Mr. Hemingway’s Favorite Drink and Drinking

A MOVEABLE FEAST

A MOVEABLE FEAST

The End of Something

The End of Something

Ernest Hemingway is often apocryphally attributed with the phrase, “Write drunk, edit sober.”

No, his favorite drink was neither a mojito nor a bloody Mary but a dry, very cold Martini!

A whole book has been written about authors who drink called The Trip to Echo Springs by Olivia Laing. While we all joke about Hemingway “drank here” and that he drank everywhere, it is clearly a serious topic that has decimated the writing population or enhanced their creativity depending on your point of view. While I usually ask, “Why do writers drink so much,” someone once asked me “Why do drinkers write so much?”

Hemingway drank a lot but it didn’t start out that way.  He drank socially although significantly.  He did not drink while working.  On one occasion when asked by a journalist if he drank while writing his novels and short stories, he said,

Drinking and working with cat

“Jeezus Christ! Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You’re thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes – and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he’s had his first one. Besides, who in hell would mix more than one martini at a time?”

William Faulkner

William Faulkner

Hi favorite drink, contrary to some claims, was not the mojito, but a very dry martini, very very cold. He also, contrary to other claims, did not invent the Bloody Mary (the claim being that it was named after his fourth wife, Mary), during what was to be the equivalent of a period of drinking celibacy with the claim being that he used the tomato base to disguise the vodka. Good story but not true.

Drinking began early, probably at age 17 and then more drinking while in Italy during the war. Then, once he moved to Paris with Hadley, “the cafes, bars and bal musets became rallying points, look around the table and you might see the brightest minds of the Lost Generation—F. Scott Fitzgerald insanely drunk on champagne, Ezra Pound sipping absinthe, Gertrude Stein enjoying a fine red, James Joyce savoring scotch and Ford Maddox Ford sending back a brandy for the fourth time. They drank up liquor, they drank up life, they drank up each other.” Quote from Hooching with Hemingway by Frank Rich.

Scott Fitzgerald

Scott Fitzgerald

 

Scott and Zelda from Midnight in Paris

Scott and Zelda from Midnight in Paris

Hem was highly critical of Scott Fitzgerald’s drinking in their salad days, claiming it sapped Scott’s creativity, in addition to Zelda doing the same. He was annoyed by Fitzgerald’s alcoholism and occasionally criticized his writing in public. Hem and Zelda hated each other and there was never a détente in those feelings. Hem clearly did not see himself falling deeper into the alcoholic lifestyle as the years passed.

By the time Hem left Paris, his drinking habits had changed.  “Where before he’d been a classic binge drinker, he now kept a steady bottle-killing pace. The transition had taken place just months earlier, after Hadley had lost a trunk containing most of his early work, literally years of labor. Crushed, Hemingway turned to alcohol as a means of drowning his bitter rage—when the anger came, he would slip down to the cafe and drink brandy and carouse with friends until happiness seeped back in. Quote from Hooching with Hemingway by Frank Rich

 

Hem also had fun with it.  When Jigee Viertel revealed one evening that she had never had a drink of hard liquor, Hem was astounded. When she indicated a desire to try one, he suspended all that he was doing to consider whether Jigee— now in her mid-thirties— should end her tee totaling and if so, what the proper first drink was. Hem thought she should at least try a drink. He ran down options from a Bloody Mary, to a Manhattan to various gimlets. Finally he decided only a Scotch Sour would do.  Jigee broke into a smile at the first sip, and Hem said, “It’s a good omen.”  (A.E. Hotchner Papa Hemingway Page 60-61)

A Scotch sour and a breeze!

A Scotch sour and a breeze!

Hem brought his own booze to Spain or had it supplied; he kept it on his boat in great abundance.  While he went through periods of abstinence, it never lasted and it was his pacifier of choice.  My own reading leads me to think that initially, he became even more gregarious than he normally was when he drank. Once a certain point was passed, he perhaps became overly verbose and cantankerous.  There is that thin line between wonderful raconteur and domineering ego-maniac who keeps going to the point of becoming a boor and a bore.. I don’t know if that was so in Hem’s case but I think it happened in the later years.

Drunken people crossing

Drunken people crossing

 

Sadly, alcoholism did play its role in Hem’s demise and decline. It appears to have ravaged other relatives after him too. Sad to consider other works that Hemingway may have written absent depression and alcoholism.

