Cocktails in Literature
You can find a lot more cocktails in literature on my Facebook Group “Cocktails in Media.” If you’re looking for something specific then use the group search bar. Cheers!
1599 Julius Caesar, Shakespeare
Brutus: Speak no more of her. Give me a bowl of wine.
In this I bury all unkindness, Cassius.
Cassius: My heart is thirsty for that noble pledge.
Fill, Lucius, till the wine o’erswell the cup;
I cannot drink too much of Brutus’s love.
1809 A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, Washington Irving
"...gunpowder race of men who lived on hoe-cakes and bacon, drank mint-juleps and apple-toddy..."
“This class of beverages originated in Maryland, whose inhabitants were prone to make merry and get fuddled with mint-julep and apple-toddy."
"They were, moreover, great horse-racers and cock-fighters; mighty wrestlers and jumpers, and enormous consumers of hoecake and bacon. They lay claim to be the first inventors of those recondite beverages, cock-tail, stone-fence, and sherry cobbler.”
Read on Google Books here .
1821 The Spy, James Fenimore Cooper
The author writes about a fictional character named Betty Flanagan who is based on a real-life character, Catherine Hustler. “Betty had the merit of being the inventor of that beverage which is so well known, at the present hour, to all the patriots who make a winter’s march between the commercial and political capitals of this great state, and which is distinguished by the name of ‘cocktail.’” You can download an audiobook for free here . This book is regarded as the first great success in American fiction.
1823 Saint Ronan’s Well, Sir Walter Scott
A Gin-Twist is mentioned: “Sir Binco, I will beg the favour of your company to the smoking-room, where we may have a cigar and a glass of gin-twist.”
A Gin-Twist is at this time is said to gin, hot water, lemon juice, and sugar.be
Read it for free on Google Books here .
1824 An Essay on the Inventions and Customs of Both Ancients and Moderns in the Use of Inebriating Liquors, Samuel Morewood
“Time adds much to the mildness and value of rum, which the planters, it is said, often improve by the addition of pineapple juice.”
1838 The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, Charles Dickens
“Mr. Stiggins was easily prevailed on to take another glass of the hot pineapple rum and water, and a second, and a third, and then to refresh himself with a slight supper previous to beginning again.”
There are many mentions of rum throughout the book. Read it on Google Books for free here.
1843 Martin Chuzzlewit, Charles Dickens
“He could…smoke more tobacco, drink more rum-toddy, mint-julep, gin-sling, and cocktail, than any private gentleman of his acquaintance.” Dickens talks about a large Sherry Cobbler. You can download an audiobook for free here .
1857 Tom Brown’s Schooldays, Thomas Hughes
“Here, Bill, drink some cocktail.”
1869 Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain
Many cocktails are mentioned as the men request American cocktails from a French bartender including Champagne Cocktail, Sherry Cobbler, Brandy Smash, Santa Cruz Punch, Eye-Opener, Stone-Fence, and an Earthquake. The pages are to the right.
Our general said, “We will take a whiskey straight.”
[A stare from the Frenchman.]
“Well, if you don't know what that is, give us a Champagne cock-tail.”
[A stare and a shrug.]
“Well, then, give us a sherry cobbler.” The Frenchman was checkmated. This was all Greek to him.
“Give us a brandy smash!” The Frenchman, suspicious of the ominous vigor of the last order, began to back away, shrugging his shoulders and spreading his hands apologetically. The General followed him up and gained a complete victory. The uneducated foreigner could not even furnish a Santa Cruz Punch, an Eye-Opener, a Stone-Fence, or an Earthquake. It was plain that he was a wicked impostor.
You can download an audiobook for free here .
1869 Miscellanies: The Book of Snobs, Sketches, and Travels in London, William Makepeace Thackeray
“. . . the young rakes and viveurs come swaggering in, and call loudly for Gin-Twist.”
1872 Narrative of a Voyage Round the World, Sir Edward Belcher
“And then Captain Bening made us a Champagne Cocktail. Half a tumbler of Champagne, a little brandy, a little bitters, a little sugar.”
