A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
A Moveable Feast
Ernest Hemingway
Drink: A Mojito

Books and alcohol have been bedfellows for centuries.  Many readers love to curl up with a good book and a drop of their favorite tipple. But what are the finest pairings of literature and beer, or wine or liquor?

It would be great to match Douglas Adams’ Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, a cocktail of galactic power, with a challenging read like Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, but that’s never going to happen.

There is a bevy of drinks that are ideal companions for books, and many brewers and winemakers have been inspired by literary culture.  There’s Hercule Stout, a Belgian beer, featuring the mustachioed face of Agatha Christie’s detective on the label.  The Thomas Hardy Ale, brewed by Eldridge Pope until 2009, has almost mythical status among real ale aficionados. And we’d love to sample the wonderfully named Grains of Wrath Double IPA produced by the Ontario microbrewery of Church-Key.

This list is designed to wet your whistle and boost your bookshelf. But please remember to drink responsibly (and we are kidding about absinthe).

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Book and Booze Pairings

The Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter Read:
Last Bus to Woodstock
by Colin Dexter

Drink: Hobgoblin Bitter

Oxford’s most famous sleuth is Inspector Morse, known for collecting his thoughts in the pub. Morse poured scorn on lagers and soft drinks, and those who drank them, and he’d enjoy a pint of Hobgoblin – a strong bitter brewed in nearby Witney.

Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram by Iain Banks

Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram
Iain Banks

Drink: Glenfiddich Havana Reserve

Scottish novelist Iain Banks – famous for The Wasp Factory, The Crow Road and lots of science fiction - loves whisky. Raw Spirit is his 2003 travelogue of touring Scotland’s distilleries. A dram of Glenfiddich Havana Reserve appealed to Banks.

Judgment of Paris by George M Taber

Judgment of Paris
by George M Taber

Drink: Chateau Montelena's 1973 Chardonnay

The blind Paris tasting of 1976, judged by a panel of French wine experts, is one of the greatest events in wine history. California’s finest beat France’s finest and shook up the wine world. This book tells the story of Steven Spurrier and his tasting.

Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming. Read:
Diamonds are Forever
by Ian Fleming

Drink: Vodka martini, shaken, not stirred

How could we not feature a James Bond book on this list? This famous phrase first appeared in Diamonds are Forever in 1956. The 007 movies turned the phrase into the one of the most quotable lines in cinematic history.

The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving

The Hotel New Hampshire
by John Irving

Drink: Ottakringer Gold Fassl

One of the reoccurring themes in Irving’s novels is Vienna, which features in this coming of age story and an oddball New Hampshire family. Ottakringer Gold Fassl, a light pilsner, is one of the most famous of Viennese beers and would appeal to an Irving character.

Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L Sayers

Busman's Honeymoon
by Dorothy L. Sayers

Drink: Anything from Château Lafite Rothschild

Sayers’ posh sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey enjoyed the finer things in life and that included good wine. A classic red from Château Lafite Rothschild (perhaps out of our price range), one of the most famous producers of Bordeaux, would be his cup of tea.

The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye Read:
The Far Pavilions
by M.M. Kaye

Drink: Gin and Tonic

Kaye’s epic novel of British colonialism in India describes the adventures of Ashton Pelham-Martyn and is a fine example of complex storytelling. Gin and tonic was invented by the British in India as a refreshing method of passing time at the club.

Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin

Knots & Crosses
by Ian Rankin

Drink: A pint of Deuchars IPA & a glass of Johnny Walker

Coming from a tough Scottish housing estate, Inspector John Rebus is a hard drinking man and takes a pint and a whisky at the same time. The Deuchars IPA was temporarily rebranded as Rebus’ favorite pint a few years ago.

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning
by Laurie Lee

Drink: ‘fabrica de cerveza’ – a lager brewed by the bar itself

Cider with Rosie is too obvious so we’re going for the second book in Lee’s trilogy where he walks to London and then goes onto Spain as the civil war looms. He vividly describes tumbling out of Madrid’s bars in one of the greatest of all memoirs.

The Mauritius Command by Patrick O’Brian Read:
The Mauritius Command
by Patrick O'Brian

Drink: A naval ration of grog (that’s watered down rum)

O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels are set during the Napoleonic Wars - the protagonists are a Royal Navy captain and his ship’s surgeon. The Royal Navy issued a daily ration of rum to its sailors from 1855 until 1970. The expression ‘sea legs’ has nothing to do with grog.

The Red Room by August Strindberg

The Red Room
by August Strindberg

Drink: Absinthe

OK, so absinthe makes you go blind and crazy, but if it’s good enough for Napoleon and Bohemian novelists like Sweden’s August Strindberg then it might be worth a go. A satire on life in Stockholm, The Red Room shows hypocrisy is always just around the corner.

