Read & Drink Like A Genius
Lifestyle8 Minutes Read

Read & Drink Like A Genius

June 24, 2020 Share

In honour of International Audiobook Month – download the works that shaped modern literature, and mix the cocktails inspired by their authors…

It has been said that alcohol has inspired some of the greatest works of art over the course of history. From Rubens’ paintings straight through to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels, the presence of wine and spirits has been at the cornerstone of many of the major artistic movements in human history.

There have been no greater indulgent, however, than the lauded writers, novelists and journalists of the modern age. With modernity came cocktails, and with cocktails came a liberation of speech that exploded free-thinking written works onto the global consciousness. Writers became the unofficial ambassadors of modern drinking culture; embracing the drink whilst their readers devoured their literature. 

So far has the parallel been perpetuated that six of the four American Nobel laureates for Literature have been as famous for their works as they were for their heavy drinking habits (mainly; Steinbeck, Hemingway, O’Neill and Faulkner). Bad habits notwithstanding, we can credit the pantheon of modern and contemporary literary legends for popularising many of the cocktails we know and love today. 

In honour of international audiobook month, we take a deeper look at some of history’s literary greats – and their favourite tipple. After all, what’s better than reading a great book with a great cocktail? … listening to a great book and kicking back with a cocktail:


'Papa' Hemingway making G&T's in Spain
‘Papa’ Hemingway making G&T’s in Spain

No author has done more for cocktail culture than the ever-rebellious and passionate alcohol aficionado; Ernest Hemingway. He propped up bars across the world (Venice, Rome, London, Madrid, and Havana) whilst boxing, fighting in both the First World War and the Spanish Civil War, and writing in the Florida Keys. 

Hemingway is a barfly legend – his drink of choice was reportedly the Mojito which he grew to love at the iconic Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba, although he was known to drink what happened to be available (in fact some dissenting cocktail historians dispute that he ever ordered a Mojito). One thing is for certain – he drank bellinis at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Whisky in New York and G&T’s at the Museo Chicote in Madrid- all of which are documented in his works. 

Nevertheless, the Mojito has become synonymous with Hemingway over time – to toast the great man download his “Moveable Feast”, a fictional yet semi-autobiographical recount of his life in Paris as a struggling writer and make yourself a Mojito:

  • 10 fresh mint sprigs (the more the merrier)
  • 1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup (sugar and water mix)
  • 2 oz. white rum
  • 1 lime wedge + 1 mint sprig to garnish
  • Crushed Ice

Crush 10 mint leaves into the bottom of a chilled highball glass. Pour in lime juice, sugar+water mix, and (preferably white) rum. Fill your glass with crushed ice and garnish with a lime wedge.

Truman in Venice, presumably hydrating between cocktails
Truman in Venice, presumably hydrating between cocktails


The most famous bon-vivant in modern literary history, Truman Capote loved a good party and a good drink. Partial to whisky, his favourite being J&B Rare, he would travel with a bottle by his side at all times. As his fame grew with the hugely popular Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood novels he paired his love of drinks with big, lavish parties – the most infamous of which was the Black & White Ball, a gala that boasted luminaries such as Salvador Dali and Gloria Vanderbilt in attendance. 

Despite his love for J&B, drinking straight whisky was unfashionable at high society gatherings – so to keep up with his “Manhattan” friends, Capote would drink dry martinis or what he referred to as “his orange drink”; a large chilled vodka Screwdriver with two fresh orange slices. 

  • 1 cup Russian or Polish Vodka
  • 1 1/2 cups FRESH orange juice
  • 2 Orange slices
  • Cubbed ice

The secret to this simple drink is in its ingredients; make sure to use good Russian or Polish Vodka (ideally made from grain and not potato) and freshly squeezed orange juice. Put in a pitcher or container and gently stir. Once mixed, pour the combination over filtered-water ice cubes. Add the orange wedges in the mixture for effect.

Faulkner - Ever the elegant Southern gent
Faulkner – Ever the elegant Southern gent


Like many of his Southern compatriots, “the Bard of Mississippi”; William Faulkner, was a booze-hound. He loved drinking, and in particular, he loved whisky. So much so that he was once quoted as saying that “there’s no such thing as a bad whisky, some whiskies are just better than others.” His mantra was that “civilization begins at distillation”, and he encouraged drinking whenever possible.

A true Southern gentleman through and through, he loved a great Mint Julep, the ‘official’ drink of the South. Served in a silver or pewter cup (to keep the drink cold) this refreshing whisky cocktail is a staple in the southern states.

Pour yourself a generous one with this recipe and remember, Faulkner said “spilling liquor is like burning books”. Top it off with a listen to his Nobel-prize-winning novel “The Sound and the Fury‘. 

  • 10 sprigs of mint
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup (water + sugar mix)
  • 3 oz. Bourbon whisky

Crush 9 mint sprigs into the bottom of a chilled pewter cup or tumbler. Pour in your simple syrup mix and splash on a generous amount of Bourbon whisky. Fill the mixture in the cup with crushed ice -add the last sprig for garnish.

The acerbically brilliant Parker with her hound
The acerbically brilliant Parker with her hound


The American poet, screenwriter, critic, satirist and short story author Dorothy Parker is yet another famous lover of whisky. Her meteoric rise to prominence brought us classics such as the film A Star Is Born and elevated the now renowned cocktail; the Whisky Sour. 

Known for her acerbic wit, Parker is responsible for many well-known quips, such as this remark on drinking:

“I wish I could drink like a lady

I can take one or two at the most

Three and I’m under the table

Four and I’m under the host.”

To this day, her brilliance is lauded by poets and authors alike with many comparing her genius to that of Oscar Wilde’s (a poet she was a well-known fan of). Listen to her verses with a Whisky Sour, just the way she liked them:1.5oz Buorbon

  • 1.5 oz Bourbon whisky
  • .75oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • .75oz simple syrup (sugar + water mix)
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • Cubbed Ice

Pour the Bourbon, lemon juice and simple syrup mix into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain the mix and serve on the rocks into a lowball glass.

Dapper Fitzgerald
Dapper Fitzgerald


F. Scott Fitzgerald practically invented the modern novel whilst documenting the decadence of the Jazz age. Champagne and martinis ooze out of his prose, delivering pages filled with the parties, glamour, excitement and social change born of the 1920s.

He was the ultimate bon vivant, a lover of life, with an anachronistically low tolerance for alcohol – a fact that severely affected his ability to endure long nights of drinking with his more resilient buddy; Hemingway. Unlike his friend Ernest, Fitzgerald drank Gin Rickeys – being partial to the mix because the scent was largely undetectable on his breath.  

He drank in Paris, NYC, LA, Boston and the South of France – his rising celebrity bringing fame and fortune to the bars he visited. F. Scott’s masterpiece The Great Gatsby is the perfect book to listen to in the summer whilst slowly allowing yourself to be enveloped by Gin Rickeys…

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Club soda for a mix
  • Lime wedge
  • Cubbed ice

Pour the gin and fresh lime juice into a cold highball glass filled with ice cubes. Add club soda, and stir. Finish off with a lime wedge garnish.

Steinbeck writing provided a critical lens to the society around it
Steinbeck writing provided a critical lens to the society around it


John Steinbeck encapsulates modern American literature better than most of his contemporaries. A novelist with a flair for documenting the world around him, his narrative on US social inequalities and economic strife provided a humorous, if not wry, look on society. Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his most famous works, Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath and East of Edenall considered literary classics. 

The author often attributed his seemingly boundless muse to the indulgence in his favourite tipple, the Jack Rose cocktail: a heady combination of applejack, lime, and grenadine. He was famously quoted as saying that “you ain’t never outta drink water if it ain’t running”  – preferring his applejack libation instead.

Make your own:

2 oz. Applejack

1 oz. Freshly squeezed lemon (or lime) juice

0.5 oz Grenadine

Cubbed Ice

Add all ingredients to a chilled cocktail shaker, shake vigorously and strain into a chilled highball glass straight up.

Good-looking, sharp and with a wild heart - Kerouac charmed a generation
Good-looking, sharp and with a wild heart – Kerouac charmed a generation


Jack Kerouac’s name embodies youthful rebellion. In life, he took the stuffy literary world by storm – introducing a combination of barefoot elegance and Beatnick swagger to a whole new generation of readers. Confronting all expected norms, he broke out of polite society to cruise through the American countryside on a motorbike and write. 

His travels were famously raucous, fuelled by cocktails and drugs as he encountered fellow young people along the way also looking to break out of the mould. The way he lived his life, as well as his writing, garnered the admiration of artists and fans all over the world such as Bob Dylan. 

When it comes to the world of cocktails, he was also a revolutionary; popularising both Tequila and the Margarita in the US. It goes without saying that he changed the landscape of mixology forever…  celebrate this heritage with an ice-cold margarita and an audio copy of On the Road:  

  • 2 oz. Tequila
  • 1 oz. Triple Sec
  • 1 oz. Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • Cubbed Ice

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add all ingredients, shake vigorously and serve into a chilled lowball glass. Never a martini glass, and never with salt. Add a lime wedge for garnish.

We hope you will enjoy these concoctions somewhat responsibly… always remember Kerouac’s motto  –  “Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” Maybe you’ll be inspired to write the next Great American Novel…. We’ll be here waiting for our copy 

NEXT: The summer of the Drive-In is here…

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