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A drink with the author

It has finally gotten above 70 degrees in Baltimore. The air is balmy, and the trees are in bloom, so it’s a day to be giddy and frivolous.

I figured out years ago that William Faulkner’s prose went down more smoothly when consumed with a little bourbon, its natural solvent. So as you settle down in the evening with a book by a favorite author, what beverage should accompany it?

Faulkner: Bourbon and water, and not too much damn water. A good tipple with Eudora Welty as well.

Fitzgerald: Gin, of course.

Jane Austen: Madeira — a little sweeter and lighter than sherry, which would also be suitable.

Dr. Johnson: Tea. You’ll need to keep your wits about you. The doctor himself reportedly consumed 17 cups in succession during one evening of talk.

Mencken: Pilsner.

Nabokov: Champagne.

Joyce: Porter or stout, like the “dozen of stout” delivered in “Ivy Day in the Committee Room.”

Cheever: Martinis. Dry. Straight up. Also good with Edmund Wilson.

Philip Larkin: Gin again.

Barbara Pym: Claret.

Waugh: Brandy.

Wodehouse: Brandy and soda.

Twain: Lager.

Flannery O’Connor; Coffee, black.

If you want more, you’ll have to serve some yourselves. Suddenly, I’m very thirsty.



Posted by John McIntyre at 1:19 PM | | Comments (18)


Pretty good list. Hemingway? An apertif or something with color in it, right? I guess anything with alcohol in it, really.

How about a little Huxley - maybe with some Absinthe? :)

You forgot Hemingway and a mojito

Dostoevsky -- vodka, straight and ice-cold

Malcolm Lowry -- mezcal

Jack Kerouac - well, maybe something to smoke, not drink

William Burroughs - something to shoot up

Coleridge -- opium

A friend gave me Hemingway & Bailey's Bartending Guide to Great American Writers, which is a little book containing short biographical sketches relating to the the featured writers' propensities to imbibe, excerpts of their prose, and drink recipes related to the writers, either by actual preferences or as imagined by the authors of the book. It's a fun book to have around, and the "Hemingway" in the title apparently is Ernest Hemingway's grandson.

J. K. Rowling - Hi-C. Added vodka optional. :-)

Stephen King: Piss-warm Black Label beer

Robert B Parker - Whatever Spenser is drinking in that particular book.

Tolkien - If you are "in" the Shire (or even near it), good English ale, say, Samuel Smith's Nut Brown. White wine if dealing with elves. At all times, a pipe.

Keats - Burgundy, Claret, and Port.

McIntyre: hemlock

(Sorry. Don't mean it all, I'm sure you know. Just couldn't resist.)

See here, Fisk, hold back. Wait for the people who mean it.

E. A. Poe: Gin with laudanum.
Joseph Conrad: Rum and a shot of ice-cold vodka
Philip Roth: a Bloody Mary
H. G. Wells: Single-malt Scotch
Tom Wolfe: Classic Martini
Upton Sinclair: Schlitz and a shot

Bill McKibben or Barbara Kingsolver--beer made from organically grown hops, handbottled of recycled glass, of course.

Homer: Sea-dark wine.

Poe -- Amontillado, of course!

Housman -- Malt (does more than Milton can/ To justify God's ways to Man)

Orwell: Flat Coca-Cola, which you proclaim to be doubleplusdelicious.

I thought the Hemingway drink was a daiquiri?

Dante: A Bellini

Fleming: A Vesper, natch!

Gibran: Something contemplative. . .Earl Grey perhaps?

Sun Tzu: Green tea, hot.

HST: Um. . .ether? I think moonshine would produce a good effect. Or Everclear.

Horace -- Falernian

Demosthenes -- water

Beowulf -- mead

Homer -- kykeon

Keats - a beaker of blush-red wine
Dylan Thomas - warm, flat, Welsh bitter beer (and keep him away from the whisky)
Cervantes - Rioja
Shakespeare - a dish of ale
RL Stevenson - Guinness (or rum, depending on book)

McIntyre's Blog - Water, on the rocks.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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