“The light music of whisky falling into a glass,” wrote James Joyce, “made an agreeable interlude.” Those are certainly among the truest words of literature ever written, but hardly the only paeans to distilled spirits penned by the world’s most famous writers — far from it, in fact.
Writers and booze have mixed in profusion since man achieved those twin pinnacles of culture: written language and distillation. Sometimes they go together well, like bourbon and bitters in a finely wrought Old Fashioned. Other times? Well, it doesn’t take more than a skim through a few writers’ biographies to see how destructive the bottle can be.
Regardless, the sheer scope of writers’ works on drinking demands the kind of contemplation best achieved over a fine glass of whiskey. In celebration of National Bourbon Day, pour yourself a glass of America’s native spirit — or mix up one of the classic cocktails below — and take a journey through the rich history of writing and drinking.
To get you started, below we’ve compiled some of our favorite works, musings, and tidbits by and about writers and alcohol. Cheers.