Saturday, July 2, 2011



 "It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."   Ernest Hemingway
Fifty years ago on July 2, Ernest Hemingway took his life. July, also the month of his birth, is a core part of the Hemingway legacy, which encompasses much more than his novels, short stories and combat journalism.
I have visited his homes in Cuba and in Key West. Beyond the books, typewriters, Picasso paintings and celebrity momentoes, I was impressed by his limestone wine cellar in Key West and the full bar he maintained in both homes. Papa, as he was universally called, had a love for life that was nearly as strong as his fascination with death. His personal yin and yang, a dominant theme in classics likes The Snows of Kilmanjaro and For Whom The Bell Tolls.

Cocktails are appropriately associated with Papa. Beginning with his early Paris days, he and his entourage, particularly F. Scott Fitzgerald, drank at places like Harry’s New York Bar, the birthplace of the Sidecar, a venerable cocktail that is still popular.

Havana was paradise for this man who radiated  joie de vevre. Hemingway’s lifelong routine was to rise early, write until mid-afternoon, walk to his neighborhood bar, and, over cocktails, share stories with locals. Although one of the world’s best known celebrities, Papa was comfortable with grassroots people, whether Cuba, Spain, Africa, Cuba or America. Guys and gals he knew in bars appeared in great stories like The Old Man and the Sea and The Sun Also Rises.

Would we have the daiquiri or mojito today without Hemingway?  His years in Havana and Key West were energized by his love for rum. Papa wrote “My mojito at the Bodeguita” in Spanish on the wall in La Bodeguita del Medio remains there today. The Papa Doble, called the Hemingway Daiquiri was crafted in Havana’s La Floridita, a favorite hangout during his years on the island.

During visits to Paris, he regularly stayed at the Ritz. Papa’s preferred cocktail there was the Montgomery Martini. Craig Boreth writes in his marvelously entertaining The Hemingway Cookbook: “Like James Bond with his Vesper, Hemingway, too, had his special martini: the Montgomery. Named after the World War II British General, Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, who would not attack unless he outnumbered the enemy fifteen to one, Hemingway’s martini contains that same proportion of gin to vermouth.” Papa’s ingredients, according to Boreth, were Gordon’s Gin and Noilly Prat Vermouth.

The Hemingway Bar at the Paris Ritz is widely considered the world’s most famous watering hole. The potent cocktails associated with Papa are house specialties.

On a July afternoon, deep in Dixie, the heat calls for rum. It’s a pleasant delimna: a daiquiri, mojito or martini? The mojito, a first cousin of the mint julep, seems appropriate and I’ll mix one and toast to life, laughter, adventure and friendship. A salute to Papa.

July is also the month America was born. Why and how we celebrate:

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post, Doc. No rum in sight, but I'm raising my glass to you and to Papa Hemingway, on the 50th anniversary of his passing.

    Sheila Callahan