The Morning Watch by James Agee

The Morning Watch
by James Agee

Drink: Whiskey Sour

Agee died at 45 and whiskey sour was his preferred poison. The Morning Watch is lesser known, when compared to A Death in the Family, and is semi-autobiographical. It’s a story of adolescent crisis based on the author’s experiences in rural Tennessee.

Man O’ War by Walter Farley Read:
Man O' War
by Walter Farley

Drink: Mint Julep

Mint Julep is the drink of choice at the Kentucky Derby and Man O’ War was one of America’s greatest racehorses, winning 20 of 21 races. Farley’s biography verges into fiction but sheds light on the achievements of this famous Kentucky-born horse.

English Passengers by Matthew KnealeRead:
English Passengers
by Matthew Kneale

Drink: XXX Ale

You can only get Boag’s XXX Ale in Tasmania where much of Kneale’s wonderful but complex novel is based. Boag’s was formed in 1883. The action in English Passengers takes place slightly earlier and features smugglers, convicts, bureaucrats, vicars and aboriginals.

The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory

The Queen's Fool
by Philippa Gregory

Drink: Bloody Mary

Catholic Queen Mary became known as Bloody Mary because of her relentless persecution of Protestants. She loved a good burning. Gregory’s novel looks at Mary and her more famous half-sister Elizabeth I and is a sympathetic account of a brutal queen.

The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts by Louis de Bernières Read:
The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts
by Louis de Bernières

Drink: Pisco Sour

Pisco sours originate from Chile and/or Peru. This novel is the first in de Bernières’ Latin American trilogy of chaos and political corruption. It parodies the worst excesses of South American dictatorships – the storyline veers frequently into violence as ordinary folks struggle on.

Amongst Women by John McGahernRead:
Amongst Women
by John McGahern

Drink: Irish Stout

This is a tough novel about an IRA veteran and his family. It’s McGahern’s best known work and a modern masterpiece. You’ll need several pints of stout to stomach the main character’s brutal tyranny of his wife and children.

Cheekie: Child Out of the Desire by Clarence Nero

by Clarence Nero

Drink: Bourbon

Another grueling novel that reminds us New Orleans is a tough city where violence, drugs and poverty fill the housing projects while the tourists enjoy Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street. But remember Bourbon Street was named after France’s House of Bourbon and not the drink.

The Colour of a Dog Running Away by Richard Gwyn Read:
The Colour of A Dog Running Away
by Richard Gwyn

Drink: Sangria

An excellent novel set in Barcelona written by a Welshman. Lucas, a musician living in the Gothic Quarter, embarks on a passionate love affair with Nuri, and they become mixed up with a religious sect.  Sangria will put you in the mood for the Spanish setting.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeRead:
The Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde

Drink: Oscar Wilde mild (brewed by Mighty Oak Brewing Company in Maldon, Essex)

The idea of Oscar Wilde drinking mild (traditionally a working class drink) is highly amusing but this beer, rather like Dorian Gray, is no ordinary tipple – it was the Supreme Champion Beer of Britain 2011 at CAMRA's Great British Beer Festival.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
by Washington Irving

Drink: Ichabod Pumpkin Ale from the New Holland Brewery

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow remains one of the great short stories ever written. Washed down with a drop of pumpkin ale on a chilly winter evening, this story becomes even more chilling. How does that headless horseman see where he is going?

Specimen Days by Walt Whitman Read:
Specimen Days
by Walt Whitman

Drink: Drink Walt Wit (brewed by the Philadelphia Brewing Company)

Walt Wit is a Belgian-style white ale. More irony – Whitman supported temperance despite having the sort of mammoth beard usually sported by real ale drinkers. Specimen Days offers diaries, notes and essays dealing with Whitman's ancestry, boyhood and Civil War experiences.

The Long Goodbye by Raymond ChandlerRead:
The Long Goodbye
by Raymond Chandler

Drink: Gimlet

The Long Goodbye popularized the drink so nothing else can really accompany this classic example of hard-boiled detective fiction. Chandler’s drunk, Terry Lennox, insisted a true Gimlet is half gin and half lime juice. Sadly, Chandler struggled with alcohol addiction.

This Sweet Sickness by Patricia Highsmith

This Sweet Sickness
by Patricia Highsmith

Drink: Brandy Alexander

Highsmith is the mistress of psychological thrillers where people are not what they seem and there is usually a knock-out punch at the end. This Sweet Sickness is a story of obsession and brandy alexander has the type of kick required to match Highsmith’s twists and turns.

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