Hemingway Cocktails

In preparation for a trip next month to Key West, I am familiarizing myself with Ernest Hemingway. I bought 4 of his books I will try to read before then. Plus I have been exploring the kindle book To Have And Another by Philip Greene. It is the story of various cocktails associated with him. It is a fascinating book, and I decided I would start trying some of the recipes.  I am choosing the ones associated with his times in Florida and Cuba. I am making one per day when I am not working through the month of January. It is research for my trip.

Cayo Hueso La Floridita:

Cayo Hueso was the original name for Key West and means island of bones. The recipe for this drink is from Betty Bruce, a friend of Hemingway there. It is really simple and tasty. It seems like it might be a great drink for our trip

A Farewell to Hemingway:

This is a Hemingway drink that he created in 1937 in Coconut Grove. He loved kirschwasser ( cherry brandy). Tom was able to find me some at the local liquor store in Sedro Woolley.

I am surprised he liked pink cocktails. But I am really liking the fact that there is very little sugar and fresh juice in them. This is another tasty one., especially if you like cherries ( as I do).

E. Henmiway Special:

The origins of the Daiquiri are varied but Hemingway was there when it was perfected by Constantino Ribalaigua at his Havana’s La Florida Bar AKA the Floridita. In 1937 this version was named after him but misspelled.

We could not find maraschino liqueur so used Luxardo cherry syrup instead. I used fresh grapefruit juice as there was a special on a bag of them at our local Red Apple Market. Again a strong, not sweet, pink cocktail.

Papa Doble:

This was the result of a 10 year evolution of the above drink and popular with tourists. It is the same ingredients in different quantities. For the tourists it was blended with shaved ice.

I do like it better. I like the increased grapefruit flavor. So this might be a drink to have in Key West.

Gin and Coconut Water:

Apparently Hemingway made this drink by boring a hole in a fresh coconut and pouring in 6-8 ounces of gin. For me the recipe of 2 ounces of gin to 4 ounces of fresh coconut milk was perfect.

I loved this drink. It is simple and yummy. I am really hoping to find fresh coconuts on Key West.

Death in the Gulf Stream:

Tom could not find Bols genever so I used London gin. My ice crusher is on top of a mountain in central Washington so I used our blender.

Here it is. I am not a huge fan. I thought it was boring.

Death in the Afternoon:

I made this correctly this tome with Champagne.

I love the opalescent milkiness. One shot of absinthe really wastes you though. I cannot imagine drinking five like Hemingway is reported to have done.

The Ideal Cocktail:

This is one of the drinks that Hemingway enjoyed at the Floridita in Havana. It turns out I had Luxardo maraschino liqueur the whole time. Apparently my bar is not well organized

This is tasty but I think I like Papa Doble better. Plus this is a very small cocktail. Almost not worth the effort


Not a cocktail at all but an unusual way to drink. This is from Pan Am executive Grant Mason outside of Havana. It mostly involves swallowing a mouthful of Cognac and inhaling quickly at the same time. It is supposed to get the alcohol into your blood stream quicker.

I only noticed that it made my lips numb and later made me feel like I was in a scary dream. Maybe the best cognac Sedro-Woolley has to offer is not good enough. Nonetheless I will not be doing this again.

Josie Russell:

This was the nickname for the owner of Sloppy Joe’s. It is from a day they were fishing in June 1833. Hemingway invented it and wrote the recipe in Russell’s boat’s logbook.

I used my husband’s homemade cider and skipped the sugar. It is a strong drink. It is like a tropical cider so fine with me.

Vermouth Panache’

I made this while watching New Orleans in the playoffs. This recipe is in Famous New Orleans Drinks & How to Mix ‘Em

Here is the drink. It was good. But did not help the Saints win.

Rum Swizzle:

I do not have a proper swizzle so used a honey drizzle stick instead.

I was not going to add the sugar but changed my mind. It is tasty but now I need a true swizzle stick made from a branch.


it is controversial if Hemingway liked or even drank Mojitos. But the recipe was included in the book with the discussion about the controversy.

But I like Mojitos. This one is less minty and limey than my usual ones. And I had to buy fresh mint which galls me. But I got to sip on this drink while reading TheOld Man and the Sea So that was great and worth it.

Gregorio’s Rx:

This one was a problem in that it is hard to muddle honey and also to mix it In icy liquid.

