Read It and Drink: A Guide to GATSBY and Alcohol

Jennifer Paull

Staff Writer

Jennifer Paull walks quickly.

Jennifer Paull

Staff Writer

Jennifer Paull walks quickly.

If chapter three of The Great Gatsby doesn’t make you thirsty, you must be Carrie Nation. It plunges you into Gatsby’s seductive parties, with “the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” You’ll want to roll right up to his brass-railed bar.

There’s a flush of anticipation, with flowers and shimmering dresses and an orchestra playing “yellow cocktail music.” But things really swing when one of the girls “seizes a cocktail out of the air, dumps it down for courage and … dances out alone.”

Part of Gatsby’s aloof power is that he drinks very little. Instead, the sober bootlegger scans the crowd, looking for Daisy.

Of course, if you really want to drink like Gatsby you’ll have to get your hands on some “incomparable milk of wonder.” Barring that, here are some tribute tipples to have at your elbow while reading the novel—and perhaps sneak into the upcoming Gatsby film.


Start with Champagne, which flappers would rub into Gatsby’s hair. French bubbly flowed into America during Prohibition, so make it the real thing—a historic house such as Veuve Clicquot, Mumm, or Moët & Chandon. It can only improve the book since, as Narrator Nick says, “I had taken two finger-bowls of champagne, and the scene had changed before my eyes into something significant, elemental, and profound.”

Gin Martini 

Shake up the Jazz Age symbol with Nolet’s Silver to salute Daisy, the girl with the silvery laugh and “voice full of money.” The Dutch gin practically blushes with rose and peach notes, a match for Daisy’s flowery bloom. Sip it while reading her reunion with Gatsby, when she sighs “I’d like to just get one of those pink clouds and put you in it…”


In honor of the green light that Gatsby yearned over, pull out the “green fairy,” only recently legal in the U.S. Pernod was the leading absinthe brand before it was banned, so make it a return to tradition.


Daisy’s first hits the bottle and gets “drunk as a monkey” on Sauternes the day before her wedding. Judging by her family’s old money, odds are she got her mitts on Château d’Yquem, the great, classic French wine. Well, at least it wasn’t Southern Comfort. Do spirits of ammonia really help sober you up?

Mint Julep

When everything comes crashing down, turn to brown. Daisy, Tom, and Gatsby have their blow-out over mint juleps at the Plaza Hotel. “I’ll make you a mint julep,” Daisy says to her husband. “Then you won’t seem so stupid to yourself.” Bad move. But as a Louisville, Kentucky, native, she would surely mix the drink with true bourbon. Try something with pre-Prohibition cred, like Four Roses, one of the rare distilleries that operated through the 1920s, selling hooch for medicinal purposes.