It's been a glorious summer here in New York City. A stark contrast to the non-stop cold and snow that marked the winter of 2014, this has been a season for picnics in Central Park, strolls along the Hudson River, and that quintessential summer drink, the gin and tonic. So you can imagine my delight when I recently discovered a small volume dedicated to classic cocktails by a legendary consumer thereof, with the irresistible title "To Have and Have Another - a Hemingway Cocktail Companion" by Philip Greene.
So it is a natural fit for Philip Greene, who serves as a very sober Counsel for the U.S. Marine Corps during the day, to combine his passion for the history of libations with a recipe-filled biography of one of their biggest patrons. Let me be clear, the author is by no means advocating the kind of excessive consumption that bedeviled Ernest Hemingway. More accurately, this is a view of one of the greatest personalities of the early 20th Century as seen through a highball glass. Or a Martini glass. Or whatever glass he happened to be holding that contained the best, local and atmospheric cocktail of the moment.
Like, for instance, the "Jimmie Special" a concoction of French aperitifs and Cognac enjoyed by Hemingway when he first arrived in Paris in 1921 and was invited to Gertrude Stein's famous literary salon. Or the "Papa Doble / The Wild Daiquiri" created around 1947 when he was patronizing La Floridita Bar in Havana and rum was the drink of the island. Or the "Bloody Mary" invented at Harry's New York Bar in Paris circa 1921 and supposedly introduced by Hemingway to Hong Kong in 1941.
Not surprisingly, the Martini was a popular drink with Hemingway and his crowd and there is an entire chapter devoted to its history, recipes and variations, and the role it played in his writing - almost a character in itself.
Contrary to what you might be thinking right now, I am not a big hard liquor tippler, but I do have a fondness for an ice cold gin and tonic on a hot summer day. Sure enough, Mr. Greene has included a recipe for this classic as well as suggested reading material to accompany the drink! While I have not yet picked up Islands in the Stream ("Bimini", Chapter 3), I did experiment with the addition of Angostura bitters to the traditional mix and enjoyed the new flavor immensely. Indeed, I might have to have another just to make sure!! Cheers!