Learn how to make four literary inspired cocktails!

4 Literary-Themed Cocktail Recipes

Spice up your stay-at-home parties with these specialty cocktails inspired by American classics. Cheers!

We’ve put together ingredient lists and instructional videos for four delicious cocktails based on iconic works of American literature, plus suggested reading. So break out your inner bartender and be the hit of your next Zoom party! And as always, please drink responsibly.

Catcher Manhattan

Inspired by J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

This classic cocktail is not for phonies! We recommend rye whiskey to get the full Holden Caulfield experience, but as you saw in the video bourbon is an acceptable substitute. Here’s the ingredient list:

— 2 oz. rye whiskey
— 1 oz. sweet vermouth
— 2-3 dashes of bitters
— orange-cherry garnish


Ethan Pom

Inspired by Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Ahh yes nothing like adding some bubbles to your party. Ethan Frome, often considered Edith Wharton’s finest achievement in fiction, takes place in a bleak, barren New England winter. But that doesn’t mean your winter has to be bleak, make this fun and bubbly drink instead!

— 3/4 glass champagne
— 1/4 glass grenadine


The Old Man and the Seagram’s

Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea

One of Hemingway’s most well-known works, The Old Man and the Sea tells the story of an aging fisherman who struggles to reel in a giant marlin off the coast of Cuba. While he himself was living in Cuba, according to legend, Hemingway’s drink of choice was the mojito (for the record, this is highly disputed). Despite that, we think this cocktail would certainly make Papa proud.

— 2 oz. Seagram’s Whiskey
— lemon lime soda
— cumquat garnish


Tequila Mockingbird

Inspired by Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Harper Lee’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel To Kill A Mockingbird is one of the most beloved stories of all time, as it has been translated into more than 40 languages and has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. This cherished classic was also recently voted America’s best-loved novel in PBS’s Great American Read and, we must say, this cocktail is much-loved by us too.

— 1.5 oz. tequila
— muddled blackberries
— club soda

The cocktails were prepared by Food For Thought, the exclusive catering partner for the American Writers Museum. While in-person events are difficult at the moment, we have come up with a number of ways to make your next virtual event one worth writing about, from guided tours, live talks with writers, and more. Learn more and see how we can help you here.


Nate King is the Content and Communications Coordinator at the American Writers Museum

Edited by Nate King

Nate is the Content & Communications Coordinator for the American Writers Museum. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2014 with a B.A. in Journalism and a penchant for American literature. For three years he waited tables while developing a healthy writing habit, during which time he became a regular blogger for the AWM blog. Originally from the mountains of New Hampshire, Nate moved to Chicago in 2015.

Skip to content