Writer’s And Their Cocktails

Writers with cocktails may be a stereotype, yet it is true. Many famous writers drank, partly to keep alive the romantic image of writers drinking. In big cities like New York, London, Paris, Moscow, Madrid, Toronto, Los Angeles, and Chicago, there are bars that are famous for being dedicated watering holes of the local literary set.

So why do writers drink?

First off, though many famous writers were heavy drinkers, that was a select few. Thousands of writers did not drink in excess. Some may think that drinking is a ‘muse’ that makes them a better writer, or at least look like one.

Be forgiving and lenient about the drinking by previous generations. Everyone drank because the water was unfit to drink until the 20th Century. Furthermore, previous generations had the Civil War, World War One and Two, fascism, communism, the Great Depression, the Cold War – it’s amazing that there were not more alcoholics.

I write and I can say that many writers, and artists, drink to relax their minds that are exhausted from a prolonged creative drive of production. The mind needs a release, a distraction. Joni Mitchel, a jazz singer-songwriter, escapes into painting after producing an album. Many artists play golf, paint, sculpt, garden, cook, make furniture, travel, sail, or do whatever, after an intense period of mental activity. I find hiking and ballroom dancing as my best releases.

Granted, many famous writers drank to excess, such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dylan Thomas, Dorothy Parker, Anne Sexton, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, and others. The pressure to continually create and produce makes some writers susceptible to problem drinking. It’s proven that one out of ten people have a proclivity to have drinking or substance abuse issues.

On a deeper note, it isn’t depression that drives writers to drink – it is fear. Fear of losing the ability to create. This is common among all the arts and that’s why artists do crazy things in an attempt to spark their creativity.

Writers don’t fear death – they fear writer’s block, a fate worse than death.

So, let’s take a look at what some famous writers have to say about drinking and their favorite drinks to evoke their Muse.

The Ten-Year Lunch: The Wit and Legend of the Algonquin Round Table (1987)

The Algonquin Roundtable, writer’s dinking club, NYC, 1920s

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway's 8 Favourite Madrid Haunts

“I drink to make other people more interesting.” Hemingway

“Wine is a good thing, it makes you forget the bad.” (A Farewell to Arms)

Ernest Hemingway (1899- 1961). Received the Nobel Prize and the Pulitzer Prize. Known for writing A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bells Toll, The Old Man and the Sea, and more.

Favorite Bars: Margots, Paris; Ritz, Paris; Carousel, New Orleans; Sloppy Joes, Florida Keys; Cerveceria Alemana, Madrid; El Floridita, Havana.

Drink of Choice: Mojito

2 parts rum, 1 part fresh lime juice, 6 mint sprigs, 2 teaspoons of sugar, soda water.

Mojito Cocktail | Culinary Hill

F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald's life was a study in destructive alcoholism | PBS  NewsHour

“First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” Fitzgerald

“Here’s to alcohol, the rose colored glasses of life.” (The Beautiful and the Damned)

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 –1940) American novelist. Known for The Great Gatsby, This Side of Paradise, Tender Is the Night.

Favorite Bars: Ritz, Paris; Margots, Paris.

Drink of Choice: Gin Rickey

2 oz. gin, juice of half a lime, sparkling water

Classic Gin Rickey (3 Ingredient Cocktail!) – A Couple Cooks

Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker Quotes

“Three be the things I shall ever attain: envy, content, and sufficient champagne.” Parker

Dorothy Parker (1893 – 1967), American writer of short stories, poems, plays, film screenplays.

Favorite Bar: Algonquin, NYC

Drink of Choice: Whisky Sour

3 parts bourbon

2 parts fresh lemon juice, 1 part sugar syrup

Shake with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass.

Whisky Sour inspired by I Am Legend - All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

Lord Byron

Lord George the mad Byron. – Grandchild of God.

“Man must drink because he is a rational animal.” Byron

Lord Byron (1788 – 1824) British poet. Known for Don Juan and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.

