Hemingway Book Club Cocktails and More with Vintage Flair
by Tam Francis
When I first moved to my small Texas town, everyone was plenty friendly in the way that Southerners are, but what I mistook for friendship was mere politeness, and it took me over a year to figure it out. I love to read and desperately wanted to find a book club, but they were all very well established and had no room for a new-comer like me.
Not to mention, I already had a reputation for being that funny (as in bless your heart you’re so different) jitterbug girl. So, I started my own book club, and when I host, it’s vintage all the way. So, I thought I’d share my latest Hemingway Book Club soiree with you in hopes that you might be inspired to start your own vintage book club.
Book Club Rules
- Must Drink (and I’m not talking sweet tea and soda here)
- Host must provide napkins, plates, silverware, etc.
- Host must provide the book inspired cocktail
- Must host book you chose once a year (since we have 10 gals, sometimes one or two might go twice, but it works out)
- Pick a unique genre (once a year we pick genres and then random numbers for our order of reads)
- Create a least 10 questions about the book (or find pre-made questions)
- Moderate and facilitate discussion (we found it best to have a round where each person gets to comment without a rebuttal, and then once everyone has thrown their idea/impression to the middle, random jump-in comments are allowed)
- Gals not hosting bring food (usually book-inspired if possible)
Hemingway Book Club Soiree
My turn to host fell on the love month of February, which is also my daughter‘s birthday so I did double duty with the vintage decorations, using banners, pink tablecloths with pink tulle overlay and gobs of silk flowers. Hemingway would’ve balked at the girlishness, but we were reading ole Taddie, not trying to write like him.
I’d recently read The Paris Wife and so was inspired to read A Moveable Feast — I try to pick classic literature and books I can review here. I’d never been a huge fan of Papa Hem’s terse–and often misogynistic–writing and his lack of emotional depth. After reading The Paris Wife, I thought I should give him another go. Paula McLain’s vivid description of his time with Hadley living in 1920s Paris fascinated me.
Since we try to match the food and drink with those mentioned in the book, I kept a list of each time Hemingway mentioned imbibing, and oh my, there was so much to choose from. Below is the list of drinks and foods from just A Moveable Feast, though I know he frequently mentions food and drink in most his writings. There’s even a Hemingway Cookbook!
Moveable Feast Food and Drink
- Rum St. James
- Beer/ Dark Beer
Foods (* foods indicate what yums the gals brought)
- Portugaises (oysters)
- Mandarin oranges *
- Roasted Chestnuts
- Mashed Potatoes *
- Endive *
- Apple Tart *
- Baguette (bread) *
- Sausage *
- Crabe Mexicaine
- Pate *
- Pommes a’ l’huile (Potato Salad) *
- Steak with Béarnaise
- Roast Chicken *
- Snails *
- Cherry Tart
- Venison *
When it came down do it, most of the gals don’t drink beer or whiskey and wine is too boring and not a fun cocktail. So, I went with the rum and what better choice than to do a Hemingway Daiquiri! Plus the pink of the cherry liquor would match my Valentine theme! I was all set to follow the recipe to a tee, but living in small town Texas, our one and only local spirits store did not have ANY cherry liquor. They did however have a wonderful pomegranate liquor. If living in Texas has taught me nothing else, it’s that Texans feel they must do it their way, and they often feel they do it better. So below is the original recipe, followed by my Lonestar Hemingway Daiquiri.
Hemingway Daiquiri Original
- 2 oz white rum (Havana Club if you got it)
- 3/4 oz fresh grapefruit juice
- 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
- 1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
- 1/4 oz simple syrup 1:1
- Garnish with a grapefruit twist
Lonestar Hemingway Daiquiri
Since I bake and tablespoons make more sense to my brain I converted the recipe and as you might have noticed upped the amount of rum. I also added a sugar rim to the glass since the lime and grapefruit juices were so tart. The gals loved it.
- 5 Tablespoons white rum
- 1 Tablespoon fresh grapefruit juice
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 Tablespoon Pomegranate Liquor
- 1 Tablespoon simple syrup 1:1
- Garnish with a grapefruit twist
The only thing left for the night, was the questions, which I meticulously drafted as I read the book. I had looked on the trusty internet, but found that many of the questions for my Hemingway Book Club were too college-y and didn’t apply to my group of diverse women. Below are my questions. Feel free to use if you have a Hemingway book club meeting with A Moveable Feast.
Hemingway Book Club Questions for Moveable Feast
- Preface “If the reader prefers, this may be regarded as fiction. But there is always the chance that such a book of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact.” What is he saying? Is he suggesting little or none of his memoir is true?
- Pg. 13 “I would not think about my work and make myself impotent to do it.” What do you think he means by this? Have you ever experienced this? Do you think you can over think things and ruin it?
- Pg. 15 Gertrude Stein advised Hemingway, “But you don’t get the point at all,” she said. “You mustn’t write anything that is inaccrochable. There is no point in it. It’s wrong and it’s silly.” Do you think there is anything inaccrochable in today’s society? What is inaccrochable to you?
- Pg. 30 Stein calls Hemingway and his contemporaries The Lost Generation. Hemingway thinks, “Miss Stein and Sherwood Anderson and egotism and mental laziness versus discipline and I thought who is calling who a lost generation?” Do you agree more with Hemingway or with Stein? What does each person mean by lost? What would a lost generation mean to you?
- Pg. 49 “The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.” Are people limiters of happiness? How?
- Pg 57. “There are so many sorts of hunger. In the spring there are more. But that’s gone now. Memory is hunger.” How is memory hunger? In what way?
- Pg. 69 “There you could always go into the Luxembourg museum and all the paintings were sharpened and clearer and more beautiful if you were belly-empty, hollow-hungry. I learned to understand Cezanne much better and to see truly how he made landscapes when I was hungry.” Here he seems to be talking about physical hunger, but he talks of other hungers. Does hunger make you sharper? Agree or disagree?
- Pg. 102 “One was very dark, small, beautifully built with a falsely fragile depravity. The other was childlike and dull and very pretty in a perishable childish way.” What does he mean by falsely fragile depravity or perishable childish? Many have said his character descriptions are too cruel. Do you like his character descriptions why or why not?
- Pg. 133 “In Dostoyevsky there were things believable and not to be believed, but some so true they changed you as you read them.” Has a book or words ever changed you because they were so true? What words? Book? Song? Poem? Did they change you permanently or for just those moments? How long did the change last?
- Pg. 165 “I felt the death loneliness that comes at the end of every day that is wasted in your life.” What do you think he means by this? Have you felt this way? What makes a day feel wasted?
- What was the relationship between Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, as described in A Moveable Feast? Did he truly love her or is his and the readers perception tainted by nostalgia and the manipulation of the posthumously printed work?
- What were your overall impressions of A Moveable Feast. Would you recommend it? Did the novel make you a fan of Hemingway. How does it compare to his other writing?
Have you read Hemingway? Have you read A Moveable Feast? How would you answer my questions? Have you had a Hemingway Daiquiri? Try my Lonestar version? What did you think? Are you in a book club? How do you run yours?
Tam Francis is a writer, blogger, swing dance teacher, avid vintage collector, and seamstress. She shares her love of this genre through her novels, blog, and short stories. She enjoys hearing from you, sharing ideas, forging friendships, and exchanging guest blogs. For all the Girl in the Jitterbug Dress news, give-aways, events, and excitement, make sure to join her list and like her FB page! Join my list ~ Facebook page