 

The below site talks about Hem’s drinking and some specifics.  Interesting article. Check it out.

http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/10/30/7-things-you-didnt-know-about-ernest-hemingways-dr

http://austin.eater.com/archives/2013/04/10/modern-mixologist-tony-abouganim-on-hemingways-cocktails-brazilian-boozing-at-the-austin-food-wine-f.php

 

Hello Papaphiles!

 

Working at the Finca

Working at the Finca

HemHello!  Every three months, I post my opening post for those just joining in. For those who stop in regularly, I sincerely and truly thank you for reading and for being interested in Hemingway almost 54 years after his death and 116 years after his birth.  Best to all: Christine

 

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Ernest Hemingway

What Will Be Happening Here? 

This will be a place to talk Hemingway and any topics related to him and his life.  That gives us a lot of material: writing, Paris, divorce, relationships, Key West, Cuba, Idaho, fishing, boats, bulls, boxing, cats, horses, dogs, the Midwest, movies, other writers.  Anything else?  Oh right, drinking, awards, depression, friends, cruelty, generosity.  Heard enough? Well, there’s still politics, women, religion, Fidel Castro, Gary Cooper, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Africa. Done yet?  Uh, no. we’ve still got mothers, hair, sexual ambiguity, sons, daughters, actresses, sex, suicide, death, clothes, honor, hygiene, the IRS, psychiatrists.

And what would Papa say about a blog?  Hmm, well, if I wanted to pull a page from Woody Allen, I’d say that he’d say: No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure. He was a journalist first and foremost and he kept up with the times so I think he’d be amused.

Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen

Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen

So what qualifies me to write this blog?  Not too much that’s going to impress you. All I can say is that I love him, just as he was, flawed and fabulous, mean-spirited bully and most gracious of men, driven wordsmith and drunken raconteur, bigot and egalitarian, all of it.  I’m no scholar. I’ll leave that to Timeless Hemingway, www.timelesshemingway.com, which does a superb job and is an unparalleled resource. However, I’ve read them all many times: the books, the short stories, the analyses, the biographies, the women, even the Hemingway cookbook which I actually cook from (the trout is delicious). I’m just an obsessed fan, uncluttered by the need to be neutral.  I hope to learn from you too.

Finally, I find him fascinating, complex, and yes, manly but I think he actually “got” quite a bit about women contrary to popular myth. That’s a topic for another day. Also a topic for another day is why the mask above on the oh so lovely woman. Also a topic for another day is what do we call him in this blog?  Ernest, Ernesto, Wemedge, Nesto, Ernie, Oinbones,Papa, Tatie, Hem, Hemingstein, Hems, or just plain Hemingway? We’ll see. Perhaps we’ll put it to a vote. I have a Hemingway party on his birthday every year (July 21) and I’ll take a poll there too and let you know the results.

The Hemingway July birthday party in my barn

The Hemingway July birthday party in my barn

Of course, none of my friends “get” it and think Hemingway was that guy who wrote in short sentences and wanted to fight with everyone and run with the bulls.  They are partially right and mostly wrong.  But hey, you can’t throw away old friends just because they don’t really read or have an informed opinion about Hemingway–or can you?

These posts will be short and fun (I hope) and will be up every Friday by midnight. I hope it’s enjoyable for Hemingway people as well as for casual observers. I’ve looked at the other blogs about Hemingway. Most are terrific but there still is room for a lighter take and for the unending discussion about why we continue to read him fifty years after his death. And if you have to ask . . .

Check me out when you have a chance. It’s going to be one hell of a ride.

Hem, Hadley and Bumby

 

The Snows of Kilimanjaro

The Snows of Kilimanjaro

Me

Me

A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms

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The House on a Hill

written 100% in Cuba

written 100% in Cuba

The famous author lived on the island for 20 years. Now, efforts to preserve Hemingway’s house are proving a model for improved ties with the U.S.

Hemingway’s house is being restored to its former loveliness. Not as elegant as his Key West home, I think it suited him better. Visitors To his Cuban home still cannot go in but can peek through the windows.  The excitement of getting to view the places he wrote is catching and I hope to make Cuba my next trip.

Dining room in Cuba and drinking with cat

Dining room in Cuba and drinking with cat

 SI Senor. I love Cuba.

SI Senor. I love Cuba.

