Philip Greene, author of To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion, offers a piece at the Daily Beast on Ernest Hemingway and Ian Fleming, two writers who drank and wrote about Campari and other drinks.
European watering holes have been seducing writers for decades. A long afternoon spent writing (or supposedly writing) at a sidewalk café, usually accompanied by an apéritif, has a certain allure and draw. Ernest Hemingway wrote of his “good café” and extolled the virtues of “a clean, well-lighted place.” Malcolm Cowley pined for those days on the café terrace, “with a good long drink and nothing to do but drink it.”
And often, from the research I’ve done for my books, those writers enjoyed the bitter apéritif Campari and, naturally, included it in their novels, memoirs and poems.
The liqueur was invented by Gaspare Campari in the 1860s at the Bass Bar in Turin, Italy, where he worked as a maitre licoriste, or master bartender. Campari is a secret blend of natural ingredients, mostly herbs, spices, bark, fruits and fruit peels. Its distinctive carmine hue originally derived from dye extracted from the cochineal, a beetle-like insect native to Latin America.
… Coincidentally, it was in Milan where Ernest Hemingway discovered Campari, just two years after Lawrence released Twilight. At age 18, Hemingway served in the International Red Cross Ambulance Corps, and was severely wounded during an Austrian mortar attack on the Italian lines near Venice. Evacuated to a hospital in Milan, he spent the summer and fall of 1918 recovering from 227 shrapnel and bullet wounds to his legs. Friends would bring him wine and spirits to help him deal with his pain (and boredom). As he recalled in his memoir A Moveable Feast, one of these friends was an “old man with beautiful manners and a great name who came to the hospital in Italy and brought me a bottle of Marsala or Campari and behaved perfectly, and then one day I would have to tell the nurse never to let that man into the room again.” When he later recounted this tale to Gertrude Stein, she brusquely replied, “those people are sick and cannot help themselves and you should pity them.” Hmmm, but the old guy did have good taste in booze, no?
…Another famous novelist and imbiber, Ian Fleming, was also a Campari fan. In fact, the first drink ever enjoyed by his signature character, James Bond, who is, of course, known for ordering a Vesper and his “shaken, not stirred” Martini, was actually the Americano. It makes an appearance in Fleming’s first Bond novel, Casino Royale, published in 1953:
“Bond ordered an Americano and examined the sprinkling of overdressed customers, mostly from Paris he guessed, who sat talking with focus and vivacity, creating that theatrically clubbable atmosphere of l’heure de l’apéritif. The men were drinking inexhaustible quarter-bottles of Champagne, the women Dry Martinis.”
Speaking of Paris, Fleming reveals his disdain for the City of Light’s cocktail scene in his 1960 short story “From a View to a Kill.”
“James Bond had his first drink of the evening at Fouquet’s. It was not a solid drink. One cannot drink seriously in French cafés…No, in cafés you have to drink the least offensive of the musical comedy drinks that go with them, and Bond always had the same thing—an Americano—Bitter Campari, Cinzano, a large slice of lemon peel and soda. For the soda he always specified Perrier, for in his opinion expensive soda water was the cheapest way to improve a poor drink.”
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: