Volunteer Karolina Samples Hemingway’s Cocktails with Author Philip Greene.
On Wednesday, December 12th, I had the double pleasure of getting a book signed and getting a drink made for me by an author. The bartending, book-writing genius in question is Philip Greene, one of the founders of the Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans and the author of To Have and Have Another—a Hemingway Cocktail Companion.
The cozy bar The Last Exit in Washington, D.C.’s Mount Pleasant hosted Philip Greene as a stand-in bartender for an evening in which he doled out autographs and some of his famous Jack Roses from the book.
The event intrigued me because, as anyone who knows me or has read my previous Hemingway-related blog knows, I am a die-hard Hemingway enthusiast. Greene’s book not only offers recipes for cocktails related to Hemingway and his books, but also cites anecdotes about Hemingway’s life and drinking habits and makes for an interesting read.
As a cocktail connoisseur and sought-after mixology consultant, it’s no surprise that Greene decided to offer up his drink-mixing skills for the evening. His books were also available for purchase, and between friendly bar banter and serving up specialty cocktails, he signed and dedicated books. In mine he wrote: “Have another on me. I hope you enjoy the book—in moderation of course!”
The Last Exit, a cocktail bar, serves many tempting, carefully-crafted mixed drinks made with top-of-the-line liquors, house-made ingredients and juice squeezed from fresh fruit for each drink, but the special cocktails of the evening were three variations of the Jack Rose, which makes two appearances in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. The Last Exit and Greene served three variations on the Jack Rose—the traditional, the Last Exit’s version, and Greene’s favored MacElhone version. (MacElhone was a bartender at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, which Hemingway frequented.)
A traditional Jack Rose is a simple drink—applejack, lemon or lime, and grenadine. The Last Exit version is made with Boulard Calvados, house made spiced grenadine, and fresh lime. I tried the MacElhone Jack Rose, a more complicated variant made by Greene with the usual ingredients, in addition to dry gin, orange juice, and sweet and dry vermouth. Despite the odd list of ingredients, the drink was delectable and a beautiful peachy rose color (hence the name).
The bar itself seemed perhaps like the type of place that Hemingway would have frequented. The Last Exit is a cozy little bar that you can only get to through another bar, Tonic, already giving it a mysterious air, a place only for those in-the-know. The dim lighting and eclectic lounge chairs and couches gave it a speakeasy vibe, a perfect setting for a 1920s-Hemingway-inspired cocktail hour.
The evening was lovely, and Greene was extremely friendly as he made my drinks and signed my book. The location and beverages were all fitting for the book and the book’s inspiration, and the addition of alcohol to a book signing is always a plus.