’Tis a strange serpent – Drinking in Literature

Drinking in literature.

From Viking magical mead poetry to Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall, here’s how writers have encapsulated an eternal boozy truth

Source: ’Tis a strange serpent – 10 of the most entertaining drinking bouts in literature | Books | The Guardian

I’ve written a few drunk scenes — pretty much any action in Quantum Deadline is preceded by a bout of booze. For that matter, I’ve written while drunk and might have even accidentally written literature once or twice but the combo of these efforts is weak sauce next to the depictions of drinking in literature by my forebears. Some intoxicating examples are included  in this brilliant sampling culled from A Short History of Drunkenness in the Guardian. My favorite from this lot is Byron’s:

Like other parties of the kind, it was first silent, then talky, then argumentative, then disputatious, then unintelligible, then altogethery, then inarticulate, and then drunk.

First off, why aren’t we using the term “altogethery?” And, second — damn, do I miss the kind of writerly roundtables Byron recounts. I seem to recall that some days at Aram’s Cafe in Petaluma were downright Algonquin but I might be looking back with rosé-tinted glasses in lieu of hindsight. Regardless, I’ve been daydreaming about ginning up my own private press club to be fueled by booze, banter and bylines.  Who’s in?

I admit this is a bit sentimental for my usual temperament. As I’ve written before, I’m more of a lone wolf hip to hang in a lone wolf pack and vacillate between being the alpha and omega dog. But people can change, right? Especially if there’s alcohol involved. And drinking and literature is almost as good as drinking in literature, which is the logical next step. If anyone can remember anything worth recounting. As Byron summed at end of one of epic evenings:

I carried away much wine, and the wine had previously carried away my memory; so that all was hiccup and happiness for the last hour or so, and I am not impregnated with any of the conversation.

Cheers to that, mate.

5 St. Patrick’s Day Myths Debunked

Irish T-shirt LassMarch 17 marks the one day of the year when those of Irish blood can revel in their negative cultural stereotypes and not necessarily affirm them. Speaking as someone of Irish descent, I can say without risk of racism, that the (pink) elephant in the room is that we’re all raging alcoholics. But on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone looks like a raging alcoholic, so we simply blend in. Then we rule the night – for in the land of the blind drunk, the Irishman is king. As the proverb goes, “An Irishman is never drunk as long as he can hold onto one blade of grass and not fall off the face of the earth.”
I admit my observations may put the ire in Ireland but then my people seldom seek self-reflection beyond what may be viewed at the bottom of a pint glass. Which amounts to a pair of nostrils and weepy eyes. Given the view, most conclude that they must be smiling. I know I am. It’s with great pride and amusement that I recall my first meeting of Irish Anonymous, when I stood up before my “McBrethren” and announced “I’m Daedalus Howell and I am an Irish-American” without even falling over.

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Writers with Drinks Named After Them

Writers with Drinks Named After Them

Besides a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, those in the entertainment business are often honored with the dubious (or delicious) distinction of having a deli sandwich named after them. In the writing game – it’s a drink.

The reasons for this are manifold. There’s writers’ alleged propensity for alcoholism, of course, as well as the fact that most can only afford the liquid part of their lunch. In the rarefied world of delicatessens, sandwiches are the province of movie stars. And why wouldn’t they be? Both are in the business of hams and cheese.

So be it. Let move stars have their “glamwiches;” writers need stronger fare. I used to drink “pintos” at the girl and the fig, which was my coy term for a half-pint of beer. That is, until a Brazilian friend told me “pinto” was Portuguese slang for (insert term for male anatomy here) and berated the size of my glass. So, I switched to wine – magnums of it. Did I say, magnums? I meant jeroboams, Nebuchadnezzars. Anyway, after hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars spent, I have yet to get a proper drink named after me. Perhaps I need to die first. Of liver failure.

A fate worse than being a writer without a drink named for me would be sharing my byline with a non-alcoholic drink. For some, being in the company of cowboy crooner Roy Rogers, Shirley Temple and Arnold Palmer wouldn’t be so bad. To me it sounds simultaneously like the drinks menu and guest list at a cocktail party hosted in Hell. The menfolk would sip their dandy drinks whilst tossing horseshoes in a sand trap and that curly-headed kid would be tap-dancing all over the place on a grenadine-fueled sugar rush.

Some writers, however, win the drink-name-game. Kind of. Consider novelist Graham Greene who has his eponymous martini, the “Graham Greene.” It’s a variation on the traditional gin and dry vermouth with a dash of crème de cassis. Albeit, this concoction will likely raise an eyebrow when ordered anywhere but Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, where it will just as likely raise a glass to the author, who was a foreign correspondent in 1950s-era Vietnam (wherefrom his inspiration for “The Quiet American”). San Francisco Chronicle confederate Gary Regan tried to recreate a version of Greene’s namesake drink and was “sorely disappointed.”

San Francisco’s historic Northbeach hangout, Vesuvio, apparently serves a “Jack Keroauc,” which strikes me less as an homage to the erstwhile Beat writer than a cynical means of extracting cash from naive 20-somethings who crave “authentic” experiences to fail at writing about. The drink is comprised of rum, tequila and orange juice over ice, though I personally think they should throw in a Benzedrine inhaler. In fact, they should do away with the drink entirely and just serve the inhaler with a typewriter and Teletype roll so the kids can get all “Kerowhacky” before getting busted on narcotics charges.

This brings us to the so-called Hemingway Cocktail, which, according to TV chef Michael Chiarello, contains ruby red grapefruit, four additional grapefruit slices, sugar, vodka and simple syrup. First you juice the grapefruit into four glasses. Then you top each with a half ounce of vodka, followed by the simple syrup (to taste) and garnished with a grapefuit wedge that has been dipped in sugar. Then, I presume, you throwback all four resulting drinks and start rummaging your cabana for a shotgun. I mean GLASS – a shot glass – into which you pour a moderately priced rye whisky to wash away the taste of the four preceding cocktails and memories of Brett Ashley.

I’ll leave it to you, dear readers, to suggest a recipe for the Daedalian Howl. I will try them all, naturally.