Hemingway’s Cocktails: A Pickled Poet

standard February 29, 2016 Leave a response

Authors and alcohol have always had a strained relationship, but there is perhaps no American author more known for boozy bar brawls and extra-strength libations than Ernest Hemingway. A veteran of World War I and a correspondent during both the Spanish Civil War and World War II, Hemingway surely saw enough of the world’s darkness to seek solace in liquor, but unlike many other authors, his indulgence was often very public. Naturally, this gave way to stories which quickly became legends that continued living long after Hemingway took his own life in 1961.

Legend of the Hemingway Daiquiri

Hemingway DaiquiriAmong those legends is the origin of the Hemingway daiquiri, a strong blend of white rum—and some other stuff. But mostly white rum.

Some say that Hemingway invented this special daiquiri recipe by substituting extra rum for sugar, which he didn’t care for in his drinks. What’s more likely is that someone simply rechristened the papa doble cocktail, calling it the Hemingway daiquiri in homage to the man who probably drank more of them than any other man alive. But the most honest historians tell us the truth: no one really knows how the Hemingway daiquiri (also called the Hemingway special or simply the Hemingway cocktail) came about.

His True Favorite: The Dry Martini

Hemingway Making a Dry Gin MartininHemingway the man declared his favorite cocktail to be a dry martini, simple and clean on the surface, but full of nuanced complexities when consumed—not unlike Hemingway’s writing. In fact, he was known for adding more gin to his martinis without adjusting the vermouth—another favorite of his—eventually making Hemingway’s concoction undrinkable for most.

This, perhaps, is the best explanation for his alcoholic namesake going to the daiquiri. With maraschino liqueur, grapefruit juice, and lime juice to balance the alcohol, the Hemingway daiquiri recipe was simply more palatable than his method for martinis.

Hemingway’s Cocktails: Pick Your Favorite

Whatever the case, Hemingway left behind a long list of alcoholic favorites extending far beyond the Hemingway daiquiri. Here are three that will surely inspire your inner-Hemingway—though hopefully without all the bar fights.

Hemingway Daiquiri:Hemingway Daiquiri

  • 2 oz. Bacardi White Rum*
  • ¾ oz. Lime Juice
  • ½ oz. Grapefruit Juice
  • ½ oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • Lime wheel or Luxardo cherry (optional garnish)

* Note: Hemingway allegedly drank Bacardi, you can use any quality white rum

Pour ingredients (except garnishes) into a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake, strain, and serve in a cocktail glass. Garnish with lime wheel or two Luxardo cherries.

Dry MartiniHemingway Dry Gin Martini

  • 2 oz Tanqueray Dry Gin
  • Splash Cinzano Dry Vermouth
  • Pitted Spanish Olives (can be stuffed with pimento)

Pour gin and vermouth into a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake (Hemingway’s were never stirred) and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with one or more olive.

Death in the AfternoonHemingway's Death in the Afternoon Cocktail

  • 1 oz. Pastis
  • 5 oz. Champagne (extra brut), chilled

Pour Pastis into a Champagne glass. Top with chilled Champagne


J.G.C. Wise is a writer, musician, and cocktail enthusiast always on the lookout for ways to tie the three things together. After a serendipitous stint mixing classic cocktails at a private party, Mr. Wise began experimenting with mixology in his kitchen--a pastime that is still going strong five years later. He is most proud of the original cocktails he's created, and always looks forward to a new occasion calling for a new, unique libation.