The Hemingway Cocktail Companion

To Have and Have Another

“Will you have a drink?”  I held out the flask. “Hemingway is my name.”

Welcome to To Have and Have Another – the Hemingway Cocktail Companion, the blog behind the book, which will be published in 2012 by Perigee Books, an imprint of Penguin Group.  Here, you’ll learn the stories behind the drinks that Hemingway’s characters were enjoying  and also on those that Papa himself drank.  To Have and Have Another will offer fascinating and lively background on those various drinks, their ingredients, their histories, and the characters—real and fictional—associated with them.  Each drink is chosen because of its intimacy with Hemingway’s life and work, as excerpts from his writings generate recipes and instructions on how to recreate the drink of Hemingway’s world—and for a moment or two, to be transported to that place: the Hotel Crillon, the Rotonde, Harry’s New York Bar, the Ritz Paris, Sloppy Joe’s in Key West, El Floridita in Havana, the bars and restaurants of Madrid, the Green Hills of Africa, Venice, the Michigan woods.

About the author:  Philip Greene is an attorney, writer and cocktail historian.  He is Trademark and Internet Counsel to the U.S. Marine Corps, stationed at the Pentagon.  He is also one of the founding members of and legal counsel to the Museum of the American Cocktail, based in New Orleans.  Phil manages the Museum’s robust D.C. monthly cocktail seminar program, and also does cocktail presentations around the world, and has presented in New Orleans, Miami, New York, Tampa, San Francisco, as well as in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Wellington, New Zealand.  He has presented numerous times before the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., as well as for the Key West Art and Historical Society, and the New Zealand Embassy.

In his legal career, Philip held the position of InternetNZ Senior Research Fellow in Cyberlaw in 2007, during which he taught Internet and intellectual property law at Victoria University School of Law in Wellington, New Zealand.  In that capacity, he also wrote and published two major papers and engaged in numerous public speaking engagements and radio and press interviews.

Phil has also served as a Brand Ambassador for Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur, and does outreach, cocktail design, consultation, and special events for Maurice Cooper et Cie, LLC.  Phil also offers consulting services for the bar and restaurant trade, and is based inWashington,D.C.  His web site is located at PhilGreeneCocktails.spaces.live.com.

The Drinks

The Americano

1 oz Campari

1 oz Italian (Sweet) Vermouth

1-2 oz seltzer water (to taste)

 Add all ingredients to a rocks or highball glass filled with ice.  Stir.  Garnish with an orange wedge or a lemon twist.  Enjoy.

This is one of four Campari-based cocktails that I’ll feature in this book, the others being the Negroni, Gin and Campari on the Rocks, and the Gin, Campari and Soda.  Hemingway was likely introduced to both Campari and Cinzano Vermouth in Italy during World War I, while serving as a Red Cross ambulance driver, and later while recuperating from his war wounds.  In fact, during a conversation with Gertrude Stein in A Moveable Feast, he mentions an “old man with beautiful manners and a great name who came to the hospital in Italy and brought me a bottle of Marsala or Campari and behaved perfectly, and then one day I would have to tell the nurse never to let that man into the room again.”  Stein dismisses him predictably, “those people are sick and cannot help themselves and you should pity them.”  Hmmmm, must be a good story there, but I digress…

Campari, an aperitif bitters, was invented by Gaspare Campari in the 1860s at the Bass Bar in Turin, Italy, where he worked as a maitre licoriste, or master bartender.  Campari is a blend of natural ingredients, mostly herbs, spices, bark, fruits and fruit peels.  The recipe is a trade secret; according to Gruppo Campari, only one person in the world knows the entire formula.  Its distinctive carmine hue derives (at least originally) from dye extracted from the cochineal, a beetle-like insect native to Mexico, Central and South America.  Campari is one of two types of bitters.  Aperitif bitters (such as Campari, Amer Picon, Fernet Branca, and Averna) are typically enjoyed as a beverage, while cocktail bitters (Angostura, Peychaud’s, Fee Brothers, et al.) are used only a dash at a time.  An easy way to remember, aperitif bitters = big bottle, cocktail bitters = small bottle.

 The Americano is a simple drink, made up of equal parts Campari and Italian (sweet) Vermouth, with a splash of seltzer to give it effervescence.  Said to have been invented by Campari around 1860, it was originally called the Milano-Torino, named for the origins of its two main ingredients, Campari from Milan and Cinzano Vermouth from Turin.  It became the Americano in the early 20th Century, as many American tourists were seen enjoying the drink.  If it enjoyed a spike in popularity during Prohibition, perhaps it’s because Americans were acquiring a taste for it Stateside.  You see, in spite of its alcoholic content, Campari had been classified by the U.S. government as a medicinal product and was available to savvy Americans by prescription (!).

