Ernest Hemingway famously advised ink-stained wretches to write drunk and edit sober. Well, here’s an addendum for all those embroideries: make sure that you book-club plastered. Literature and alcohol go together like, well, Hemingway and a good daiquiri. From Mr. Pickwick’s punch—fruit juice, lemons, and rum—to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s well-documented affinity for gin, there’s a drink for every literary occasion. The next time your book club endeavors to navigate The Sound and the Fury, make sure to raise a mint julep to William Faulkner and his very own recipe: whiskey, 1 tsp sugar, ice, and mint served in a metal cup.
Books out and bottoms up!
Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster
It’s hard to top a drink referred to as “the best drink in existence,” so let’s start with the concoction described in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster. Upon imbibing the Gargle Blaster, invented by Zaphod Beeblebrox, the drinker is overcome with a feeling akin to “having your brains smashed out with a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick.”
That sounds a whole lot like a strong Long Island Iced Tea, if you ask me. And an LIT is a lot easier to make than scouring the universe for Ol’ Janx Spirit, water from the seas of Santraginus, and four liters of Fallian marsh gas. Probably.
½ oz triple sec
½ oz rum of your choice
½ oz gin you have left over in the cabinet
½ oz potent, potent vodka
½ oz tequila
Splash of soda, pop, or cola of your choice, depending on your regional dialect
Pour the above ingredients (or empty whichever half-used bottles you can find) into your glass. Stir the volatile mixture. Garnish with lemon and a tooth of an Algolian Suntiger.
Pip, pip, cheerio! It’s off to merry ol’ Dickensian England we go. Most people remember Ebenezer Scrooge’s rush-order poultry at the end of a A Christmas Carol, but everyone’s bristly miser also pays lip service to a certain boozy treat. As he repents to Bob Cratchit:
“A Merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavor to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon over a bowl of Smoking Bishop, Bob!”
It’s so rare these days to be treated by your employer to a desk with a window view, let alone a bowl of the coolest-sounding libation this side of a Hot Vatican Toddy. Yes, a Smoking Bishop is a hot mulled wine, and it’s just one of a bevy of so-called clerical drinks: Pope uses burgundy, Cardinal uses champagne or rye, Archbishop uses claret, and Bishop uses port. There are a few recipes for a Smoking Bishop, but below is one offered by Dickens’ great-grandson in Drinking With Dickens. (Feel free to improvise, and do plan ahead.)
6 Seville oranges
¼ lb. sugar
1 bottle Portuguese red wine
1 bottle port
Bake the oranges in the oven until they are pale brown.
Prick each of the oranges with five whole cloves. Add the sugar and pour in the red wine. Leave the mixture, covered, in a warm setting for 24 hours.
Remove the oranges, cut them in half, and squeeze the juice back into the wine.
Pour your concoction through a sieve into a saucepan or other appropriate vessel, add the port, and heat without boiling.
Enjoy immense good cheer.
Agent 007 likes his women plentiful, his cars expensive, and his martinis shaken, not stirred. When embroiled in the rollicking espionage of Casino Royale, it wouldn’t do to fill your glass with anything but a Vesper martini. As Bond, James Bond, says to the saucy minx who is its namesake: “Once you have tasted it, you won’t drink anything else.”
Like everything else Bondian, the drink recipe is described in detail by Ian Fleming, but if you can’t get your mitts on British gins and French aperitif wines, substitute your own liquors of choice.
3 parts Gordon’s gin
1 part vodka
½ part Lillet (or any dry vermouth)
Shake well, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin slice of lemon peel.
You don’t need sickles or a seat at the Three Broomsticks to find something to numb the pain of the Grim Reaper Rowling’s wizarding series. A foaming tankard of butterbeer will take the chill off and warm the cockles of your heart, which were broken by Alan Rickman’s lack of an Oscar nomination. I mean, C’MON.
There exist about as many butterbeer recipes as there are muggles to try them. Below is Tablespoon’s, which straddles the line of simple yet flavorful. (Note: Keep away from house elves.)
1 cup light or dark brown sugar
2 tbsp water
6 tbsp butter
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cider vinegar
¾ cup heavy cream, divided
½ tsp rum extract
4 ½ oz bottles cream soda
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture reads 240 Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer.
Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and ¼ cup of the heavy cream. Set aside to cool.
Once cooled, stir in the rum extract.
In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining heavy cream. Beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, or about 2 to 3 minutes.
Divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses. Add ¼ cup of cream soda to each glass and then stir. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping onto each.
Bonus: on the off chance you need a little more booze to get through your book club, I recommend Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist—particularly its recipes for an Are You There, God? It’s Me Margarita and the Gin Eyre.
What’s your favorite literary libation?