Hemingway Drinks: Gambler’s Delight

Hemingway Drinks: Gambler’s Delight

Hemingway Drinks: Gambler’s Delight

We’re spending this week celebrating the larger than life exploits of one of the brightest stars in the drinkers’ constellation by sharing five of our favorite recipes from Philip Greene’s To Have and Have Anothera tour of the drinks from Ernest Hemingway’s life and writings. We hope our teaser inspires you to read the whole thing, a fun and fascinating read and drink.

Hemingway started his exploits in life and drinking as a teenager, when he volunteered as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross in Italy during WWI. There he seems to have gained an appreciation for French brandy and Italian vermouth, which he puts together in a cocktail of his own creation in honor of his ambulance corps buddy, Jim Gamble.

It’s a refreshing little drink that’s also a great example of Hemingway’s fairly simple drinking style. Many of his go-to drinks are a shot of a base wine or spirit, softened with a little water or modified by a dash of citrus, bitters, absinthe, or even just a few berries. The typical Hemingway drink is two, or at most three, ingredients simply thrown together: brandy and water, absinthe and water, Scotch and strawberries. He didn’t like much to get between him and his spirits. It’s impressive that he figured this out before even hitting his 20th birthday. He’s not just a drinking hero, but a prodigy.


Philip Greene’s adaptation from a letter from Hemingway to Gamble

  • 1 1/2 oz Cognac–as always, Maison Rouge VSOP is an excellent choice
  • 1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth–we recommend Dolin or Lacuesta
  • orange or lemon twist, for garnish
  • splash of seltzer (optional)


  • Combine the Cognac and vermouth in an old fashioned glass.
  • Fill with ice.
  • Add seltzer, if desired.
  • Garnish


Roberts & June