“I began to think vodka was my drink at last. It didn’t taste like anything, but it went straight down into my stomach like a sword swallowers’ sword and made me feel powerful and godlike.”
— Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
There has been some evidence to suggest that famous writers in our past may have imbibed to improve and even spur the fine craft of writing. We all know some famous drunk writers, specifically the white male American authors, who shall remain unnamed (we don’t need your SEO cred, Hemingway!) because surprise surprise, they’re all you read about if you Google ANY variation of ‘famous drunk writers’ listicle. But what about other, less well-known literary drinkers who believed in a stiff drink to cure any sort of writer’s block?
As for us at TheRightMargin, we believe in celebrating accomplishment and not being afraid to reward yourself for writing well done. So whether it’s to give you a boost of liquid inspiration or to simply offer you ideas on how to celebrate, we’ve teamed up with our friends at Bevvy.co to bring you a curated list of some awesome (and far more diverse) literary heroes—plus a cocktail pairing with each one!
1. The boozy drunk writer
Edna St. Vincent Millay, one of the greatest American poets of the 20th century, led a torrid life full of sex, booze and good times. Her written art and steadfast independence led her to be honored with a Pulitzer Prize in 1923. And during the Second World War, she became a literary radio celebrity. Her love affairs and her fiery disregard for societal constraints (not to mention her considerable tolerance for spirits and wine) also gives her the honor of being the first author and poet on our list. So, without further ado, we give you the Mary Pickford.
2. The tragic drunk
Aeschylus, an ancient Greek writer and playwright of classical tragedy is usually credited as one of the first alcoholic writers in human history. Like most Greek playwrights, he had a special connection to Dionysus, the Greek god favored by party-goers and winos alike. He is said to have written many of his works while intoxicated. Because of his serious “Godfather” street cred in the drinking department, he makes our list. In honor of Aeschylus, we give you the Adonis (just don’t expect to look like a Greek statue after a few of these).
3. The dark and stormy writer
Jean Rhys, a 20th-century West Indies writer, is particularly known for writing Wide Sargasso Sea, the prequel to the famous Jane Eyre. She’s also famously known for serving time in prison and even dabbling in prostitution (for a brief period) while discovering her voice and talent as a writer. Her friends remember her as a formidable drinker and though her story tends to be a dark example of suffering-driven art, her tipsy history makes her a perfect candidate to include on this list and an author after this particular classic cocktail’s own heart. We give you the Sazerac.
4. The wino
Li Bai, also known as Li Po, was a famous 8th-century Chinese poet who put modern-day ‘winos’ to shame. His work was celebrated as some of the greatest written art during the Tang Dynasty (sometimes referred to as the “Golden Age” of China). Since he primarily wrote about drinking, solitude, friendship and more drinking, Li Po deserves a special place on this list. One scholar noted that “while some may have drunk more wine than Li [Bai], no-one has written more poems about wine.” Li Bai will be honored with a baijiu SHOT. That’s right, straight up liquor for the no-nonsense drunk writers out there. But you could also attempt to make a baijiu cocktail.
5. The happy buzz
Francois Rabelais, a 16th-century French writer and physician, epitomized the “Eat, drink, and be merry!” culture that sprang forth during the Renaissance. His comic writing broke rigid literary boundaries, and encouraged laughter and a voracious appetite for life and truth over hypocrisy. It’s said he liked to ”prescribe” wine and laughter to his patients from time to time. Maybe you can share this cocktail with your doctor at your next check up. We give you the Penicillin cocktail. And after, you can finally find out where she keeps the hangover cure.
6. The designated writer
The last (but certainly not least) writer on our list is Murasaki Shikibu, a turn of the 11th-century Japanese lady-in-waiting and all around novel-writing rockstar, who wrote the famous Tale of Genji—possibly the first novel ever written. She’s also known to have absolutely hated alcohol and general drunkenness. The only positive reference to drinking she ever made was in a particular scene where a courtier pretends to be drunk in order to make a clever, long-term play at wooing a lady. So in Murasaki’s honor, we present to you, our only non-alcoholic contribution, our literary mockt–just kidding! We actually seriously doubt she’d even stoop to drink a fake alcoholic beverage. Instead we give you matcha! Here’s how to make it.
Got some great literary cocktails to add to the mix? Or famous drunken writers to add to the list? Comment below!
Once you sober up, why don’t you start writing the next bestseller with TheRightMargin!?