The Robert E.

Howard Bar Guide
The Robert E. Howard Bar Guide

Illustration for “The Dead Remember” in ARGOSY (15 Aug 1936).

Cover image of Robert E. Howard drinking a schooner of beer is taken from his
undated postcard CL3.524. Text on back: “Schlitz didn’t pay a penny for this
endorsement—and probably won’t.”

Back cover image of a drawing of a bartender by Robert E. Howard is taken from the
REH Foundation Newsletter, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Summer 2016).

All images in this book remain the property of their original copyright holders.

Text copyright 2017 by Robert Derie.

With thanks and appreciation to Rob Roehm and Todd Vick.

This is copy ____ / 200.
Contents
The Shadow of Prohibition: Alcohol in Robert E. Howard’s Life ............................................. 2
Robert E. Howard, Mixologist.............................................................................................. 23
Measures, Ingredients, & Recipes.................................................................................... 24
Aguardiente ........................................................................................................................ 25
Beer ................................................................................................................................... 26
ABC ................................................................................................................................ 27
Ancient Beer ................................................................................................................... 27
Atlas Special ................................................................................................................... 28
Blatz Old Heidelberg ....................................................................................................... 28
Budweiser ....................................................................................................................... 28
Cairo ............................................................................................................................... 28
Coors Golden Beer .......................................................................................................... 28
Country Club .................................................................................................................. 29
Fox ................................................................................................................................. 29
Harry Mitchell’s Special Lager ......................................................................................... 29
Heather Ale ..................................................................................................................... 30
Homebrew ....................................................................................................................... 30
Jax ................................................................................................................................. 31
Moctezuma ..................................................................................................................... 32
Pabst Blue Ribbon .......................................................................................................... 32
Pearl ............................................................................................................................... 32
Prima .............................................................................................................................. 32
Rheingold........................................................................................................................ 33
Sabinas ........................................................................................................................... 33
Savoy .............................................................................................................................. 34
Schlitz............................................................................................................................. 34
Shandy Gaff .................................................................................................................... 34
Sterling Bock .................................................................................................................. 34
Superior .......................................................................................................................... 35
Texas Pride ..................................................................................................................... 35
Brännvin ............................................................................................................................ 36
Bootleg Liquor .................................................................................................................... 37
Canned Heat ................................................................................................................... 37
Force............................................................................................................................... 38
Fruit Extract ................................................................................................................... 38
Homemade Wine ............................................................................................................. 38
Jamaica Ginger ............................................................................................................... 39
Lyko ................................................................................................................................ 40
Mountain Dew, Moonshine, White Lightning, White Mule, and Rot-Gut .......................... 40
Prescription Liquor.......................................................................................................... 42
Virginia Dare................................................................................................................... 43
Padre’s Wine Elixir .......................................................................................................... 43
Bitters ................................................................................................................................ 44
Sherry Bitters ................................................................................................................. 44
Brandy ............................................................................................................................... 45
Cognac ............................................................................................................................ 45
Gin ..................................................................................................................................... 46
Gin Fizz .......................................................................................................................... 46
Trader’s Gin .................................................................................................................... 47
Kaoliang ............................................................................................................................. 47
Kumis ................................................................................................................................ 47
Liqueur .............................................................................................................................. 48
Bénédictine ..................................................................................................................... 49
Blackberry Brandy Liqueur ............................................................................................. 49
Mead .................................................................................................................................. 49
Mixed Drinks ...................................................................................................................... 50
Palm Wine .......................................................................................................................... 50
Rice-Wine ........................................................................................................................... 51
Sake ............................................................................................................................... 51
Rum ................................................................................................................................... 52
Grog................................................................................................................................ 54
Mojito ............................................................................................................................. 54
Trader’s Rum .................................................................................................................. 55
Sotol ................................................................................................................................... 55
Tequila, Mezcal, and Pulque ............................................................................................... 56
Virgin Cocktails .................................................................................................................. 57
Vodka ................................................................................................................................. 57
Whiskey ............................................................................................................................. 58
Bourbon.......................................................................................................................... 60
Canadian Whiskey .......................................................................................................... 62
High-Ball (Whiskey-and-Soda)......................................................................................... 62
Mint Julep ...................................................................................................................... 63
Poitín .............................................................................................................................. 63
Rye ................................................................................................................................. 64
Scotch............................................................................................................................. 65
Whiskey Sour .................................................................................................................. 65
Wine ................................................................................................................................... 66
Burgundy........................................................................................................................ 68
Californian Wine ............................................................................................................. 68
Champagne..................................................................................................................... 69
Indian Wine .................................................................................................................... 70
Muscatel ......................................................................................................................... 70
Port ................................................................................................................................. 70
Sherry ............................................................................................................................. 71
Shirazi ............................................................................................................................ 72
Sour Wine ....................................................................................................................... 73
Spanish Wine .................................................................................................................. 73
Spiced Wine .................................................................................................................... 74
Tokaji.............................................................................................................................. 75
Fantasy Vintages ................................................................................................................ 75
Closing Hymns ................................................................................................................... 77
Citations............................................................................................................................. 78
Recipe Index ....................................................................................................................... 79

