5 gin drinkers from modern literature
From F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby to Charles Dickens’ Wilkins Micawber, modern literature has revealed more than a few characters of calibre to be gin drinkers. Here, we discuss five of our favourites.
In years gone by, a good gin has kept many an author company whilst prose were perfected under cover of darkness. F. Scott Fitzgerald was a noteworthy ambassador, as was Ernest Hemingway and, when paired with citrus and egg whites in a Ramos gin fizz, even Tennessee Williams was powerless to resist.
It’s little wonder, then, that gin worked its way into classic literature throughout much of the 20th century. It was enjoyed at parties, mixed in cocktails and even favoured by James Bond in his debut appearance in Casino Royale.
And if the five figures that follow were around today, you could bet your bottom shilling they’d join you for a Brockmans…
1. Jay Gatsby – The Great Gatsby
Jay Gatsby almost certainly laid on gin for guests at his legendary parties, but the only time F. Scott Fitzgerald mentions Gatsby himself drinking gin is in a tense confrontation with Tom, the husband of Gatsby’s lover.
Gatsby has rekindled his love affair with Tom’s wife, Daisy, by this point and is lunching at the married couple’s home. Seeking time alone with Gatsby, Daisy requests her husband ‘make us a cold drink’ – an order which Tom dutifully obeys, fashioning up four gin rickeys without missing a beat. Gatsby comments on their debonair appearance before drinking his down in ‘long, greedy swallows’.
A little rushed for our liking, but a commendable choice of beverage nonetheless.
2. James Bond – Casino Royale
Whilst today’s Bond is classically associated with the vodka martini, in his first ever appearance (in Ian Fleming’s novel Casino Royale), Bond orders what’s now known as a ‘vesper’ before the book’s big poker showdown.
So cool, in fact, is Bond, that he hands out instructions to the bartender; a dry martini, three measures of gin, one of vodka and half a measure of Kina Lillet with a slice of lemon.
And, of course, Bond requests the drink shaken, not stirred.
3. Wilkins Micawber – David Copperfield
The ever hopeful, always optimistic Mr. Micawber of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield drinks his famous hot punch on numerous occasions throughout the novel. The intermittent goblet of gin mixed with Madeira wine, lemon and spices seemingly keeps the old man chipper, despite his unfortunate incarceration and downtrodden luck.
On one notable occasion, Mrs. Micawber makes up a bowl for Copperfield and her husband after dinner. The drink causes Mr. Micawber to become uncommonly convivial – to the point that Copperfield remarks on his outstanding company. And there’s a lesson in that for all of us…
4. Dr. Thomas More – Love in the ruins
In Walker Percy’s 1971 comment on the state of American society, disinterested protagonist Dr Thomas More sets aside his egg white allergy to drink gin fizz after gin fizz with his lover, Lola.
The fizzes decrease the pair’s inhibitions and allow them to look ‘into each other’s eyes without the usual fearfulness and shamefulness of eye meeting eye’. For a brief period, all is well with the world.
Shortly afterwards, More’s egg white allergy takes hold and the doctor breaks out in hives. True to his own outlook, More accepts his retribution.
5. Philip Larkin – Letters to Monica
Poet and novelist Philip Larkin’s love of gin is firmly cemented into popular culture in his controversially published letters to his distant lover, Monica.
Alongside revealing his innermost thoughts and feelings, Larkin makes frequent reference to numerous gins of both British and foreign heritage throughout. In perhaps the greatest line ever written, Larkin declares that ‘life is very narrow without glasses OF GIN AND TONIC [sic]’.
Phil, we salute you. We couldn’t have put it any better ourselves.