Adding an equal portion of gin to the Americano yields another delightful drink, the Negroni; I’ll have more to say about that below.  In Across the River and Into the Trees, in what is perhaps the only mixological slip-up I’ve encountered in my research, Hemingway refers to two people “drinking negronis,” but the drink he describes sounds more like an Americano.  I offer this excerpt riddled with contradiction OR I offer this excerpt with that caveat (choose one).

In the bar, sitting at the first table as he came in, there was a post-war rich from Milan, fat and hard as only Milanese can be, sitting with his expensive looking and extremely desirable mistress.  They were drinking negronis, a combination of two sweet vermouths and seltzer water, and the Colonel wondered how much taxes the man had escaped to buy that sleek girl in her long mink coat and the convertible he had seen the chauffeur take up the long, winding ramp, to lock away.  The pair stared at him with bad manners of their kind and he saluted, lightly, and said to them in Italian, ‘I am sorry that I am in uniform.  But it is a uniform.  Not a costume.”  Then he turned his back on them, without waiting to see the effect of his remark, and walked to the bar.  From the bar you could watch your luggage, just as well as the two pescecani (sharks) were watching theirs.

            Hemingway also makes mention of the Negroni and Americano in a short story titled The Good Lion.  Intended as a children’s story (!), it told of a lion who existed on a higher moral plane; whereas “the bad lions would roar with laughter and eat another Hindu trader…, the good lion would sit and … ask politely if he might have a Negroni or an Americano and he always drank that instead of the blood of the Hindu traders.  One day he refused to eat eight Masai cattle and only ate some tagliatelli and drank a glass of pomodoro.” 

The Americano has also found its way into other works of prose, notably in the Ian Fleming novel Casino Royale.  In the first of the James Bond series of thrillers, the Americano carries the distinction of being the first cocktail ever to grace the lips of 007.

Fleming saw fit to feature the Americano in another Bond story, this time, From a View to a Kill:

 James Bond had his first drink of the evening at Fouquet’s. It was not a solid drink. One cannot drink seriously in French cafés. Out of doors on a pavement in the sun is no place for vodka or whisky or gin. A fine a l’eau is fairly serious, but it intoxicates without tasting very good. A quart de champagne or a champagne à l’orange is all right before luncheon, but in the evening one quart leads to another quart and a bottle of indifferent champagne is a bad foundation for the night. Pernod is possible, but it should be drunk in company, and anyway Bond had never liked the stuff because its liquorice taste reminded him of his childhood. No, in cafés you have to drink the least offensive of the musical comedy drinks that go with them, and Bond always had the same thing–an Americano–Bitter Campari, Cinzano, a large slice of lemon peel and soda. For the soda he always specified Perrier, for in his opinion expensive soda water was the cheapest way to improve a poor drink.

I consider both the Americano and the Negroni as an excellent introduction to aperitif bitters, in this case Campari, but also others such as Fernet Branca, Averna, Aperol, Cynar, Luxardo Bitter, Gran Classico, Amer Picon, and other such products.  Enjoy.

Hemingway’s book and story titles were often revelatory.  Across the River and Into the Trees told the story of an aging warrior’s final days.  The title derives from the great Confederate general, Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, whose dying words were, “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.”

Bloody Mary (makes one pitcher)

16 oz vodka

16 oz tomato juice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (or A1)

1 ½ oz fresh lime juice

Celery salt (to taste)

Cayenne pepper (to taste)

Black pepper (to taste)

 Per Hemingway’s recipe:  “take a good sized pitcher and put in it as big a lump of ice as it will hold.  (This is to prevent too rapid melting and watering of our product.)”  Add all above ingredients in order, stirring all the while.  Taste it occasionally, to determine if more of any ingredient is desired; after all, the Bloody Mary is a blank canvas, awaiting each artist’s expression. 

 Suggested reading: A Moveable Feast, Selected Letters 

There seem to be as many stories relating to the origin (and naming) of the Bloody Mary as there are variations on the recipe.  Well, perhaps that’s an exaggeration.  The most popular is that the Bloody was invented by M. Fernand “Pete” Petiot, who tended bar at Harry MacElhone’s Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, circa 1921.  The drink was given the name “Bucket of Blood” by an American entertainer by the name of Roy Barton.  He said it reminded him of a club back in Chicago by that name.   As the story goes, once Prohibition ended, Petiot landed a job at the King Cole Room of the St. Regis Hotel in New York, where he revived the drink but called it the Red Snapper (Bloody Mary being too coarse a name, it seems).