You rogue, here's lime in this sack too: there is nothing
but roguery to be found in villainous man: yet a coward is
worse than a cup of sack with lime in it.
- Falstaff, Henry IV, Part I: Act II, Scene IV

Although there’s only one character of Shakespeare that I
have any real attachment to, and that’s Sir John Falstaff.
I have a sincere affection for that old bastard.
- Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, 22 Sep 1932
(CL2.446-447, AM1.435)
“I am Jugbelly Judkins, and my talent is guzzlin'. From the live-oak
grown coasts of the Gulf to the sun-baked buttes of Montana," says he
oratorical, "I ain't yet met the gent I couldn't drink under the table
betwixt sundown and sunup. I have met the most celebrated topers of
plain and mountain, and they have all went down in inglorious and rum-
soaked defeat. Afar oft I heard men speak of you, praisin' not only
yore genius in alterin' the features of your feller man, but also
laudin' your capacity for corn licker. [...]
So we started. First he'd take a gulp, and then me, and the jug
was empty about the fourth gulp I taken, so he dragged out another'n,
and we emptied it, and he hauled out another. There didn't seem to be
no limit to his supply. He must of brought it there on a whole train
of pack mules. I never seen a man drink like that skinny cuss. I
watched the liquor careful, but he lowered it every time he taken a
swig, so I knowed he warn't jest pertending. His belly expanded
enormous as we went along and he looked very funny, with his skinny
frame, and that there enormous belly bulging out his shirt till the
button flew off of his coat.
I ain't goin' to tell you how much we drunk, because you wouldn't
believe me. But by midnight the glade was covered with empty jugs and
Jugbelly's arms was so tired lifting 'em he couldn't hardly move. But
the moon and the glade and everything was dancing around and around to
me, and he warn't even staggering. He looked kind of pale and wan, and
onst he says, in a awed voice: "I wouldn't of believed it if I hadn't
saw it myself!" But he kept on drinking and so did I, because I
couldn't believe a skinny maverick like that could lick me, and his
belly getting bigger and bigger till I was scairt it was going to
bust, and things kept spinning around me faster than ever.
After awhile I heard him muttering to hissef, away off: "This is
the last jug, and if it don't fix him, nothin' will. By God, he ain't
human!"
That didn't make no sense to me, but he passed me the jug and
said: "Air you capable, my gulf-bellied friend?"
"Gimmer that jug!" I muttered, bracing my laigs and getting a
firm hold of myself. I taken a big gulp--and then I didn't know
nothing. [...]
"That coyote didn't drink none of that licker! He was a sleight-
of-hand performer in a vaudeville show when Donovan picked him up. He
had a rubber stummick inside his shirt and he poured the licker into
that. He couldn't outdrink Breckinridge Elkins if he was a whole
corporation, the derned thief!"
- A GENT FROM BEAR CREEK (ABE2.199-201, 223)
1

And as for his drinking—it always seemed as if he took to
liquor in the Nordic rather than the Latin-Mediterranean
way—that is, seeking oblivion or dulled sensibilities as
opposed to sharpened sensibilities.
- H. P. Lovecraft to August Derleth, 9 Jul 1936 (ES2.739)