Favorite Bars: Atico Cafe Greco, Rome; Café Pedrocchi, Padua, Italy.

Drink of Choice: Zitsa, Greek sparkling white wine.

Byron is a national hero of Greece and died fighting for its independence.

Sparkling Wine Made In Greece - Best Sparkling Wine | Domaine Glinavos

Dylan Thomas

When writers drink

“An alcoholic is someone you don’t like who drinks as much as you do.” Thomas

Dylan Thomas (1914 – 1953), Welsh poet and playwright.

Known for: “Do not go gently into that good night but rage, rage against the dying of the night.”

Favorite Bars: White Horse Tavern, NYC; Vesuvio Cafe, San Francisco.

Drink of Choice: Straight Whiskey

The Three "Wise Men" of Whiskey in One Shot Glass | Recipe | Three wise  men, Shots alcohol, Shot recipes

Sylvia Plath

The Letters of Sylvia Plath and the Transformation of a Poet's Voice | The  New Yorker

“Vodka went straight down into my stomach like a sword swallower’s sword and made me feel powerful and god like.” Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963) American poet, won the Pulitzer Prize, known for The Bell Jar, The Colossus, Ariel, Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams.

Favorite Bar: Ritz Carlton, Boston

Drink of Choice: Vodka Martini


6 parts vodka, 1 part dry vermouth, garnish with lemon peel.

Martini recipe | BBC Good Food

Truman Capote

Truman Capote | Truman Capote Biography | American Masters | PBS

“I don’t think I’ve ever drunk champagne before breakfast before. With breakfast on several occasions, but never before before.” (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)

Truman Capote (1924- 1984) American novelist. Known for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, In Cold Blood, Other Voices Other Rooms, The Glass Harp.

Favorite Bars: Carousel Bar, New Orleans

Drink of Choice: Screwdriver, he called “my orange drink”

1 part vodka

2 parts orange juice

Screwdriver Drink Recipe | Mix That Drink

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe Bio: Macabre Stories Inspired by a Tragic Childhood |  Endpaper: The Paperblanks Blog

“Fill the mingled cream and amber, I will drain that glass again. Such hilarious visions clamber, Through the chambers of my brain.” Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849), American writer, essays, novels, short stories, poems. Known for The Purloined Letter, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Gold Bug, Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.

Drink of Choice: Brandy Eggnog (Poe Family Recipe)

1 part brandy, 1 part rum

7 eggs, 5 cups milk

½ cup whipping cream, 1 cup sugar

How to Make Eggnog

Jane Austen

Jane Austen: A Woman Before Her Time

“In the meantime for Elegance and Ease and Luxury, I shall eat ice and drink French wine, and be above Vulgar Economy.” Austen Letter to Cassandra, 1808

Jane Austen (1775 – 1917) British novelist. Known for Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey.

Drink of Choice: French Wine

Chardonnay Grape: 10 Facts - SecondBottle Presents Chardonnay

Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac's Rules for Writing. In the winter of 1948, Jack Kerouac… | by  Loren Kantor | WritingAndTyping | Medium

“Don’t drink to get drunk, drink to enjoy life.” Kerouac

Jack Kerouac (1922- 1969) American novelist. Known for On the Road, The Town and the City, Big Sur, The Dharma Bums.

Favorite Bars: White Horse Tavern, NYC; Kettle of Fish, NYC; Vesuvio Café, San Francisco.

Drink of Choice: Margarita

10 parts tequila

4 parts orange liqueor, 3 parts fresh lime juice

Garnish with salt on the glass rim.

Margarita Cocktail | KitchenCraft

William Faulkner

William Faulkner probably got rejected more than you. ‹ Literary Hub

“My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey.” Faulkner

William Faulkner (1897-1962) American novelist, received the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes. Known for The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light In August, Absalon Absalon!, The Reivers.

Favorite Bars: Carousel, New Orleans; Chumley’s, NYC; Algonquin, NYC.

Drink of Choice: Mint Julep

3 ounces bourbon

4 mint sprigs, 1 teaspoon powdered sugar, 2 teaspoon water

Garnish with a mint sprig.

The Easiest-Ever Mint Julep Recipe | Real Simple

Anne Sexton

Early Anne Sexton works rediscovered after 60 years | Poetry | The Guardian

“God has a brown voice, so soft and full as beer.” Sexton

“Poetry is still first, cigarettes and alcohol follow.” Sexton

Anne Sexton, (1928-1974) American poet, awarded the Pulitzer Prize, known for Live or Die, poems.

Favorite Bar: Ritz Carlton, Boston

Drink of Choice: Gin Martini

6 parts gin, 1 part dry vermouth, Mix in a shaker with ice, strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel oil and olives.

Martini cocktail: shaken or stirred? - FreshMAG

Mark Twain

Mark Twain

“Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” Twain

Mark Twain (1835- 1910) American novelist. Known for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court.

Favorite Bars: Algonquin, NYC; Antico Caffe Greco, Rome.

Drink of Choice: Old Fashioned

2 parts bourbon or rye whiskey, 1 sugar cube, few dashes Angostura bitters, few dashes of water, Muddle sugar, bitters, and water in an old fashioned glass. Fill with ice and whisky, stir.

30 Classic Cocktails Everyone Should Drink Once | Eat This Not That

Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams's Key West - Opal Unpacked

“A drinking man’s someone who wants to forget he isn’t still young and believing.” (Cat On a Hot Tin Roof)

“Liquor is one way out and death’s the other.” Williams

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) American playwright, Pulitzer Prize. Known for: A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, Sweet Bird of Youth.

Favorite Bars: Carousel, New Orleans; Ritz Carlton, Boston; Algonquin, NYC.

Drink of Choice: Ramos Gin Fizz

2 oz. gin, ¾ oz. simple syrup, ½ oz. heavy cream, ½ oz. lemon juice, ½ oz. lime juice

1 fresh egg white, 3 dashes of orange flower water, chilled club soda

Rosemary-Lemon Gin Fizz - Jawns I Cooked

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay | She Inspires

“Ah, drink again,

This river that is the taker away of pain,

And the giver back of Beauty!” Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892- 1950) American writer, essays, poems, plays.

Drink of Choice: Side Car

2 parts cognac or brandy, 1 part orange liquor, 1 part fresh lemon juice

Shake with ice, strain into a chilled martini glass.

The Sidecar Cocktail probably doesn't have anything to do with motorcycles  | Autoblog

Oscar Wilde

165 años del nacimiento de Oscar Wilde, el escritor que se volvió trending  topic - LA NACION

“After the first drink you see things as you wish they were. After the second you see them as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.” Wilde

Oscar Wilde (1954-1900) Irish playwright. Known for The Importance of Being Earnest, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Favorite Bar: Kennedy’s, Dublin

Drink of Choice: Absinthe 1

1 oz. absinthe

Pour ice cold water over a sugar cube on a spoon over the drink until dissolved.

Absinthe Effects & The Green Fairy Drink Fallacy - Vertava Health Ohio

William Shakespeare

Do you know what Shakespeare wrote about India? - World News

“The wine-cup is the little silver well, where truth, if truth there be, doth dwell.” Shakespeare

“I pray you, do not fall in love with me, for I am falser then vows of wine.” (As You Like It)

“His drunkenness is his best virtue, for he will be swine drunk, in his sleep he does little harm.” (All’s Well That Ends Well)

William Shakespeare (1564- 1616), British playwright.

Favorite Bars: Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, London; George Inn, London.

Drink of Choice: Beer and Ale

Jane Austen Brewed her own Specialty Beer

Edith Wharton

Why Edith Wharton Might Hate My Play

“Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.” Wharton

“We ought to be opening a bottle of wine.” Wharton

Edith Wharton (1862-1937) American novelist, awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Known for The Age of Innocence, Ethan Frome, The House of Mirth, The Reef, The Glimpses of the Moon.