Legendary bartender Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff tells of a 1997 conversation with Harry MacElhone’s grandson, Duncan, which support’s Petiot’s story.  It seems that Petiot named the drink “Bloody Mary” after a woman customer “who sat at the bar for long hours pining for a boyfriend who seldom kept appointments with her.”

Another version of the story tells us that actor/toastmaster/bon vivant George Jessel invented the Bloody Mary in 1927, as a way of combating a wicked hangover in Palm Beach, Florida.  It was attributed to Jessel in a 1939 item in the New York Herald Tribune, in Lucius Beebe’s gossip column “This New York.”  Beebe noted that “George Jessel’s newest pick-me-up which is receiving attention from the town’s paragraphers is called a Bloody Mary: half tomato juice, half vodka.”  As for the name, it was said to have come from Mary Brown Warburton, a friend of Jessel’s and a member of Philadelphia’s Wanamaker department store family.  While sampling it, she apparently spilled some on her white evening dress, and blurted out “”Now, you can call me Bloody Mary, George!”

But like any drink worth its celery salt, there are multiple claims of inventorship, including one connected to, you guessed it, Hemingway himself.  According to Colin Peter Field, head bartender of the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Paris:

“Bernard ‘Bertin’ Azimont, the bartender of the Ritz Paris’s Petit Bar (and later Head Bartender of the hotel), told me one day over lunch how he invented the Bloody Mary in the 1950s: he had, he said, concocted it for Ernest Hemingway.  The doctors had forbidden the writer to drink.  Mary, Hemingway’s wife, had taken the interdiction very seriously and had placed him under close watch.  Stealth and cunning were needed, and so it was that Bertin devised the ingenious mixture, a drink packed full of alcohol that could not be detected on the writer’s breath.  Hemingway, he said, was so pleased that he had got the better of his ‘bloody wife’ that he named the drink after her.  And thus came to pass, one might imagine, the Bloody Mary.  If only it were that easy: there exists a letter written by Hemingway himself in 1947 giving the precise recipe for the Bloody Mary, offering information that he had enjoyed it in China as early as 1941.”

Indeed, the letter he references goes like this:

 “To make a pitcher of Bloody Marys (any smaller amount is worthless) take a good sized pitcher and put in it as big a lump of ice as it will hold.  (This is to prevent too rapid melting and watering of our product.)  Mix a pint of good russian vodka and an equal amount of chilled tomato juice.  Add a table spoon full of Worcester Sauce.  Lea and Perrins is usual but can use A1 or any good beef-steak sauce.  Stirr. (sic) Then add a jigger of fresh squeezed lime juice.  Stirr.  Then add small amounts of celery salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper.  Keep on stirring and taste it to see how it is doing.  If you get it too powerful weaken with more tomato juice.  If it lacks authority add more vodka.  Some people like more lime than others.  For combatting a really terrific hangover increase the amount of Worcester sauce – but don’t lose the lovely color.  Keep drinking it yourself to see how it is doing.  I introduced this drink to Hong Kong in 1941 and believe it did more than any other single factor except perhaps the Japanese Army to precipitate the fall of that Crown Colony.  After you get the hang of it you can mix it so it will taste as though it had absolutely no alcohol of any kind in it and a glass of it will still have as much kick as a really good big martini.  Whole trick is to keep it very cold and not let the ice water it down.  Use good vodka and good tomato juice.  There is a vodka made in N.J. by a Russian process that is o.k.  Can’t remember the name and don’t want to tout you onto the wrong one. . . .  There is a very fine Mexican sauce called Esta Si Pican (sort of mild Tobasco) that is good added to the Bloody Marys too.  Just a few drops.”

  “Another time, at Toot’s Shor’s restaurant, Hemingway ordered vodka and the waiter said no vodka was left.  ‘No vodka?’  Hemingway said.  ‘’I’ll make some.  Just bring me a potato and a lamp.’”

