William Faulkner's Favorite Cocktail Was A Bourbon Classic

Those writers of the Lost Generation, a term Gertrude Stein coined to describe a society that came of age during World War I, really liked to drink, including Mississippi-born and bred author and literary icon William Faulkner. Sure, some of the writers of this time period liked a good martini or an in-vogue gimlet, but Faulkner was a true Southern gentleman. He loved himself a good bourbon, so it should come as no surprise that his favorite drink is one most frequently associated with the Kentucky Derby: the mint julep

While the writer was a frequent imbiber of this cocktail, he liked a version that was easy on the sugar. Faulkner's recipe only required one teaspoon. Generally, most recipes call for anywhere from 4 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons of sugar to create the simple syrup that lends to this drink's signature taste. Faulkner even had his own favorite go-to metal cup that he would drink out of when he enjoyed this liquid muse.

When it comes to the type of bourbon Faulkner would drink, he would often break open a bottle of Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon or a little Jack Daniel's. In fact, Jack Daniel's often made an appearance when he was having a hot toddy for medicinal purposes on a cold winter's eve, which he was said to do from time to time.

A Kentucky Derby masterpiece

Of course, William Faulkner's drinking habits are always up for debate. Was the "Light in August" author also sipping on a mint julep while he wrote or did he wait to have his drink as a treat after he completed a chapter? Faulkner is quoted in The Paris Review as saying, "My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky."

But regardless of when the Pulitzer Prize author enjoyed his bourbon, it should come as no surprise that Faulkner's writing, the mint julep, and the Kentucky Derby all serendipitously collided in the mid-1950s. As we know, mint juleps have been a fixture of this famed horse race since it began in 1875. Seeing how beloved it was with crowds, the Derby decided to put a ring on it in 1939 and made it the official drink.

In 1955, Sports Illustrated somehow talked Faulkner, whom the magazine refers to as "one of America's greatest writers," to pen a piece about the race where Swaps dramatically outraced Nashua, the horse favored to win the Derby, at Churchill Downs. Was he able to enjoy a mint julep among those races? Maybe, although it was SI writer Whitey Tower's job to ensure the author skipped the libations.