It’s the dawn of a new year, and to celebrate we’re showing our appreciation for the booze in books that literature’s most famous sipped between pages. Fictional drinks and classic cocktails all make appearances with several being the catalyst for memorable narratives and others symbolizing intense character relationships. See what literary libations sparked drama, memories, and everything in between.
The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
“A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow,’ states Terry Lennox in Raymond Chandler’s 1953 novel, The Long Goodbye. The gimlet symbolizes a bond between characters in the hard-boiled tale — first between liquor-loving detective Philip Marlowe and charming drunk Lennox, and later Marlowe and lover Linda Loring.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Mysterious millionaires, decadent parties, and romantic flings abound in Fitzgerald’s book that takes place “among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” The mint julep makes its most notable appearance when things come to a head for the story’s love triangle (Daisy Buchanan, husband Tom Buchanan, and Gatsby). “I’ll make you a mint julep,” Daisy tells Tom. “Then you won’t seem so stupid to yourself.”
Inherent Vice, Thomas Pynchon
One of Inherent Vice’s biggest vices is the Tequila Zombie, which pothead P.I. Larry “Doc” Sportello discovers when a waitress recommends drinking the Zombie in order to get “good and fucked up” by the time the food arrives.
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
Part port, part whiskey, the thrifty Wine Spodiodi makes an appearance in Jack Kerouac’s 1957 beat novel when Sal and Dean meet a kindred spirit. The Spodiodi lover tells them all the sweet wine masks the cheap whiskey.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
A third arm is required to enjoy the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster that Zaphod Beeblebrox drinks in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s “the alcoholic equivalent of a mugging — expensive and bad for the head” and downing one “is like having your brain smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.”
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway devotes a significant portion of his Spanish Civil War-set tale, For Whom the Bell Tolls, to the green fairy. The emerald liqueur sends Robert Jordan, an American in the International Brigades sent behind enemy lines, back to “all things he had enjoyed and forgotten and that came back to him when he tasted that opaque, bitter, tongue-numbing, brain-warming, stomach-warming, idea-changing liquid alchemy.”
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
A minimum of four Brandy Alexanders are necessary if you want to be an “aesthete par excellence” — one who spends time “waxing in wickedness like a Hogarthian page boy” like the flamboyant and fabulous Anthony Blanche in Evelyn Waugh’s story about a wealthy, yet troubled, Anglo-Catholic family.
The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
“When Mr. Pickwick awoke next morning, there was not a symptom of rheumatism about him: which proves, as Mr. Bob Sawyer very justly observed, that there is nothing like hot punch in such cases: and that if ever hot punch did not fail to act as a preventative, it was merely because the patient fell into the vulgar error of not taking enough of it.”
The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene
“There was a tacit understanding between them that ‘liquor helped;’ growing more miserable with every glass one hoped for the moment of relief.”
Pink gin: responsible for complicating loveless marriages since 1948.
Casino Royale, Ian Fleming
Ian Fleming’s Bond was a connoisseur of vodka martinis, “shaken, not stirred,” but his heart belonged to the Vesper in the author’s first installment of the spy novel series, Casino Royale. He even named the drink after Bond girl Vesper Lynd.
Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
The hypnotic, mind-bending novelist trades magic realism and bizarre characters (like his otherworldly, pimp-tastic version of KFC’s Colonel Sanders) for drama conjured by good old-fashioned booze — specifically, sake.
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
Alcohol is a drug, but the Korova Milk Bar serves their spirits heavy on the mind-altering substances minus the ethanol in Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange. A milky concoction containing vellocet, synthemesc, or drencrom has all the necessary ingredients for an evening of ultra-violence.