Barfly

WEEKEND WITH HEMINGWAY – PART 9: Pauline Hemingway’s Rum Scoundrel

Pauline Pfeiffer was the second of Hemingway’s four wives and one of three to have grown up in St. Louis.

For many Hemingway fans, Pauline was the “relentless one” (as Hemingway describes her) who stole Ernest from his one true love, first wife Hadley. In his posthumously published, A Moveable Feast he writes of his regret at causing Hadley pain: “I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her.”

However, when Hemingway fell in love it was boots and all. He wrote to Pauline in November 1926: “And all I want is you Pfife and oh dear god I want you so.

Pauline, from a wealthy catholic family, was a successful journalist with Vanity Fair and Vogue in the US before moving with Vogue to Paris. She was sophisticated and fashionable, with a bubbly sense of humour in contrast to the homely Hadley. Hemingway converted to Catholicism to marry her in 1927. The marriage covers the Key West years – the house was bought for them by Pauline’s uncle. It was also arguably his most creative period which produced some of his greatest short stories, such as, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. The period also covers the novels To Have and Have Not and A Farewell to Arms where he fictionalized Pauline’s difficult birth of their first son Patrick. They were divorced in 1940.

Pauline died suddenly in 1951 following an angry phone call from Ernest regarding son Gregory’s arrest for entering a female toilet dressed as a woman at a movie theatre. Gregory, known as Gigi, had gender identity issues from an early age. He later underwent a partial gender reassignment. The two men blamed each other for her death.

This recipe was Pauline’s version of a Rum Scoundrel which was invented by Julius Corsani at the Stork Club, New York. Opened by former bootlegger, Sherman Billingsley in 1929, The Stork Club was a popular place for celebrities and the Hemingways were regulars when in town. Billingsley looked after his celebrity clientele (Ernest cashed his cheque for $100,000 for the movie rights to For Whom the Bell Tolls here in 1940) but there were strict rules of behaviour and dress. The club’s fame for being full of celebrities led to it being a TV series that ran from 1950 to 1955. Directed by Yul Brynner, the show revolved around Billingsley moving from table to table interviewing guests. The club closed in 1965.

A Rum Scoundrel is similar to a Daiquiri but with a white sugar rim. In Pauline’s version brown sugar was used instead of white.

Philip Greene (To Have and Have Another) got the recipe from the son of Toby Bruce, one of Hemingway’s greatest friends.


Recipe 

45ml White Rum

45ml Fresh Lime Juice

¾ tsp. (about 10 grams) Brown Sugar

Add ice to shaker, shake then strain into chilled cocktail glass.


I first had this cocktail at my friend Lighty’s house. We had it as intended with the brown sugar rim, but I recently tried it with a couple of variations. I mixed it with the sugar in the shaker and drank it with and without the sugared rim. I thought with the sugar in the drink and not on the rim it would be too sweet but the contrasting lime balanced the drink quite well. However, Pauline’s version is more refreshing and works well as an afternoon cocktail.

Pauline’s recipe has a strong lime flavor and drinks a little like a Margarita – helped by the sensation of the sugared rim. Try varying the ratios. Increasing the rum and decreasing the lime will make it sweeter with a stronger alcohol taste.

Share: