Books and alcohol go hand in hand. Name an author: The chances that he or she was a brooding alcoholic are pretty high. Not only that, but alcohol is a prominent feature of many of your favorite literary masterpieces. While some authors merely feature liquor as a recurring character in their classics, others take it a step further by inventing crazy concoctions that sound intriguing on the page, but that you might want to think abut twice before actually trying. For the adventurous at heart (and stomach), here are 10 cocktails from some of our favorite books:
1. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess: Moloko Plus
This highball cocktail dreamed up by Burgess doesn’t feature many ingredients you’re likely to find at your local grocery store, but that leaves plenty of room for creativity. A Moloko Plus (i.e. “milk plus”) is consumed, along with hallucinogens, by characters in the book before the ultraviolence — you know, just your average night of beating up strangers, robbing stores and getting into a gang fight. (Makes you feel a little bit better about the last time you got wasted, doesn’t it?) There are several Moloko Plus recipe interpretations, but one tasty mix is as follows:
1 ounce absinthe
1 ounce anisette liqueur
2 ounce Irish cream liqueur
1 tablespoon sugar
5 ounce milk
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, and strain into a tall glass before serving.
2. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut: End of the World Delight
A bartender in Vonnegut’s work invents this drink on the day of the Hiroshima bombing and delivers it with the words, “Don’t ever say I never did anything for you.” It might not be the most uplifting drink to feature at a party, but it would sure look festive.
1/2 pint of creme de menthe
1 hollow pineapple
Pour creme de menthe into hollow pineapple. Top with whipped cream and cherry.
3. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger: Scotch and Soda
There are a lot of things we’ve learned from Holden Caulfield: adults suck, Hollywood is full of shit, and girls are complicated. The only way to get through it is, of course, alcohol — which leads us to possibly the most important lesson of all: When you’re ordering drinks, don’t be a wuss. In order to get though his hangout with “phony” friend Carl Luce, Holden
downs several scotch and sodas, which he orders standing up to prove to the bartender that he isn’t some “goddamn minor.”
1 ½ ounces scotch
4 or 5 ounces club soda
Serve over ice.
4. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck: Beer Milkshake
“If a man orders a beer milkshake ... he’d better do it in a town where he wasn’t known,” laments Doc in Steinbeck’s novel, spending years lusting for the drink. When he finally does get up the nerve to order a beer milkshake, Doc justifies it by telling the waitress that the shake is meant to aid a bladder problem called “bipalychaetorsonechtomy.” The beer milkshake that Doc asks for, though, isn’t quite like the Irish Beer Shake you’ll find at Red Robin; it’s just plain milk and, as Doc happily declares, “stale beer.”
1/2 bottle of beer
1 cup milk
Combine and serve.
5. “The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy” by P. G. Wodehouse: Green Swizzler
It’s pretty much impossible to make it as a writer without dabbling in alcoholism, but Wodehouse took the relationship between literature and alcohol to a new level when he created the six classifications of hangovers: the Broken Compass, the Sewing Machine, the Comet, the Atomic, the Cement Mixer and the Gremlin Boogie. In his short story “The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy,” character Bertie Wooster is served a drink called the Green Swizzler and declares it so good that he says, “If ever I marry and have a son, Green Swizzle Wooster is the name that will go down in the register.” Wodehouse doesn’t include a recipe in the story, but the work has inspired several Green Swizzler creations, one of which is as follows:
3 ounces white rum
1 teaspoon green creme de menthe
¾ ounce lime juice
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake ingredients with ice, then strain into a glass ¾ full of finely crushed ice. Garnish with sprig of mint.
6. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh: Brandy Alexander
One Brandy Alexander is enough to get you to register as at least a Broken Compass on Wodehouse’s hangover scale, but in Waugh’s novel, Anthony drinks four, one right after the other. “One, two, three, four, down the red lane they go,” he says cheerfully, “How the students stare.” Professors, take heed: This might be the way to get your students to respect you enough to finally stop texting during your lecture.
1 ounce brandy
1 ounce dark creme de cacao
1 ounce cream
Shake ingredients with ice cubes and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprinkle of ground nutmeg.
7. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler: The Real Gimlet
Chandler might not be the writer it’s wisest to take drinking tips from; after all, he famously managed to write the ending to the script for The Blue Dahlia by spending eight days constantly drinking and consuming no solid food (a doctor came by twice a day to deliver glucose shots). It’s no surprise, then, that he favors a harder version of the gimlet, described in his novel by Terry Lennox as “the real gimlet” that “beats martinis hollow.”
1 ounce gin
1 ounce Rose’s lime juice
Stir well in a mixing glass with ice cubes, then pour into a chilled cocktail glass and serve.
8. The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling: Butterbeer
Butterbeer is not a new phenomenon, but with the latest Ron and Hermione drama, you might find yourself needing to down a glass or two that’s slightly more alcoholic than the kid-friendly version in the series. If you’re one of the Potter fans mourning Rowling’s shocking revelation, you should probably whip up a couple glasses of this and drink yourself so silly you can’t tell the difference between Bertie Bott’s earwax and banana cream pie jelly beans while sobbing about what could have been. Everyone from Starbucks to Food Network has their own butterbeer recipe, but one of the few that’s alcoholic is as follows:
½ stick unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon divided
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 ½ cups heavy cream
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated ginger
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
½ tablespoon light brown sugar
1 ounce dark rum
⅕ cup ginger beer
Melt half a stick of butter over medium heat. Whisk in the dark brown sugar, half a cup of heavy cream and sea salt. Boil for about five minutes, continuing to whisk. Remove from heat when the mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon and stir in vanilla extract. Beat one cup of cream until it’s frothy. Melt the remaining butter over medium-low heat. Add ginger, nutmeg and light brown sugar, and stir. When mixture begins to bubble, add rum and stir. Let sit about a minute. Add the ginger beer, lower the flame, and heat three to four minutes. Add a spoonful of butterscotch to the bottom of two glasses, add the butterbeer, and top with whipped cream.
9. On the Road by Jack Kerouac: Wine Spodiodi
Kerouac was no stranger to the allure of alcohol; regretfully, the author died of drinking when he was just 47 years old. Kerouac’s works, with On the Road in particular, are filled with scenes of imbibing and lines like “Ah, it was a fine night, a warm night, a wine-drinking night, a moony night, and a night to hug your girl and talk and spit and be heavengoing” that sort of make you wish you were on a road trip with only $50 in your pocket, too. When Kerouac describes the wine spodiodi that Dean and Sal drink at a bar in San Francisco, though, it might make you glad you can shell out at least enough money for the second-cheapest bottle of wine at the liquor store.
2 shots port wine
1 shot whiskey
Combine and serve.
10. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway: Jack Rose
At the end of his novel, Hemingway finishes things in the only really appropriate way: with alcohol. “No matter how vulgar a hotel is, the bar is always nice,” Jake declares before he and Brett down their martinis (Jake finishing three before lunch). The two famously say “Bung-o” before drinking, giving readers a literary toast we can finally be proud of.
2 ½ ounces gin
½ ounce dry vermouth
Olive and lemon twist for garnish
Stir alcohol in a mixing glass with ice, pour into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish before serving.
Do these drinks inspire or repulse you? Have you tried any of these cocktails yourself and lived to tell the tale? Does your favorite literary character have a signature drink that we haven’t featured here? Let us know all about it in the comments below!
Adina Applebaum is a Michigan native studying English and creative writing at Barnard College. Her crowning achievements in life are memorizing the entirety of lyrics on The Slim Shady LP and eating a gallon of chocolate-covered raisins during orientation week of college.
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