As a fan of both Ernest Hemingway and good cocktails, it was something of a no-brainer for me to attend a class taught by author Philip Greene at The Astor Center of New York City called, “To Have And Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion”. Greene conducted the class as a way of publicizing his new book of the same name.
Greene started the evening talking about how Hemingway wrote about drink with incredibly compelling descriptions in such a way that it added great depth to the characters in his novels. The act of writing left Hemingway like a rung-out dishrag, Greene added; Hemingway would get up early in the morning and write, then drink in the afternoon and at night. Somewhere along the way – especially when he lived in Key West, Florida and in Cuba, he would find the time to venture out on a boat and go fishing.
To start the evening, we were greeted with a cocktail Greene had previously prepared himself – the Jack Rose, which was made famous in Hemingway’s novel, “The Sun Also Rises”. There are two recipes for the Jack Rose – the traditional one and a more elaborate one derived from what is believed to have been used in Paris during the 1920’s. We had the latter, which was quite good; the traditional recipe, which is considerably less ambitious, may be something worth trying – but the mixture of so many different ingredients from the Paris recipe adds so much greater complexity.
Next, we moved on to a classic – The Martini! Specifically, the gin martini, which is my preference over the vodka martini. Hemingway liked his martinis in extra dry – a way which I would have no argument with because he was very stingy with the vermouth to keep it clean (the ratio of gin to vermouth would often be something like 15 to 1). The type of martini that Hemingway preferred might be described as something close to a Gibson because it would include a cocktail onion. In fact, he preferred his onion to be frozen (at 15 degrees below zero, when possible). To keep the drink clear, stir; shaking it will make the martini cloudy (Hemingway liked his stirred so it would remain clear).
We followed this up with the Daiquiri – something which Hemingway particularly enjoyed in the warmer climates, especially when he was in Cuba. This drink was written about in the novel “Islands In The Stream”. There are two versions – one which was called The Hemingway Special and the other referred to as Papa Doble (“The Wild Daiquiri”) because it contained twice as many of the ingredients as The Hemingway Special. On this evening, we made the simpler (and arguably weaker) Hemingway Special, which was supposedly named when a bartender was given instructions for its preparation by Papa himself, so he named the libation after the great author.
Finally, we made The Americano – although this one is something of a mystery to me, since it seemed a bit out of place, having been attributed to Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, in “A View To A Kill”. Basically, this is a Negroni without the gin.