Mrs. Santa's Book Bag
To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companionby Philip Greene (Penguin Group, 293 pp., $24)
Let's be honest. If you are of a certain age and you don't love, refer to, or acknowledge Ernest Hemingway as having an impact on your life, then maybe you don't read. And if you don't drink, then you don't consider the whiskey sour, the mojito, or the Boulevardier, at all. But if you do both, and there are plenty of us who do, then you must buy To Have and Have Another as quickly as you can. Author Philip Greene is an unbelievable source of literary knowledge, libations, and fun. His recently published book is as much literary history as it is a recipe collection. David Wondrich's forward explains that Greene is a "third type of writer," one who writes about what writers who drink write. As a subject, Hemingway tops the heap.
Greene researched not only every book Hemingway wrote, but also his personal correspondence (where, for instance, his idea of the frozen onion was discovered). Beginning the chapter on martinis, a letter dated from 1949 instructs that a proper martini, always made with gin, should be finished with "Spanish cocktail onions very crisp and also 15 degrees below zero when they go in the glass."
Painstakingly footnoted and intensely researched, this one-of-a-kind collection features wonderful drinks, such as the Death in the Afternoon, Gregorio's Rx, and Physician, Heal Thyself. Each recipe is followed by when, where, with whom, and how the drink decorated Hemingway's life and writing. Another lovely letter finds Hemingway instructing a friend on how to make a Bloody Mary: "If it lacks authority add more vodka," he writes. Despite all that has been written about Hemingway, there is little that takes this particular angle or provides this interesting of a lens. This is a must-own book.
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