The Hemingway Bartender’s Companion

On Monday, November 9, Phil Greene presented an evening of cocktails and drinking lore of author Ernest Hemingway, in a seminar titled, “To Have and Have Another, The Hemingway Bartender’s Companion.” Sponsored by Mount Gay Rum, Plymouth Gin, Hendrick’s Gin, Laird’s Applejack, Domaine de Canton, and Pernod-Ricard, the evening featured anecdotes from Hemingway’s life, recipes for several of his favorite cocktails (shown below), excerpts from his novels, short stories and letters, and background on the author and his fascinating life and times.

Phil demonstrated and served the Jack Rose Cocktail, and read the passage from the novel “The Sun Also Rises” in which it’s featured:

“At five o’clock I was in the Hotel Crillon, waiting for Brett. She was not there, so I sat down and wrote some letters. They were not very good letters but I hoped their being on Crillon stationery would help them. Brett did not turn up, so about quarter to six I went down to the bar and had a Jack Rose with George the barman.”

Jack Rose Cocktail

1.5 ounces Laird’s Applejack

.5 ounce Stirrings Grenadine

.5 ounce fresh lime juice

Add all ingredients and ice to shaker, shake well, strain into chilled cocktail glass or coupe.

From “Islands in the Stream,” guests enjoyed the Green Isaacs Special (named for the Isaacs Islands, just north of Bimini), and read from the novel:

“Where Thomas Hudson lay on the mattress his head was in the shade cast by the platform at the forward end of the flying bridge where the controls were and when Eddy came aft with the tall cold drink made of gin, lime juice, green coconut water, and chipped ice with just enough Angostura bitters to give it a rusty, rose color, he held the drink in the shadow so the ice would not melt while he looked out over the sea.”

Green Isaacs Special

2 oz Hendricks Gin

4 oz green coconut water (Vita Coco, available at Whole Foods)

1 oz lime juice

4 drops Angostura Bitters (or “just enough Angostura bitters to give it a rusty, rose color”)

Build in Collins glass.

From “Across the River and Into the Trees,” and a 1947 letter Hemingway sent from Cuba to his publisher, Charles Scribner, Phil offered the Montgomery Martini:

“We have real Gordon’s Gin at 50 bucks a case and real Noilly Prat and have found a way of making ice in the deep-freeze in tennis ball tubes that comes out 15 degrees below zero and with the glasses frozen too makes the coldest martini in the world. Just enough vermouth to cover the bottom of the glass, ounce 3/4 of gin, and the Spanish cocktail onions very crisp and also 15 degrees below zero when they go in the glass. This has been rugged as I said but there are better ways of sweating it out than putting your head on the wailing wall.”

Montgomery Martini:

1.5 oz Plymouth Gin

1 tbsp Dolin Vermouth

1 frozen Spanish cocktail onion

2 drops orange bitters (such as Regan’s or Fee Brothers)

Stir well with ice, strain into chilled martini glass.

“Waiter,” the Colonel called, then asked, “Do you want a dry Martini, too?”

“Yes,” she said, “I’d love one.”

“Two very dry Martinis,” the Colonel said. “Montgomerys. Fifteen to one.”

He did not like to call for Montgomerys in a tone that could be overheard because there were two obvious Britishers at the next table.

Next on the agenda was the infamous Papa Doble Daiquiri, also known as the “Double Frozen Daiquiri, No Sugar,” featured in “Islands in the Stream,” and elsewhere:

Papa Doble Daiquiri

3 ¾ oz Mount Gay Eclipse Silver Rum

Juice of 2 limes (about two ounces)

Juice of ½ grapefruit

6 drops of Luxardo maraschino liqueur

Blend well with ice. Serve in a large goblet.

“This frozen daiquiri, so well beaten as it is, looks like the sea where the wave falls away from the bow of a ship when she is doing thirty knots.”

And the last drink demonstrated and served to the crowd, fittingly, was the Death in the Afternoon, from the classic 1935 literary cocktail book, “So Red the Nose or Breath in the Afternoon:”

“Pour 1 jigger of absinthe into a champagne glass. Add iced champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink 3 to 5 of these slowly. (EDITOR’S NOTE: After six of these cocktails The Sun Also Rises.)”

From the novel, “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” Hemingway wrote of absinthe:

It was a milky yellow now with the water and he hoped the gypsy would not take more than a swallow. One cap of it took the place of the evening papers, of all the old evenings in cafes, of all chestnut trees that would be in bloom now in this month, of the great slow horses of the outer boulevards, of book shops, of kiosks, and of galleries, of the Parc Montsouris, of the Stade Buffalo, and of the Butte Chaumont, of the Guaranty Trust Company and the Ille de la Cite, of Foyot’s old hotel, and of being able to read and relax in the evening; of all the things he had enjoyed and forgotten and that came back to him when he tasted that opaque, bitter, tongue-numbing, brain-warming, stomach-warming, idea changing liquid alchemy.

Phil also offered three other recipes to the audience:

The Gimlet, from “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber:”

2 ¼ oz Plymouth or Hendrick’s Gin

¾ oz Rose’s lime juice cordial

Stir with ice, garnish with a lime wedge or wheel

“It was now lunch time and they were all sitting under the doublegreen fly of the dining tent pretending that nothing had happened.

"Will you have lime juice or lemon squash?" Macomber asked.

"I’ll have a gimlet," Robert Wilson told him.

"I’ll have a gimlet too. I need something," Macomber’s wife said.

"I suppose it’s the thing to do," Macomber agreed. "Tell him to
make three gimlets."

The mess boy had started them already, lifting the bottles out of the canvas cooling bags that sweated wet in the wind that blew through the trees that shaded the tents.”

Campari and Gordon’s Gin, from “Across the River and Into the Trees:”

“He heard her coming up the stairs and noticed the difference in her tread when she was carrying two glasses and when she had walked down bare-handed. He heard the rain on the windowpane and he smelled the beech logs burning in the fireplace. As she came into the room he put his hand out for the drink and closed his hand on it and felt her touch the glass with her own.”

It’s our drink for out here,” she said. “Campari with Gordon’s and ice.”

“I’m certainly glad you’re not a girl who would say ‘on the rocks.’”

2 oz Gordon’s Gin

1 oz Campari

Pour over ice, garnish with orange peel

And, Hemingway’s Bloody Mary:

“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. (with two rs) 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 lime 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.”

Phil will be presenting his Hemingway seminar in Spring, 2010 at the Key West Yacht Club, an event sponsored by the Key West Art and Historical Society. Stay tuned for more details…

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One Response to The Hemingway Bartender’s Companion

  1. rick says:

    this is very interesting. please post when and where the next one will be held. i called the kw art and historical, the kw yacht club and the kw harbour yacht club, and no one seems to know anything about the past or upcoming seminars.thanksrick

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