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.