1874 Cross Patch, Mother Goose
“Cross patch, draw the latch, sit by the fire and spin; Take a cup and drink it up, and call your neighbors in.” It is believed that drinking a cup refers to a bowl of alcoholic punch.
1920 This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
This book has the first known literary mention of the Daiquiri.
Read it on Google Books here.
1925 The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
“The notion originated with Daisy’s suggestion that we hire five bathrooms and take cold baths, and then assumed more tangible form as a place to have a mint julep.”
“Open the whiskey, Tom, and I'll make you a mint julep. Then you won't seem so stupid to yourself. . . . Look at the mint!”
“Tom came back, preceding four Gin Rickeys that clicked full of ice. Gatsby took up his drink."
1926 The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
George the barman serves Jake Barnes a Jack Rose at the Hotel Crillon in Paris.
1927 Hills Like Elephants, Ernest Hemingway
A line in the book reads, “Yes,” said the girl. “Everything tastes like licorice. Especially all the things you’ve waited so long for, like absinthe.”
1929 A High Wind in Jamaica, Richard Hughes
On page 77, the author mentions a drink called Hangman’s Blood that consists of porter ale, rum, gin, whisky, port, and brandy.
1930 The Glass Key, Dashiell Hammett
Ned Beaumont drinks a Manhattan.
1931 The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
Sam Spade drinks a Manhattan from a paper cup.
1933 Winner Take Nothing, Ernest Hemingway
Brandy, grappa, wine, and champagne are mentioned.
1934 Love’s Lovely Counterfeit, James M. Cain
Ben Grace makes Manhattans.
1934 The Postman Always Rings Twice, James M. Cain
Cora makes Bourbon & Cokes and Bourbon & Sodas.
1934 The Thin Man, Dashiell Hammett
Nick and Nora Charles drink several types of Martinis, including the Knickerbocker and Bronx.
1935 Trinity Town, Norman Collins
“‘What would you like—a Bronx or a Sidecar?’” A Sidecar, Vicky told him. She had never had a cocktail before.”
1939 Uncle Fred in the Springtime, P.G. Wodehouse
“Do we by any chance know of a beverage called May Queen? Its full name is
‘Tomorrow’ll be all the year the maddest, merriest day for I’m to be Queen of the May, mother, I’m to be Queen of the May.’ A clumsy title, generally shortened for purposes of ordinary conversation. Its foundation is any good, dry champagne, to which is added liqueur, brandy, Armagnac, kummel, yellow chartreuse, and old stout, to taste.”
1945 Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
Anthony Blanche orders four Alexandra Cocktails (Alexander Cocktail) all for himself.
1950 Across the River and into the Trees, Ernest Hemingway
Colonel Cantwell orders two very dry Martinis. Many Martinis are mentioned.
1950 The Second Seal, Dennis Wheatley
“There he went up to his room, sat on his bed for a while, then rang for the waiter and ordered a double Absinthe. When it arrived, he added sugar and water and slowly drank the opal fluid.”
1951 Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
Carl Luce orders a very dry Martini with no olive at the Wicker Bar in the swanky Seton Hotel. Holden Caulfield drinks Scotch & Sodas.
1953 Casino Royale, Ian Fleming
“A Dry Martini,” he said.
“One. In a deep champagne goblet.”
“Just a moment. Three measures of Gordons, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”
“Certainly, monsieur.” The barman seemed pleased with the idea.
1953 The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
Philip Marlowe and Terry Lennox drink Gimlets. Lennox says, “A real Gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice and nothing else. It beats Martinis hollow.”
1954 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Tennessee Williams
At Big Daddy's birthday, Brick drinks a Hot Toddy.
1958 Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote
A White Angel is made:
“Let me build you a drink. Something new. They call it a White Angel,” he said, mixing one-half vodka, one-half gin, no vermouth.
1958 Our Man in Havana, Graham Greene
The first sentence in the book reads, “Wormold enjoyed his rum cocktails frozen, with lime.”
1958 Playback, Raymond Chandler
Philip Marlowe orders a double Gibson.