Drink of Choice: Wine

wine glass: The size of the wine glass can influence the amount of alcohol  you drink - The Economic Times

Raymond Chandler

Agenda cultural en Wilborada - Revista DC

“There is no bad whiskey, there is only some whiskeys that aren’t as good as others.”


“I think a man ought to get drunk at least twice a year just on principle.” Chandler

Raymond Chandler (1888- 1959) American pulp fiction and film noir novelist. Known for The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely, The Long Goodbye, The Lady in the Lake, The Little Sister.

Drink of Choice: Gimlet

4 parts gin, or vodka

1 part lime juice

Garnich with a slice of lime

Low FODMAP Gin Gimlet Cocktail - Delicious as it Looks

George Bernhard Shaw

TOP 10 facts about George Bernard Shaw you NEVER KNEW

“Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.” Shaw

“Whiskey is liquid sunshine.” Shaw

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Irish playwright. Known for Pygmalion, Caesar and Cleopatra, Saint Joan, Man and Superman, Arms of the Man.

Drink of Choice: Whiskey

Here is why you should be drinking your whiskey on the rock | The Times of  India

Emily Dickinson

32 Authors Are Awesome!!! ideas | author, book worms, favorite authors

“I taste a liquer never brewed,from Tankards scooped in Pearl,

Not all the Frankfort Berries, Yield such an alcohol.” Dickinson

Emily Dickinson (1830- 1886) American poet

Drink of Choice: Wine and Dessert Liqueur

Served with her infamous baked desserts.

Sweet sherry is too good to leave out for Santa | Wine | The Guardian

John Steinbeck

Where to Start with John Steinbeck | The New York Public Library

“I take my hangover as a consequence, not as a punishment.” Steinbeck

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American novelist, awarded both the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes. Known for Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Tortilla Flat, Cannery Row.

Favorite Bar: Costello’s, NYC

Drink of Choice: Jack Rose

3 parts apple brandy, 1 part grenadine, 1 part lemon juice

The History of the Jack Rose Cocktail | Nicole DiGiose

Charles Bukowski

A Commentary on 'The Secret' by Charles Bukowski - Burlington Writers  Workshop

“When you drink the world is still out there, but for the moment it didn’t have you by the throat.” Bukowski

Charles Bukowski (1920 -1994) German-American poet, novelist, known for being a “laureate of American lowlife.”

Favorite Bar: Frolic Room, Los Angeles

Drink of Choice: Boilermaker

Beer with a shot of whiskey.

The boilermaker lives on | Drink | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Carson McCullers

Carson McCullers | Legacy Project Chicago

“Imagine that whiskey is the fire and that the message is that which is known only in the soul of the man.” (Ballad of the Sad Café)

“Next to music, beer was best.” (The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter)

Carson McCullers (1917- 1967), American novelist, known for The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, The Member of the Wedding, The Ballad of the Sad Café.

Drink of Choice: Hot Tea and Sherry

Pairing Ideas. Tea and Sherry Wine | masterstalk.online

Jack London

Jack London Believed 'Function Of Man Is To Live, Not To Exist' |  Connecticut Public Radio

“It was not long until I preferred the beginning of the thousand words with a drink.” London

Jack London (1876- 1916) American novelist, known for Call of the Wild, White Fang.

Drink of choice: Gin Martini

6 parts gin, 1 part dry vermouth

Mix in a shaker with ice, strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish with lemon peel oil and olives.

Martini cocktail: shaken or stirred? - FreshMAG

Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein's Radical Grammar | The Walrus

“All of you people who served in the war, you are the lost generation. You have no respect for anything. You drink yourselves to death.” Stein

Gertrude Stein (1874 -1946), American writer in Paris, known for: Q.E.D., Tender Buttons, The Making of Americans, Three Lives, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.

Drink of Choice: Pimm’s Cup

2 parts Pimm’s, 1 part chamomile syrup

½ oz. lime juice, ½ oz. sugar

lemon-lime soda

2 lemon wedges squeezed

Classic Pimm's Cup - Louisiana Cookin

Eugene O’Neil

Eugene O'Neill Quick Facts - Tanvir's Blog

“Be always drunken, nothing else matters; that is the only question.” O’Neill

Eugene O’Neill (1888- 1953 ) American playwright, Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes. Known for: A Streetcar Named Desire, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Desire Under the Elms, Strange Interlude.

Drink of Choice: Gibson

6 parts vodka

1 part vermouth

How to Make a Gibson Cocktail | The Kitchen Magpie

Norman Mailer

J. Michael Lennon's 'Norman Mailer: A Double Life' - The New York Times

“I usually need a can of beer to prime me.” Mailer

“Cowards need alcohol to make love, they might as well make love to the bottle.” Mailer

Norman Mailer (1923- 2007) American novelist, Pulitzer Prize winner, known for The Naked and the Dead, The Executioner’s Song, Armies of the Night, An American Dream, The Deer Park.

Favorite Bar: White Horse Tavern, NYC

Drink of Choice: Bourbon

What Makes a Bourbon? Tips For Ordering Your Perfect Glass of Whiskey -  Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar

Charles Dickens

10 quotes by Charles Dickens for a fresh look at life - Education Today News

“Fan the smiling flames of hilarity with the wing of friendship and pas the rosy wine.” (The Old Curiosity Shop).

“Bring the bottled lightning, a clean tumble, and a corkscrew.” (Nicholas Nickleby).

Charles Dickens (1812- 1870) British novelist. Known for Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol.

Favorite Bars: George Inn, London; Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, London.

Drink of Choice: Sherry and Brandy

Sherry Cobbler: sherry, sugar, orange slices

Sherry Punch: sherry, brandy, port

Wassail: sherry, brandy, cider

Wassail Bowl Punch Recipe: How to Make It | Taste of Home

George Orwell

The Writing Training of George Orwell: Or How Eric Arthur Blair Became George  Orwell | by Sandeep Balakrishna | The Dharma Dispatch Annexe | Medium

“No doubt alcohol, tobacco, and so forth, are things that a saint must avoid; but sainthood is also something that human beings must avoid.” Orwell

George Orwell (1903 -1950) British writer, known for Nineteen Eighty Four, Animal Farm.

Favorite Bars: Chicken & Hen, The Canonbury, Compton Arms, all in London.

Drink of Choice: Dark Stout Beer

Beers That Taste Dark & Roasty Like Coffee (Flavour Profile – 3 of 7)

In Summary

Writers have an innate need to write, they have a specialized intelligence for it. Most people believe that they have a great novel in themselves, maybe so. But they are not ‘writers’ unless they had an overwhelming need to write when they were young.

Being a writer carries with it a heavy burden, they must produce and publish or die. Every writer goes through Hell with the torment and fears of Writer’s Block. In Dante’s Hell there is no hope, only despair. That is what drives many writers to drink.

So pay them homage and enjoy their works with a cocktail to celebrate.

Be kind and forgiving to writers, otherwise we will describe you.


Writer’s Write


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Daily Beast

The Drink Buskins

Author Guy



Bruce J. Wood
Bruce J. Wood
Bruce J. Wood, founder of AOIDE Bruce J. Wood has worked on Wall Street in business finance and strategy, and has written hundreds of finance business plans, strategic plans, economic feasibility studies, and economic impact studies. Bruce has lectured on creativity and strategic thinking, as well as worked on the development of numerous publishing, film, television, and performing arts projects, along with downtown revitalizations, using the arts as an economic catalyst. As an aficionado of music, art, and dance, Bruce is also a writer and an outdoor enthusiast. He has written poetry, blogs, articles, and many creative project concepts. He lives in the Metro Detroit area and enjoys writing poetry, backpacking, and ballroom dancing.

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