7 famous cocktails from classic literature

Ever wondered where a vesper martini came from? Or who first made a mint julep?

Some of the most famous cocktails have literary origins, and here’s our round-up of seven of the best.

These writers’ novels are themselves steeped in booze. Cocktails are also an excellent reflection of an era, and if we look close enough, we’ll find them in the pages of some of our most beloved books.

7 famous cocktails from classic literature

1. Vesper Martini, Casino Royale, 1953
“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large, thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”

Cover of the book ‘Casino Royale’

When it comes to cocktails, James Bond knows what he likes. His signature concoction is part gin, part vodka and part Lillet, a French aperitif. When a standard martini simply won’t do, make it a vesper martini, as first introduced in Casino Royale. Shaken, not stirred.

Vesper martini. Shaken never stirred.


2. Hot toddy, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1955
The melancholy Brick Pollitt in Cat on a hot tin roof is never without a drink, constantly refilling his glass in search of “the click I get in my head when I’ve had enough of this stuff to make me peaceful.”

Cover of the Tennessee Williams’ book, Cat on a hot tin roof.

While we don’t condone self-medicating, a hot toddy is just the drink for a dozy evening spent in front of the fire. Why not take the cosiness to the next level with a chocolate rum toddy.

Chocolate hot toddy from a flask – cosy, comforting


3. Jack Rose, The Sun Also Rises, 1926
Famously claiming to drink only “to make other people more interesting”, Hemingway was never one to turn down a strong drink. Jack Barnes, narrator in The Sun Also Rises, is only slightly more restrained, enjoying a Jack Rose at the Crillon Paris hotel bar. Popular in the 1920s, it’s made with applejack, grenadine and lemon or lime juice.


4. Mint julep, The Great Gatsby, 1925
This is a novel positively steeped in liquor. Guests at Gatsby’s parties are spoilt for cocktail choice, but it’s during a row in a hotel room between Daisy, Tom and Gatsby that the mint julep, a bourbon-based drink, makes its famous appearance.

Daisy tells her husband, “I’ll make you a mint julep – then you’ll seem less stupid to yourself”. Ouch.

Cover of the book The Great Gatsby

Try Camille Style’s classic Kentucky mint julep for yourself – but don’t start any fights.

Mint juleps served in silver goblets


Famously claiming to drink only “to make other people more interesting”, Hemingway was never one to turn down a strong drink.


5. Smoking bishop, A Christmas Carol, 1843
Full of newly-found Christmas cheer, in A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge promises to help Bob Cratchitt and his struggling family, insisting that they “discuss [his] affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop”.

Early cover of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

A popular drink in Victorian England, made with port, red wine, fruit and spices, smoking bishop is much like today’s mulled wine.

Mulled wine and a mince pie. Heaven


6. Gin fizz, Love in the Ruins, 1971
“These drinks feel silky and benign,” claims Dr Thomas More in Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins. Ignoring his egg-white allergy, he downs gin fizz after gin fizz with his lover, Lola, before his throat closes up and he eventually breaks out in hives.

Cover of Walker Percy’s Love in the ruins.

There aren’t raw eggs in our strawberry gin fizz recipe but there are some cheeky berries and added mint.

Strawberry gin fizz in a glass jug


7. Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 1979
“Never drink more than two Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters unless you are a thirty ton mega-elephant with bronchial pneumonia”, is the advice given by Beeblebrox in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Advice we are more than willing to heed, given the list of ingredients, which includes the tooth of an Algolian Suntiger, Fallian marsh gas, Arcturan Mega-gin and one measure of Santraginean seawater. Oh, and an olive.

Cover of the book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

No, we don’t have a recipe for this one, but if you fancy something savoury to sip, with a twist of the unusual, why not try our wasabi cocktail? It’s not for the faint-hearted either.


Now, take a look at all our cocktail recipes. But don’t drink them all at once.

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