I was afraid H.P.L. was as abstemious in eating as in
drinking.
- Robert E. Howard to Tevis Clyde Smith, Aug 1932 (CL2.417)

History does not record his first drink, nor his last. Yet there is no doubt that Robert
E. Howard was a drinker, that he enjoyed a good drink and to share a drink with
friends—not always an easy thing, during the period of Prohibition (16 January 1920 -
5 December 1933)—and too, Howard recognized drinking as a cultural phenomenon,
part of the rituals of manhood and adult society, and part of his own heritage. So
drinking often finds its expression in the Texan’s fiction: Breckinridge Elkins often
quaffed in quantity rather than quality; Sailor Steve Costigan and El Borak sampled
strange tipples in foreign climes, though Mike the bulldog stuck to his bowl of beer;
and Conan of Cimmeria, Kull of Atlantis, and Esau Cairn of Almuric indulged in
fantastical vintages worthy of heroes of myth and legend.

None of these characters were alcoholics, in the sense that they had to drink, but the
shadow of alcoholism, dissolution, and temperance hovers over each as they lift glass
or horn or leather jack to their lips. Perhaps not surprising given Howard’s upbringing
in Texas, and much of his adult life spent under Prohibition; he was bound to absorb
some of the lessons and propaganda of the drys, even as he himself eventually came to
be very much a wet, and find expression even in his Hyborian tales:

I’ve but come from the last wine-shop open—Ishtar’s curse
on these white-livered reformers who close the grog-houses!
‘Let men sleep rather than guzzle,’ they say—aye, so they
can work and fight better for their masters! Soft-gutted
eunuchs, I call them.
- “Black Colossus” (CC 1.163)

Because of Prohibition, Howard’s drinking took on an aspect of adventure: the
surreptitious sipping of prescription whiskey, visits to speakeasies, the occasional trip
over the Border to Mexico, and innumerable experiments with tonics, fruit extracts,
and green beer. A Texan with courage and an iron stomach, willing to travel far and
brave the dangers could sample many an exotic beverage in a quest for a tipple...and
Robert E. Howard certainly did.

This book comprises two parts: a biographical look at drink and drinking in the life of
Robert E. Howard, and a survey of all the alcoholic beverages he mentions in his
letters and fiction, supplemented by quotes from his writings, excerpts from the Cross
Plains Review, and period-appropriate cocktail recipes culled from contemporary
sources.
You don’t quit various things because you don’t want to quit. […]
you won’t quit drinking because you like the stuff. (CL1.365)
2

The Shadow of Prohibition: Alcohol in Robert E. Howard’s Life
Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices
of red meat and stinging wine on my palate [...]
- “Queen of the Black Coast” (CC 1.133)

The boy seems to be drinking rather heavily, lately. Well,
maybe liquor makes him get more out of life.
- Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, 24 Mar 1930 (CL2.29)

Robert E. Howard was thirteen years old when the Wartime Prohibition Act went into
effect in 1919, and had scarcely celebrated his fourteenth birthday when the Volstead
Act inaugurated Prohibition in January of the following year. Many counties and
towns in Texas were dry long before national prohibition, and remained dry after,
including Cross Plains. So the teenaged Howard had relatively few opportunities to
have a drink as a youth. He observed firsthand something of the Prohibition spirit
while working in a grocery one summer:

I used to work in a grocery store and the amount of lemon
extract etc., I’ve known some of them to buy in one day,
would startle one.
- Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, Jun 1931
(CL2.212-213, AM1.173)

Howard’s personal feelings regarding drink around this time are perhaps best shown
in his quasi-autobiographical novel Post Oaks and Sand Roughs:

He never thought of drinking or carousing—simply because he
never thought of it. He found pleasure enough in his
writing and his occasional reading. He had no prediliction
toward drinking, knew nothing about it and cared less,
despised a drunken man, and saw neither cleverness nor
humor in his maunderings.
(POSR 42)

Despite these abstemious sentiments, the young Texan apparently had a taste of
alcohol at least a few times. A casual comment suggests he may have sampled his first
cocktail (probably with parental permission) when the family visited New Orleans in
1919:

Nor have I ever tasted a drink half as good as an old
French-German woman on Canal Street used to mix—but those
were the days of good whiskey.
- Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, 22 Sep 1932
(CL2.429, AM1.381)

Another early taste might have come when Howard was 19 years old, on a trip down to
Weslaco on the border with Mexico—and possibly across it, to Nuevo Progreso:
3

I went across the Rio Grande
And viewed the great Tequila land.
The Rio Grande I went across,
It cost just fifty centavos.
There is a bar on every street.
You get quite thirsty in the heat.
I am a temperance man, confound it,
Down with all liquor! So I downed it.
- Robert E. Howard to Tevis Clyde Smith, 7 Sep 1924 (CL1.35)

By 1925 Howard, fresh from his first experience at Howard Payne Business School in
Brownwood and having made his first sales to Weird Tales, returned to Cross Plains,
which was in the midst of the oil-boom. The young Texan found work writing up oil-
field news and as a stenographer in a law-office. At some point he made a promise to
his mother not to drink, but faced with the temptations of the boom town appears to
have broken it. (B&T 112, cf. POSR 51) One of Howard’s first experiences with liquor
appears to have been in the law-office he was working:

When I used to work in a law-office I saw a good deal of
good whiskey, but for the past few years it’s been getting
rottener and rottener until it’s risky to even smell a
cork. The stuff don’t make men drunk; it maddens them.
- Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, Jun 1931
(CL2.213; AM 1.173)

By his own account, however, Howard’s first encounter with serious drinking occurred
after he had quit the stenographer’s job and, after trying other forms of employment,
went to work as a soda jerk at the City Drug Store in 1926. (B&T 119) As he put it:

I was a prohibitionist. I was very nearly grown before I
was ever drunk, though of course I’d had drinks before
then. At the time I was working in a drug store, in an oil
boom. I was a workhorse. That sounds like a funny remark to
make concerning work in a drug-store, doesn’t? But ask any
“soda-jerker” who ever worked through a boom. [...] The
last few Sundays I worked there, a couple of boys—young
oil-field workers of the better class—brought beer to us.
They made it themselves and they and their friends drank
it. They liked the drug-store bunch, and they brought us
beer in big gallon medicine jugs we furnished them. It was
nauseous. They never bottled it—began drinking almost
before it quit working. It was cloudy, green and sweetish.
Gaggh! I always let my beer stand in bottles at least a
week before I touched it. But we drank this while it was
still warm from the fermentation. Sunday after Sunday I got
drunk on it. It helped me pass the day. It put spring in my
weary muscles, and a smile—vacuous no doubt—on my generally
snarling lips. It put a little of the human touch back in
life again. I thought of myself as a man once more, and not
altogether as a work-horse. Life, under the illusive
effects of the beer, took on a brighter aspect. Old dreams
4

and ambitions woke in me. Life stirred in me anew. The men
I served drinks seemed more jovial, more friendly; the
girls seemed brighter and prettier. Sunday was always the
worst day, culminating a week of frenzied labor. The beer
made it endurable, and quieted nerves that were jerking and
twitching maddeningly. The last Sunday—which was the last
day—I worked at that job, I was so drunk I could hardly
wait on the customers. So was the owner, the manager, the
pharmacist, and the clerks; so were most of the customers.
Why not? We were all work-animals, writhing in the mire
below the foot of the social ladder.
- Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, 9 Aug 1932
(CL2.395-397, AM 1.341-342; cf. CL3.138-139)

A slightly different version of events is accounted in Post Oaks and Sand Roughs, with
the Texan’s alter ego Steve Costigan working as a stenographer just as Howard himself
had:

And now a new element began to steal imperceptibly into his
life. Several oil promoters had offices in the building
where he worked, and as these men were mostly roughnecks
risen up from the comradeship of hard toil, a fellowship
existed between them and mere office employees hard to find
elsewhere. A gay crowd frequented these offices, especially
after work hours, and beer flowed freely. Steve hesitantly
experimented and found it not unpleasant to his palate. He
had not tasted any sort of intoxicant since he was a small
child, but he remembered the tang that had then given him
pleasure. He drank a bottle of beer occasionally, and he
learned the taste of redeye and thick white corn liquor,
besides the fine Scotch which high-class bootleggers
brought into Lost Pains and dispensed by the truckload.

