We first became acquainted with “To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion” at Tales of the Cocktail. The book was nominated for a Spirited Award, and the author, Philip Greene, was a regular presence at seminars and events throughout the festival. The title alone piqued our interest — Hemingway being a friend of the program and his drinking prowess a constant source of inspiration. So we picked up a copy and gave it a read.
The book starts with a foreword by David Wondrich, followed by a Hemingway chronology lesson. From there, it’s A-Z cocktails. Everything from an absinthe drip to the daiquiri to the pink gin. With each drink, Greene provides anecdotes as related to Hemingway. Some drinks, Papa favored at his local watering holes. Some he consumed on his travels. And others were imbibed by characters in his books.
The real draw here is not the drinks themselves — these can be found in myriad other cocktail tomes. Instead, it’s the way in which the author evaluates the cocktails. He rarely discusses a drink’s merits as a standalone sum of its parts. Rather, he paints vivid pictures of Hemingway drinking daiquiris at the Floridita Bar in Havana. Or one of Hemingway’s characters (like Robert Jordan in “For Whom the Bell Tolls”) drinking absinthe with a touch of commentary: “it’s supposed to rot your brain out, but I don’t believe it. It only changes the ideas.”
This is where “To Have and Have Another” really succeeds. It doesn’t merely list recipes. It provides genuinely interesting insights and anecdotes. Sure, it helps to be a Hemingway fan. But regardless, it’s an easy, enjoyable read from start to finish. And after spending a couple hundred pages with Hemingway, it really makes you reevaluate your drinking acumen.
“To Have and Have Another” can be purchased on Amazon for about $17. Or find it cheaper on your e-reader.