Seven Cocktail Recipes & Drink Suggestions, Inspired By Our Favorite Pieces of Literature

Posted by Thom Dunn

Mint Julep, Photo by Robert S. Donovan

Cocktail recipes and drink suggestions, inspired by our favorite pieces of literature! Sip away whilst reading a great piece of writing. Just don’t drink too much. We’d like you to remember it later.

Gimlet photo by Michael Korcuska

Gimlet & Raymond Chandler’s Mystery Novels: Philip Marlowe, the primary character in Raymond Chandler’s mystery novels, helped to cement the classic noir archetype of the hard drinkin’ detective. In The Long Goodbye, Marlowe spends an awful lot of time drinking gin gimlets with his new buddy, Terry Lennox. According to Lennox, “‘What they call a gimlet is just some lime or lemon juice and gin with a dash of sugar and bitters. A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow.”

And so:

2 oz Gin

2 oz Rose’s Lime Juice

Be a totally badass detective and get wrapped up in all kinds of crazy, violent, and convoluted conspiracies involving sexy women with guns and even more alcohol.

The Raven & Poe’s The Raven: Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.” But then again, haven’t we all said that after we awake from a night of heavy drinking? That’s all that Poe was talking about — a really nasty hangover. This drink is so named for its color, but I suspect that after a few, you might find yourself quoting the raven the next morning as well.

In a cocktail shaker:

1 oz vodka

1 oz rum

1 oz blue curacao

Shake well. Strain into a highball glass over ice. And now the fun part! Slowly pour ½ oz of Chambord over the back of bar spoon so it floats on top of the concoction and gives you this kind of cool ethereal blue-type effect.

Vesper Martini on the right, Photo by Phil Guest

Vesper Martini & James Bond: Everyone associates their favorite British secret agent with the phrase “shaken, not stirred,” an oft echoed reference to the preparation of a Vodka martini. But in Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel by Ian Fleming (which then went on to inspire, you know, James Bond), 007 stops himself on the verge of ordering a dry martini and instead instructs the bartender on his own original cocktail creation, which he later names after “Bond Girl” Vesper Lynd.

In a cocktail shaker:

3 oz Gordon’s Gin

1 oz Vodka

.5 oz Lillet

Shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a slice of lemon peel. Ignore any moral reservations you might have about the women you’re about to sleep with.

Tequila Zombie & Inherent Vice: In Thomas Pynchon’s 60s stoner noir Inherent Vice, the Tequila Zombie is a popular drink at the Belaying Pin restaurant. Even the waitstaff agrees that “you’ll want to be good and fucked up” well before the food arrives. The Tequila Zombie’s just the fastest way to get there

In a cocktail shaker:

3 oz tequila

1.5 oz apricot brandy

1.5 oz spiced rum

1.5 oz vodka

3 oz grapefruit juice

3 oz orange juice

Shake well. Strain in a glass over ice. Drink. Black out. Enjoy your meal. Preferably in that order.

Photo via Mix That Drink

Red Death & Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death: Poe’s story focuses on a party held by the vapid Prince Prospero in an attempt to hide from the terrible plague that ravages the world outside his home. As such, it’s fitting that there would be a cocktail created in its name. Except that everyone dies in the end (spoilers ZOMG!), because it’s, ya know, RED DEATH. And with the hangover this one’s going to leave you with — well, Death might be the preferable alternative. (also something about both of these Poe-inspired cocktails that make the hangover jokes come so easily)

.5 oz Vodka

.5 oz Southern Comfort

.5 oz Amaretto Almond liqueur

.5 oz Triple Sec

.5 oz Sloe Gin

.5 oz Lime Juice

Orange Juice

Combine ingredients (except for the orange juice) into a Collins glass with ice. Then top off with the Orange Juice. Prepare for delicious devastation.

Poitín & Lots of Books: Also spelled “poteen” or “potcheen,” you’ll find mention of poitín in, well, everything ever written by every classic Irish writer, ever (no, really). That Rare Auld Mountain Dew, as they call it, poitín is essentially Irish moonshine, a neutral grain spirit generally produced in small pot stills at small rural homes. As such, the quality and strength of a drop of poitín can vary quite dramatically. The production and consumption of poitín was outlawed in 1661, but two small distilleries have recently been licensed to produce it commercially for exportation only — so you still can’t legally drink the stuff on the Emerald Isle (and it’s still illegal in every form in Northern Ireland). But, if you can get your hands on some (including the legal-in-the-US stuff, which is quite tasty although remarkably weak at just 45% alcohol), here’s a recipe for you:


A glass

Pour poitín into a glass. Drink it. (ice optional)

The Great Gatsby & The Great Gatsby: Of course a book about partying and decadence (and, ya know, The American Dream) would have a few drink ideas to share. While most people tend to associate the book with champagne (and certainly it flows freely in the text!), the characters also tend to drink Mint Juleps with an alarming frequency.

4 fresh mint springs

3 oz Bourbon

1 tsp Powdered Sugar

2 tsp Water

Muddle the mint springs, sugar, and water together (if you don’t have a muddler, you can try to use the bottom of the handle of some other kitchen utensil). Add some ice, and fill the glass with bourbon. Maybe garnish with an extra mint sprig if you’re so inclined, and/or determined to keep it classy.