It tasted OK and I mixed up a second one with muddling only the mint and adding the rum and lemon juice to the honey before the ice. Much better. Here is the first one.

Green Isaac’s Special:

This one initially reminded me of the lime in the coconut song. But it is not that interesting.

It used up more than a coconut’s water and was kind of boring. The previous coconut drinks were better.

Cuba Libre:

I was supposed to use sugar rather than fructose Coca-Cola but did not find it but did use Bacardi. Cuba in 1900 was trying to get free of American occupation when this drink was invented.

I did shout “pot Cuba libre” when I started my drink. It was actually pretty boring which was a disappointment.

Tom Collins À La Hemingway:

This version of the drink is from Islands in the Stream in Cuba. We are buying and drilling coconuts like crazy for these drinks. Plus I am trying to find good recipes for fresh coconut meat.

These drinks are starting to taste the same. I still like gin and coconut water (more so then rum with it). But now I am out of gin. This is the last coconut recipe though for which I am glad.

Physician, Heal Thyself:

With this name, I had to try this cocktail. It was from Hemingway’s latter years when he was in poor health. His physician restricted him to 1 liter of wine and 1 cocktail per day. This recipe was found in his medical file from 1958. The author is unsure why it would be in his medical file with a sketch of it but maybe he was trying to impress his doctor with how he was trying to cut back on his hard liquor.

Anyway it tasted good, like Sherry. Of course I used the wrong kind. But I do keep sherry around the house for recipes’s night. So this is a way to make sherry a little more refreshing.

Whiskey & Soda:

This is a classic highball made with one of Hemingway’s favorite Scotch whiskys.

I decided it needed a wedge of lemon. Otherwise it was good and I enjoyed it in the wood-fired hot tub.

Whiskey & Ginger Ale:

This is easy to make but kind of boring. The line helps.

It is in his book Islands in the Stream about a man and his cat Boise in Cuba. Hemingway had a favorite cat with the same name in Cuba but apparently did not have any cats in Key West.

White Lady:

This was fun to make, shaking one of our egg whites with alcohol and ice.

It is a little sweet and fruffy but fun. Not really like Hemingway’s other drinks.

Rum Collins:

This is easy to make as well but quite tasty and refreshing. I used 1/2 teaspoon on sugar though.

This recipe is in Sloppy Joe’s 1939 cocktail manual.

Gin & Tonic:

This is easy but surprisingly tasty. I have never had gin before and so this has been an education.

The bitters really make this drink. The drink is featured in several of his novels so likely was a favorite.

Irish Whiskey Sour:

This is a basic whiskey sour with lime instead of lemon. I used Scotch whisky instead of Irish whiskey which is an abomination but all I head. I also used honey water instead of simple syrup. I really love this drink.

Hemingway, of course, did not use any sugar. It was featured in Islands in the Stream.

Mountain Stream Scotch:

This is easy peasy to make but you have to wait one hour. It is good but not amazing. By the way I love this shot glass.

Here it is. Hemingway loved his drinks cold and presented this recipe to his friend in Key a West in 1955. His martini recipe is insanely cold. I am going to have to wait to make it though since I could not find the right vermouth locally in time.

El Definitivo:

I saved this one for last. It seems like it is an alcoholic’s drink with 5 different liquors. Despite all of the ingredients it was pretty boring

Hemingway created this drink in Havana in 1942. It was supposed to be a trick drink intended to inebriate the competing baseball team. But the report is Hemingway’s team succumbed as well most of the time.

So it is the end of my month of Hemingway drinks. I did not make two of the island/Florida drinks because I could not find the ingredients. These were the Ojen Special because there is no Ojen here and his Martini because I could not find Noilly Prat Vermouth in time. But this was fun. I felt a little tropical in the cold dark north and I feel like I understand Hemingway a little better.

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5 Responses to Hemingway Cocktails

  1. Wow, you are officially my hero 😂. Excellent research! I love a good gin and tonic with bitters. Have you watched the film Midnight in Paris?

  2. Denise says:

    that’s quite a run of cocktails- I’m surprised you were able to find enough fresh coconuts locally! your comments on the Carburetion made me chuckle. 🙂

    • Donna says:

      We found some at Haggens. But then I had to figure out what to do with the meat. I spent a lot of energy on a couple of recipes that were not that good.

  3. Pingback: Downton Abbey Cocktails | Schoonover Farm Blog

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