Edgar Rice Burroughs' Favorite Cocktail Makes Bourbon The Star

There's a fascinating crossover in literature and mixology. Whether it's Truman Capote's favorite "orange drink" (a vodka screwdriver), F. Scott Fitzgerald's affinity for a gin rickey, or an Ernest Hemingway tweaked daiquiri, it's safe to assume some of the 20th century's greatest writers enjoyed a stiff drink.

The same applied to acclaimed science fiction writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, best known for publishing "Tarzan of the Apes." After publication in 1912, the feral character rose to global cultural prominence. Burroughs became a celebrity, and his cocktail preferences were put into print.

Burroughs' favorite sling of choice was the relevantly named Tarzan Special, which the writer fondly called "a soft drink bourbon." The cocktail is reminiscent of a smooth Old Fashioned in build, packing in two ounces of bourbon, a hefty dose of Angostura bitters, simple syrup, and water, all stirred with ice and served in a short glass. The author didn't hold back on garnishes, adding a lemon peel squeeze, orange slice, and maraschino cherry to finish the cocktail.

Edgar Rice Burroughs enjoyed a fruit-forward take on an Old Fashioned

With its combination of fruity toppings, the drink translates as a sweeter, brighter take on the Old Fashioned. It's possible the cocktail was inspired by Tiki drinks, which were emerging during the same period. And perhaps the cocktail was Edgar Rice Burroughs' favorite due to familial ties — his father was a distillery owner. However, as with much of cocktail history, origins remain uncertain.

Burroughs also imprinted into cocktail history with another creation — the Tarzan. This drink appeared in the 1935 cocktail book "So Red the Nose," which compiled thematic literary cocktails crafted by the author. Burroughs submitted a drink that nods to Ernest Hemingway in his included written description, as well as its taste.

The Tarzan drink is a daiquiri cocktail with an added teaspoon of orange liqueur. The cocktail alludes to Tarzan's tropical origins and reemphasizes Burroughs' predisposition to citrus – a fitting combination. Whether he drank this rum base or bourbon sling more often is unknown. However, he did note that he often enjoyed a drink or two before dinner.