Somewhere in his system a vague craving stirred in him. He
wondered if this was inherent in him or a result of his
early adventures—a taste for the stuff achieved then and
lingering in his being. He went cautiously, never really
getting drunk, though at times he found himself in a rather
hazy state. (POSR 50-51)

What Howard didn’t tell Lovecraft was that after work, he would find solace at the Ice
House, which surreptitiously sold beer (despite Prohibition) and staged amateur
boxing matches. (CL2.116) Finally exhausted jerking soda, Howard made a deal with
his father, quitting his job at the drugstore and taking a course on bookkeeping and to
work on his writing. (B&T 120-123) During late 1926-1927, Howard continued
drinking, noting in one letter:

I have been drinking a little too much, but think I will
quit it and get in as good shape as possible.
- Robert E. Howard to Tevis Clyde Smith, Oct 1927 (CL1.145)
5

Perhaps Howard did keep away from alcohol for a few months, but in 1928, visited “a
bootleg joint just outside the outskirts of [Coleman]” (CL1.224), and later wrote:

Last night I was drunk but there seems to be no especial
hangover this morning. I am writing this some time after I
wrote the first part. I went to Brownwood for the weekend
last week, rode with a stranger, beat my way as usual and
under the influence of beer got voluble. I’ll swear, I have
to be partly lit before I can enjoy the company of the
average bird though I can usually talk to anybody about
anything, whether I am interested or not. [...] Last night
I was drunk. I fail to find any reason for or against that
drunk. There was no need in it, also there was no reason
why I should not have drunk. I simply enjoyed an hour or
two of dizzy maziness and then retired and slept it off. I
wasted no time thereby that I might have employed usefully
otherwise, nor did I spend any money. On the other hand,
there was no special reason for doing so, nor did I gain
anything by it. I have concluded that the ordinary drunk is
entirely too commonplace a thing to give much thought to,
either for or against—I mean an ordinary drunk such as I
was on last night. It comes under the class of reading a
book, seeing a show or kissing a girl. Merely one of the
every day phases of life, not to be denounced nor
glorified. Had I, while drunk, knocked some man down or
written a masterpiece, then the drunk would have taken on
more significance—as it is, I waste time in even
remembering the affair.
- Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, 23 September 1928
(CL1.230-231)

Howard appears also to have crossed over the Border at Eagle Pass in 1928, and
would probably have had a drink in a Mexican saloon. (CL2.78, cf. 2.304) Records of
drinking in the Texan’s letters is spotty, and it seems unlikely he recorded every tipple
or period of abstention, but it was around this time (1927-1928) he wrote Post Oaks
and Sand Roughs, where Howard seemed to grapple with the idea of alcohol in his life,
both its allure and its consequences, through his alter ego Steve Costigan:

Clive had taken to heavy drinking, and Steve felt vague
twinges of envy as he heard of the gorgeous drunks which
the blond youth was throwing. Clive was running with the
Moses Harper football team hard-drinkers, and fast-livers,
and Steve, remembering Spike, wondered how long it would be
before Clive decided that he, Steve, was too drab and
childish for him to associate with. [...] His inferiority
complex rode him with burning spurs. He went to the other
extreme in his solitary pride, stopped drinking entirely,
and became more fanatically moral than ever. [...] Clive
looked on drinking as something fine and dramatic, with the
smack of romance; while Steve was contemptuous toward it,
and bluntly expressed his opinion that indulging in
6

artificial stimulation was merely a weakness [...] He told
the truth when he said that he needed no physical stimulus,
and that a fine story or a great poem stimulated his mind
far more than liquor ever could. Yet, at times, there was a
restless and dissatisfied stirring at the back of his
consciousness. (POSR 80-81)

Such spells might last for weeks or months, but warred with thirst:

I haven’t been drunk in a long time. I need to get drunk.
My mental and physical condition calls for it. I think I’ll
go to Mexico this summer if I can. I reckon they’ll let a
white man in to get a drink of beer, at least.
- Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, Mar 1929 (CL1.355-356)

