Literary Libations

by Richelle Kimble

Inspire yourself while sipping on the same libations as some of the greatest literary geniuses in history. Kick back with a classic book and enjoy one of the “intelligent” liquid offerings below. (In moderation, of course!)


Edna St. Vincent Millay

Rumor has it that this lyrical poet’s drink, which is essentially the Sidecar’s cousin, was named after a late night of drinking and writing with Edmund Wilson and poet John Peale Bishop. She asked the two men to hold her in their arms, and the seductive title of Between the Sheets was created. With such boldness, it’s easy to see why this feminist was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923.


3/4 ounce brandy
3/4 ounce triple sec
3/4 ounce rum
1/2 ounce lemon juice

Shake ingredients with ice in cocktail shaker and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.


Dorothy Parker

Known for her love of gin and men, Parker is one of the most renown women in poetry and screenplays. Though she favored a variety of libations, her sharp wit matches her Dear Little Whiskey Sour drink: sweet tendencies, but known to bite. Her success flourished despite her fondness for cocktails, as two of her scripts were nominated for Academy Awards, and her wisecracker reputation has no one wondering why she kept sipping on her preferred potion.


1   ounce lemon juice
1   ounce simple syrup
2   ounces bourbon

Shake ingredients with ice in cocktail shaker and strain into a short whiskey glass with ice. Garnish with a cherry or lemon wedge.


Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway wasn’t one to keep his identity quiet, and as a result, his “green fairy” concoction with Champagne became as popular as his book it’s named after, Death in the Afternoon. Absinthe is thought to induce hallucinations; perhaps that’s where he gets his idiosyncratic spark. Hemingway even delivered preparation instructions for his cocktail: “Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”


1 1/2 ounces absinthe
4 1/2 ounces Champagne

Pour absinthe into a flute and top with Champagne.


F. Scott Fitzgerald

The twenties might not have been nearly as roaring if Fitzgerald would’ve been without his gin. This author and his wife, Zelda, pranced around drunk on Gin Rickneys, and Francis Scott even gave his characters the attribute of enjoying the drink (think Jay Gatsby). Proud of their symbolism and determined to live up to their hype, it was no secret that the couple had little tolerance for alcohol. They claimed that gin was their favorite because it wasn’t detectable on the breath.


2 ounces dry gin
1 1/2 ounce lime juice
Club soda

Squeeze lime juice into a Collins glass full of ice. Add gin, add lime half, and top with bubbly water of your choice.

“Just something light and easy to fix. How about a dear little whiskey sour?”

-Dorothy Parker in answer to what she’d like for breakfast.


Carson Mccullers

This southern gothic writer most known for The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and The Member of the Wedding kept her drinking discrete to those who didn’t know. A mixture of hot tea and sherry, McCullers would keep her concoction, called the Sonnie Boy, in a thermos, often claiming it was only tea to enable her workday to be properly fueled.


1/3 cup dry sherry
2/3 cup citrus tea

Brew tea and add sherry. Stir and serve with a lemon (or pour into your trusty thermos!).


Edgar Allan Poe

The legendary writer, editor and poet of the American Romantic Movement allegedly spiked his drinks with opiates, and as history knows, cognac was his libation of choice. His alcoholic personality unfortunately sent him to an early death at the age of 40, but it also undoubtedly contributed to his production of important literary works. We recommend sipping this brandy neat,
sans opiates.


Drink 3 ounces cognac neat, as water or ice will dilute the spirit too much. Serve at room temperature in a snifter.


Jack Kerouac

Somewhere on the road, Kerouac developed a love for Tequila. Likely while he was fleeing in Mexico, lounging at jazz bars or jumping the streets of New York City, the classic Margarita became a favorite of his. Kerouac kept his life lively, wild and sometimes unruly, but somehow managed to keep his reputation sophisticated (just like all the classic beat generation pioneers).


2 ounces Reposado or Silver Tequila
1 ounce agave nectar
1 ounce lime juice
Shake ingredients with ice in cocktail shaker and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with fresh cut lime.


Maya Angelou

The famous author, poet, dancer, actress, singer and civil rights activist is known for her kindness, wisdom and societal impact. Her success seemed to overshadow her fascination with fortified wine, as no one quite identifies Angeleou as a drinker; however, she once described her writing process as a product of six items: the Bible, a dictionary, Roget’s Thesaurus, yellow notepads, an ashtray and a bottle of sherry. Who knew sherry could be so inspiring?


Serve room-temperature sherry in a long-stemmed copita glass (to prevent warming).

“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

­-Ernest Hemingway


When she’s not editing for WLM and spending time with her fellow staff members, Richelle enjoys exploring, traveling, writing, reading, cooking, learning and playing. Follow her for adventure inspiration: @thekleerlife



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