Hem's Dining room in Key West

Hem’s Dining room in Key West

Was Hemingway Bi-polar?

FROM THE moment Ernest Hemingway saw Finca Vigia ( Lookout Farm) outside Havana in 1939, it became his home in the deepest sense.

The above article discusses Hemingway’s time in Cuba, self-medication perhaps with alcohol, and his love for his Cuban home. Very interesting. Best, Christine

 

Hemingway: the early years in Oak Park

Hemingway's Summer Michigan places

Hemingway’s Summer Michigan places

the family

The family, Hem is tall in back

Young Hem fishing

Young Hem fishing

Hem as toddler

Hem as toddler, second from left.

Italy and home 161

I’m thinking of my friends who are going to Cuba next month and I’m not. I had planned a different vacation before i knew of their trip and could not do Cuba. SAD for me but happy for them.

Check out this interesting article on Hemingway’s early years.

The Oak Park Public Library will be able to offer unprecedented access to rare Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park and library archives thanks to a grant from the Illinois Secretary of State to digitize Illinois history. Due to a grant, documents that previously were unavailable to the public will be digitized and on view in Hemingway’s hometown. The exhibit focuses on Hemingway’s youth in Illinois.

The Final Line of a Novel: Its Power

My personal favorite among the famous closers is Ernest Hemingway’s “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” from The Sun Also Rises. This line not only aptly summarizes the themes of the novel but also stands as a wonderfully evocative statement on life in general — the beauty of our imagination is rarely matched by the ugliness of reality.

This article is interesting. While we often remember the first line of a favorite novel, this writer talks about the power of the last line, with his favorite being the last line of THE SUN ALSO RISES. Read other moving final lines.

The last line is the best

The last line is the best

On his own terms

On his own terms

The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises

Scott

Scott: he closes with a great final line to THE GREAT GATSBY

Some Hemingway Trivia for the Day

 

For this post, I present some trivia that people might not know about Hemingway.

  1. He often wrote standing up especially after the two plane crashes made long bouts of sitting uncomfortable.

    Hem writing standing

    Hem writing standing

 

  1. His father committed suicide. His first wife’s father committed suicide. Two of his siblings committed suicide. His former wife, Martha Gelhorn, committed suicide. His Italian muse, Adriana Ivancich, committed suicide. And, of course, Hemingway committed suicide in 1961.

 

Martha Gellhorn

Martha Gellhorn

  1. Contrary to popular myth, his favorite drink was not a Mojito, but a very dry, very cold Martini.

    To Hem

    To Hem

 

  1. He originally grew the beard to hide a recurrent skin condition and it became his signature look.

 

Hem writing

Hem writing with the beard

  1. He never went to college.

 

  1. He was actually shy when not drinking.

    Drinking and working with cat

    Drinking and working with cat

 

  1. He had an amazing wit and sense of humor, which is not evident in his novels. Read his letters.

 

  1. He had little interest in his sartorial presentation. He preferred loose slacks or shorts and wore them to rags.

sartorial

  1. His pets were part of his family and he worried about them tremendously when he was away from home. The death of a stray who became his constant companion, Black Dog, threw him into a severe depression. He never got over that death.

 

10. He always wanted a daughter. His fourth wife Mary became pregnant and a girl was expected, but it was an ectopic pregnancy and was lost. Hemingway had three sons—Jack, the oldest, with his first wife Hadley, and Gregory and Patrick with his second wife Pauline.

 

The Hemingway Writing App

Hem writing a letter maybe?

Hem finding the right word

Whether you compose presentations, speeches, online content, or just a lot of emails, this app can make a huge difference in the way you write.

This is pretty interesting. It’s an app for $ 6.99 that you apply to your writing and it tells you which sentences are too wordy; whether or not you need to eliminate some adverbs and find a more precise word; and the “readability” of your writing, such as is it readable on an 8th grade level or more likely on a college level. It’s aptly called the “Hemingway app.”.

When some drafts of a few of Hemingway’s stories were found scattered about his Cuban home, there were often notations on them saying such things as “this prose can be tightened,” or “find a better word here.”  He was his own best editor and toughest critic until Max Perkins got his hands on it, anyway. Anyway, this is fun to contemplate.

A Scotch sour and a breeze!

A Scotch sour and a breeze!

Don't even ask. My style is my own and I won't tell you how I do it

Don’t even ask. My style is my own and I won’t tell you how I do it

Frustration