But the story of Hemingway’s affection for the Ritz Bar and Bertin’s inimitable Bloody Marys shouldn’t end there.  It seems that in 1950, Hemingway “adopted the bar as his Head Quarters and spent many hours there planning his strategies for the horse races at Auteuil.  He would even … pick up the bets of” the other Ritz bartenders, and all of this was done “under the profound inspiration of Bertin’s Bloody Marys.”  Hemingway’s friend and biographer A.E. Hotchner was a part of that “racing syndicate,” and here’s his account:

“But in that fall in Paris we were at the simpler partnership level of a racing syndicate.  Our routine for Auteuil was to convene in the Little Bar of the Ritz every race day at noon, and while Bertin, the maestro of that boite, made us his non-pareil Bloody Marys, we would study the form sheets and make our selections.  Sometimes Georges or Bertin or one of the other barmen in the big bar would put some money on our mounts and we would bet it for them.  Bertin was an indefatigable student of the track, more occult than scientific, and on one occasion he handed Ernest a list of eight horses which he had brained out as the winners of the eight races on the card that day.  Ernest studied the list and said, ‘Okay, tell you want I’ll do, Bertin – I’ll bet ten thousand francs on each and we’ll split the winnings.’  All of Bertin’s horses ran out of the money, but when we returned that day Ernest gave Bertin five thousand francs.  ‘One of your horses got scratched,’ he told him, ‘and we saved the loss.’”

Awfully generous of him, no doubt.  But Hemingway was a bit more flush in 1950 than in, say, 1922, when he was an unknown, starving writer in Paris.  But that didn’t stop him from visiting the track now and then.  He had a different strategy then, and while it didn’t involve the Ritz or its bartenders, cocktails did play a role.  In a 1922 letter to Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, describing Ernest and Hadley’s visit to Milan, Hemingway wrote:

“We’ve been here for about a week playing the races with tremendous success.  I get up at dawn and study the dope-sheet and then after my brain has cracked under the strain Mrs. Hemingway, without about three cocktails and an indelible pencil to aid her, picks winners as easily as cracking peanut shucks.  With the aid of her alcoholic clairvoyance and an old friend of mine that I think sleeps with the horses we’ve had 17 winners out of 21 starts. …  It is raining hard today and that will probably mean disaster at the track, I don’t think Mrs. H’s alcoholic genius could function on a muddy track…””

            Alas, I don’t know what Hadley was drinking to give her that “alcoholic clairvoyance” at the track, undoubtedly more research is required.  Perhaps it was the Bloody Mary!  Perhaps not.  As a final note on the Bloody, Hemingway made no mention of garniture in his recipe.  Celery, of course, is a standard adornment, and other options abound.  My own favorites include pickled string beans (as is served at the Columns Hotel in New Orleans), or pickled okra.  Cheers.

In Hemingway’s Bloody Mary recipe, he claims to have “introduced this drink to Hong Kong in 1941.”  While that might have been a boast, he did in fact visit the Far East with his then-wife Martha Gellhorn, they were covering the war between Japan and China (this was prior to Pearl Harbor and the U.S.’ entry into World War II).  While on that long and arduous assignment, Hemingway faced innumerable challenges when looking for a decent drink.  For example, he had to endure such bizarre local “delicacies” as snake wine and bird wine; both were rice wines, one with dead snakes in the bottom of the bottle, the other with dead cuckoos.  And, no, I don’t have any cocktail recipes using these choice ingredients.

On another occasion in Chungking, Hemingway met a young Navy lieutenant named Lederer, who purchased two cases of whiskey at an auction.  Hemingway tried to persuade Lederer to sell him some, but he declined; he was saving them for a farewell party.  Hemingway adopted the role of Epicurious, and advised him to “never delay kissing a pretty girl … or opening a bottle of whiskey.”  He made a deal with Lederer, swapping six bottles of whiskey for six writing lessons.  At the end of the sixth lesson, Hemingway told Lederer that a writer above all had to be compassionate, and never laugh at another’s mistakes.  Further, he had to roll with the punches, and bounce back.  He then suggested that the young man go home and sample his whiskey.

When Lederer did so, he discovered that he’d been swindled; the bottles contained tea, not whiskey.  “Hemingway had known the truth for nearly a week.  Yet he had neither laughed at the victim nor evaded his part of the bargain.  Lederer salted his story away for twenty years.  From that day in Chungking he always remembered Hemingway as a civilized man.”

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About philgreene61

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One Response to The Hemingway Cocktail Companion

  1. Thanks for sharing. Very cordial news. Bartenders at City Park Grill (Anex in EH times)in Petoskey cofirm his fav drink as the Gin Gimlet with a lime twist. Ernest loved gin.

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