Howard did not make it down to Mexico in 1929, but despite buckling down to write—
and finding some success—managed the occasional nip here and there:

One thing, I can get good beer here which is what I need. I
haven’t tasted beer for six months and have been drunk only
twice—once on wine elixir and once on corn whiskey. Outside
of that I’ve had three small drinks of whiskey and one of
wine, which is all the liquor that’s passed my lips in six
months.
- Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, 4 Jan 1930 (CL2.10)

These dry spells appear to be the basis for the Texan later telling Lovecraft:

After I left the drug store and entered less strenuous
pursuits, I felt no need of liquor, and did not touch it
for years. When I did begin to drink again, I had grown
into manhood, in size at least; I was accepted as a worthy
companion by men who would have formerly scorned me for my
youth and literary leanings. They drank and so did I. It
was part of our fellowship. I think in the last analysis,
that is why I drink, and why most men drink. It is part of
the social life of men, varying according to their
occupations and social status. (CL2.397, AM1.343)

Many of Howard’s philosophical attitudes on drink seem influenced by Jack London’s
autobiographical novel John Barleycorn (1913), and he shared as much to Lovecraft:

Jack London analyzed the liquor question far better than I,
or any other man, can ever hope to do, in his book John
Barleycorn, which every man should read. (CL2.395, AM1.341)

At some point between 1926 and 1930, Howard and his friends appear to have
engaged in brewing their own beer. Details are a bit vague, and perhaps
understandably so, but as an endeavor such an enterprise wouldn’t have been
difficult, recipes would have been available in many libraries, and the equipment (tub,
tubing, bottle cappers, etc.) and ingredients (malt extract, hops, and yeast), could be
7

sold legally through grocery stores. A plausible account of these activities:

His mother was spending a few weeks out of town, and he got
the formula for making beer and proceeded to manufacture a
large quantity. His father looked on this, not with any
special favor, but with tolerance. (POSR 51)

Dr. Isaac M. Howard’s own thoughts and feelings regarding Prohibition are unknown;
many doctors took advantage of the ability to write prescriptions for medicinal alcohol,
but it is not clear if Dr. Howard ever applied for a permit to do so, much less sold
prescriptions. Even if he did not, he likely knew doctors that did—Robert E. Howard
wrote once of “prescription liquor” which “bore the government seal and stamp” and
cost $7.50 a pint—a typical price was $3 for the prescription and $4 to fill the
prescription, with a typical dosage being one pint every 10 days—but Bob Howard
didn’t care for it, and never made a habit of medicinal liquor. (CL2.384, AM1.324)

With regards to home brewing with Robert E. Howard and his friends, the basic
approach seems to have been that whatever their individual brewing experiments,
each chipped in toward the cost of a new batch, and when it was ready they had a
small party to drink it, as suggested in several of Howard’s letters:

I don’t know when I’ll be able to come to Brownwood, but
you’re welcome to the capper, which is the only distillery
appliance I have.
- Robert E. Howard to Tevis Clyde Smith, Dec 1930 (CL2.117)

Dave [Lee] asked last night when you and Truett [Vinson]
were coming over. He said there was some beer aging for
your arrival, though still green at present. He wants us to
go on a small beer party, as in the old days. I don’t know
whether you’ll be able to drink home-made beer after your
Mexican invasion, but in case you feel equal to it, let me
know and we’ll try to make preparations.
- Robert E. Howard to Tevis Clyde Smith, Aug 1931 (CL2.223)

Dave Lee appeared to own the keg in which the beer was aged; Tevis Clyde Smith later
included in his notes toward a biography of Robert E. Howard (“So Far the Poet…”):
“The beer Dave made in the charred keg - ‘charred choe.’” (SFP 255) As far as the
quality goes, Howard claimed:

[...] the stuff I made myself was always pure, but
sometimes it tasted like hell. And was erratic in alcoholic
content, running anywhere from fifteen to forty-five per
cent.
- Robert E. Howard to August Derleth, Oct 1933 (CL3.133)

The percent alcohol is a ludicrous claim on Howard’s part unless he and his friends
had taken to distilling their homebrewed beer into whiskey, which is possible—at least
one still was in operation in Cross Plains (CPR 14 Oct 1921 (1))—though there are no
references to a still in any of the surviving letters or memoirs.
8

In any event, these parties were not limited to home brew, but to whatever was
available. Howard recalls one party held at the Stone Ranch, which was owned by
Tevis Clyde Smith’s uncle, around Christmas 1927:

[...] one of the party was wild drunk on beer and another
was stark crazy on raw Jamaica ginger, with the obsession
that he was a werewolf. One of the bunch was a young German
[Herbert Klatt] who didn’t drink, and wasn’t used to the
violent drunks common to Americans; he backed up against a
wall and I couldn’t help laughing at his expression when
the Jamaica victim began to smash the furniture, gallop
about on all-fours and howl like a mad-dog.
- Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, Jun 1931
(CL2.213, AM 1.173-174)

A fictional version of this celebration is recounted in Post Oaks and Sand Roughs 82-
84, adding more details to the narrative:

They then, that is Costigan and Clive—Hubert having decided
to remain teetotal—drank Jamaica ginger weakened with Coca
Cola and orange juice 1, which was quite a fad among the
drunkards of that era. A more hideous concoction can
scarcely be imagined. It was like liquid fire, and anything
added to disguise the flavor only made it taste worse. They
had agreed to drink two and a half bottles apiece, but
Steve finished only half a bottle, disposing of the rest by
emptying it on the floor surreptitiously, inadvertently
ruining a phonograph which Clive had borrowed from the
Gower Penn girls’ dormitory, and about which he never
ceased to grouch thereafter.
Clive, more inured to strong drink and of great will
power, completed the contents of two bottles before he went
absolutely insane. Sebastian woke up and gibbered on the
bed, adding to the horrors of the scene. Grotz looked on in
amazement. [...] Clive raced outdoors to yowl and gibber at
the windows. He seemed to be laboring under the impression
that he was a werewolf [...]
(POSR 83, cf. SFP 255)

Another version of the story from Howard:

And yet, when I look back over a sordid past, I find that
the worst liquor I ever got hold of bore the government
seal and stamp. It was prescription liquor and cost,
altogether, seven and a half dollars a pint; more, it
purported to be sixteen years old. It knocked me blind and
kicking, and if it hadn’t been for nearly half a pint of
Canadian rye whiskey I drank at the same time, I believe it
would have wound my clock. The rye fought the poison in the

1
This is the only place where Howard refers to using either of Coca-Cola or orange juice as mixers.
9

other stuff. Separately, either might have finished me;
together, one counteracted the other. Judas, will I ever
forget that debauch! It was colder than hell, one
Christmas. There were three of us playing seven-up by a
fire in the woods. When the deuces began to look like aces,
I called to mind the feat of Rob Roy’s son in driving a
dirk through a board, and forthwith stabbed at the box on
which we were playing, with my hunting knife. But the box
was much lighter than the Highlander’s board, and knife and
fist as well crashed clear through it, ruining the game.
The liquor was at all of us, and one was clear wild. In the
grip of the obvious hallucination that he was John L.
Sullivan, he began to swing haymakers at me whenever I
reeled into reach. He was six feet two in height and as
broad as a barn-door; besides, he had heavy cameo rings on
each hand, and these rings sunk into my flesh unpleasantly.
So I avoided him and sought to go elsewhere; I must have
merely revolved about the glade, because eventually I found
myself back near the fire, with my misguided friend
grunting and swearing as he flailed his long arms about my
ears. In desperation I caught him under the heart with my
right and down he went. I remember pulling him out of the
fire; and then for hours I remembered nothing, while I lay
blind and senseless. But I remember the dawn that broke,
cold, grey, leaden—full of retching, disgust and remorse.
Uggh—those drab, brittle, grey woods! When we went to the
town, we found the countryside in an uproar; for while we
lay drunk, the “Santa Claus” gang that had looted
Southwestern banks for more than a year, had swept into
Cisco, 35 miles away and in an attempt to rob the main
bank, had raved into a wholesale gun-battle that strewed
the streets with dead and wounded.
- Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, 13 Jul 1932
(CL2.384, AM1.324-325)