1959 The Galton Case, Ross MacDonald
Lew Archer drinks Gibsons and Gin & Tonics.
1960 Rabbit, Run, John Updike
Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom resents the job he works just to earn a living to buy sugar for his wife to put into her rotten old Old-Fashioneds.
1962 A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
A cocktail invented by the author is called Moloko Plus.
1966 The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon
Mrs. Oedipa Maas mixes Whiskey Sours for her and her husband.
1971 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson
“We had actually been sitting there in the Polo Lounge—for many hours—drinking Singapore Slings with mescal on the side and beer chasers.”
1971 Love in the Ruins, Walker Percy
Dr. Thomas More describes the Gin Fizz as an egg-based cocktail that is silky and benign shortly before going into anaphylactic shock.
1973 Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut
Bonnie, a down-on-her-luck cocktail waitress, says “Breakfast of Champions” every time she serves a Martini.
Character Dwayne Hoover’s Martini of choice is the “House of Lords Martini” made with House of Lords and a twist of lemon peel.
1991 Harlot’s Ghost, Norman Mailer
A Martini called the Berlin Station Chief made with Scotch and gin is mentioned.
1993–2012 Honor Bound series, W. E. B. Griffin (William Edmund Butterworth III)
The Sazerac is well liked by OSS agent Cletus Frade in this World War II thriller series of eight books.
1995 Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman
“She goes to the kitchen and fixes a pitcher of margaritas. She takes the pitcher, along with two glasses dipped in coarse salt, out to the backyard and leaves it all beside the two lawn chairs set up near the little garden where the cucumbers are doing their best to grow.”
1997 Mason & Dixon, Thomas Pynchon
Cock Ale Punch is a popular drink at the Moon. It is actually made with a rooster.
2001 Right As Rain, George Pelecanos
Ray Boone makes a Whiskey & Coke, then stirs it with a dirty finger.
2003 The Second Glass of Absinthe, Michelle Black
The author talks about an absinthe hallucination.
2005–2013 Presidential Agent series, W. E. B. Griffin
There are references to the Sazerac in this series of books.
2007 Rebel Angels, Libba Bray
The character Gemma Doyle drinks absinthe with her friends at a Christmas Ball.
2011 The Pale King, David Foster Wallace
“Meredith Rand has two gin and tonics and is on her third, slightly more to drink than normal.”
2012 The Cocktail Waitress, James M. Cain
Cocktails mentioned include an Old-Fashioned, Martini, Manhattan, Gibson, Whiskey Sour, and Margarita.
2013 The Firebird, Susanna Kearsley
Vodka Martinis are mentioned.
2014 Girl’s Night Out, Kate Flora
A Cosmopolitan is on the cover of the book and a Cosmopolitan is mentioned in the book.
2014 Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
Cocktails mentioned are Mojitos and Gin Martinis.
2014 The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
A Martini is mentioned.
2015 Beat Slay Love, Katy Munger, Lise McClendon, Kate Flora, Gary Phillips, and Taffy Cannon
Chef Hannah Wendt makes a Berry Drop made with Grey Goose vodka, huckleberry syrup, lemon liqueur, and candied ginger.
chrisdorney / Shutterstock
This 1st Edition cover image is in the Public Domain.
This 1st Edition cover of The Thin Man complies with Wikipedia fair use laws.
This 1st Edition cover of Casino Royale complies with Wikipedia fair use laws. You can purchase one for $500 on Amazon.
Books About Cocktails in Literature
1998 The Hemingway Cookbook by Craig Boreth
2006 Hemingway & Bailey's Bartending Guide to Great American Writers by Mark Bailey
2013 Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle
2014 Hickory Daiquiri Dock: Cocktails with a Nursery Rhyme Twist by Tim Federle
2015 Shakespeare, Not Stirred: Cocktails for Your Everyday Dramas by Caroline Bicks
2015 To Have and Have Another Revised Edition: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion by Philip Greene
2017 The Tequila Mockingbird Kit: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle
2018 Are You There God? It's Me, Margarita: More Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle