Why did these writers drink? Their cocktails of choice and the search for isnperation
There is a bohemian chic that accompanies the boozy writers, especially dead 20th-century American novelists.
Why did these writers drink? Why does anyone drink? If you’re looking for a simple answer, there isn’t one. From loneliness, habit, boredom, stress relief, lack of self confidence, to forgetting the past, enhancing the present, or avoiding the future – some type of inspiration is often given as the reason so many of the literary greats turned to drink.
William Faulkner’s drink of choice was the mint julep. Quoted as saying “a man shouldn’t fool with booze until he’s 50, and then he’s a damn fool if he doesn’t,” Faulkner was fooling with alcohol a long time before his five score years. A recipe for the drink was found at his Rowan Oak estate.
Beer was the alcoholic vice of Stephen King, who, during the late 1970s claimed he got so bad that he couldn’t remember writing Cujo. He consumed his beer at home claiming, “ I didn’t go out and drink in bars, because they were full of assholes like me”.
F Scott Fitzgerald’s description of high-society’s excesses left readers breathless, as did his excuse for flavouring gin, which he believed covered the smell on his breath. His drink of choice was the Gin Rickey, a drink readily available throughout the roaring 20s in various forms including, rum, applejack and scotch. Ultimately, it was the version that called for gin that endured through the great depression and it was his go-to escape route. The gin-heavy recipe from a bar Fitzgerald would have frequented at the time would be 80ml gin, 2 tbsp lime juice, club soda and a very fat lime garnish in a tall glass – NO sugar.
Hunter S Thompson, who, in his day, was noted during his first meeting with a major publisher to have downed 20 glasses of double Wild Turkey, then only to walk out after signing the deal, “as if he’d been drinking tea”. The brand even made it into his most famous landmark work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Finally, how can I write about booze and literature if I don’t mention the most celebrated alcoholic writer of all time, Ernest Miller Hemingway. Nicknaming himself “Papa” while still in his 20s, he was a key figure in the 1920s expatriate community in Paris, known as “the lost generation”. Controversially, it has been suggested that Hemingway may never have tasted a mojito. He hated sweet drinks. He did, however, suck down 17 Daiquiris at the El Floridita, which has two on their menu, the “Papa Doble” and the famously misspelled “E.Henmiway Special”.
Shri Restaurant and Lounge manager Richie Fawcett is an artist who sits on Asia’s 50 best bars voting panel.