Jack Kerouac. He's that soulful alcoholic guy you totally had a crush on in freshman year. He partied hard, wrote beautifully, and died of liver failure. His favorite drink was a classic margarita (and his favorite dinner, judging from
On the Road, was apple pie and ice cream). Kerouac freely admitted to being a drunk... but in a sexy way: "As I grew older I became a drunk. Why? Because I like ecstasy of the mind. I'm a wretch. But I love, love.”
Maya Angelou loved
writing with sherry. It was part of her daily routine. She'd rent a hotel room and settle in with a legal pad, an ashtray, and a bottle of sherry, to get the creative juices flowing. She didn't feel the need to wait until cocktail hour, either: "I might have it at six-fifteen a.m. just as soon as I get in, but usually it’s about eleven o’clock when I’ll have a glass of sherry."
Absinthe is not for the casual drinker. It looks like alien blood, tastes like licorice-flavored acid, and makes you feel
weird. Oscar Wilde was no casual drinker though, and this is what he had to say about drinking absinthe: “The first stage is like ordinary drinking, the second when you begin to see monstrous and cruel things, but if you can persevere you will enter in upon the third stage where you see things that you want to see, wonderful curious things.”
Of course, he's also famous for saying that "work is the curse of the drinking class."
Dorothy Parker: Whisky Sour
Dorothy Parker was infamous for her quips, her sarcastic poetry, and her love of cocktails. Whisky sours were her favorite, though she claims to have been a bit of a lightweight: “I wish I could drink like a lady. I can take one or two at the most. Three and I’m under the table. Four and I’m under the host.”
Edgar Allan Poe: Cognac or Brandy Eggnog
Here's a two for one, because Poe loved his seasonal beverages. He was a heavy drinker, he liked to spike his cocktails with opiates, and he may have died from alcoholism (or rabies... the jury's out). What we do know is that he liked cognac, and the Poe family had a special
eggnog recipe for the chillier months. Although, unsurprisingly, Poe was a bit of a sad drunk: “I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge."
F. Scott Fitzgerald: Gin Rickey
Naturally, Hemingway's frenemy Fitzgerald was also a hardcore drinker. Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda both loved a gin rickey (basically just gin, lime juice and club soda), and both like to cause a scene while intoxicated. As Fitzgerald put it, "First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you."
Charles Bukowski: Boilermaker
Charles Bukowski, the "laureate of American lowlife," was all about bourbon and beer. But if you've ever read any of his semi-autobiographical novels, you won't be surprised to hear that he drank almost anything he could get his hands on: "I went to the worst of bars hoping to get killed but all I could do was to get drunk again."
Truman Capote: Screwdriver
Truman Capote called orange juice and vodka his "orange drink." It's a cute name, but less cute is the fact that the
author struggled with substance abuse for most of his writing career. He was pretty upfront about who he was, too: “I’m an alcoholic. I’m a drug addict. I’m homosexual. I’m a genius.” Breakfast at Tiffany's
William Faulkner: Mint Julep
Like any classy southern author, Faulkner enjoyed a good mint julep (preferably while sitting on a porch). And compared to some of the other authors on this list, he had a reasonably responsible idea about when to start drinking: “There is no such thing as bad whiskey. Some whiskeys just happen to be better than others. But a man shouldn’t fool with booze until he’s fifty; then he’s a damn fool if he doesn’t.”
Anne Sexton and her BFF Sylvia Plath liked to hit the bar for martinis after their poetry class. They would drink, complain about men, and philosophize about death. Years later, after Plath died, Sexton
wrote a poem to commemorate her, recalling all their morbid conversations after school: “the one we talked of so often each time/we downed three extra dry martinis in Boston.”