These parties grew more infrequent as Howard’s friends grew older, got jobs, and
married or moved away, but over the years he and his friends had sought out—and
subjected themselves to—any number of potables, as Howard recalled not long before
Prohibition was discontinued:

Ah, well, if our leaders will give us back our booze I will
quarrel with no one. My entrails have been insulted with so
many damnable concoctions for so many years, that I fear I
may have lost the ability to appreciate good liquor—though
on my pilgrimages to Mexico I find that knack unimpaired so
far. I shudder when I think of the stuff I’ve put into my
innards. Looking back, I find that drinking, in this
country at least, has been divided more or less definitely
into various epochs, in each of which a different brand of
poison and hell-fire dominated the thirsts of the people.
Right after prohibition came in, everybody drank a tonic
10

known as Force, which bore a picture on its label of Samson
tearing the lion—and its effect was similar; they
alternated this with another tonic known as Lyko. Then
followed a fruit extract period, until the companies began
bringing out extracts without alcoholic content. I still
recall the fervent and sincere bitter blasphemies of
staunch souls who had quaffed numbers of bottles of
extracts, before discovering their nonalcoholic nature.
Then came the boom-days of Jamaica ginger, which exceeded
all epochs before and since. I doubt not that even now the
mad-houses are filled with the gibbering votaries of jake.
Legislation interfered with jake, and the makers of white
mule, red eye and rot-gut came into their own. Of course,
these drinks had been interwoven in all the other periods.
Alternating poisons were hair-tonics, wood-alcohol and
canned heat. I’ve seen old soaks who apparently preferred
canned heat to anything else. Then there were other tonics—
Sherry Bitters, Padres Wine Elixir, Virginia Dare. Virginia
Dare tastes the best—that is to say, a strong man can get
it down by gagging and holding his nose. A friend of mine
and I stood one rainy night in the lee of the Brown County
library wall, and strove manfully to get down a bottle of
Sherry Bitters. Seasoned though we were on rot-gut, we
ended by throwing the bottle over the nearest fence and
drifting away on the bosom of the great, silent, brooding
night. Padres Wine Elixir was a favorite of mine in my
younger and more unregenerate days. It is bottled in
California, and is merely a cheap grade of red wine, with
enough drugs in it to make it nominally a tonic. Those
drugs change it from a mere low-grade wine to a demon-
haunted liquor. It never hits you twice the same way, and
will eventually affect your heart. Pay no attention to the
amount of alcohol stamped on the label; it varies from
bottle to bottle. I have drunk three bottles and gotten no
more cock-eyed than I have with half a bottle on another
occasion. If you keep it cold it tastes slightly better,
but when it’s hot it has a more lethal kick.
(CL2.383-384, AM1.323-324)

In 1930, Robert E. Howard began a correspondence with H. P. Lovecraft, and in so
doing came into contact with a broader circle of pulp writers, editors, and fans. Part of
their correspondence concerned alcohol; Lovecraft was a teetotal, and like Howard had
initially approved of Prohibition, but had become convinced it was a greater evil:

Your reminiscences of alcoholic vicissitudes are certainly
colourful in the extreme—especially that of the Christmas
party which coincided so infelicitously with the bandit
raid. For my part, I’ve never been able to figure out why
people seem to find artificial paradise of alcoholic
excitation so necessary to their happiness. I’m 42—or will
be next month—and have never touched alcoholic liquor in
11

any form .... nor do I intend to. And yet I don’t feel any
dearth of colour or interest in the world around. My
imagination seems to work in a fairly satisfying way
without the aid of external impetus. I don’t see anything
at all graceful or attractive about the phenomenon of
drunkenness, but on the other hand see in it considerable
of an obstacle to the efficient administration of society.
I was a prohibitionist until I saw that the law was not
working, and I would be again if I thought there were any
feasible way of discouraging the habit of alcohol-drinking.
- H. P. Lovecraft to Robert E. Howard, 25 Jul 1932 (AM 336)

This gave rise to a lengthy reply from Howard:

Regarding liquor—or licker, as we call it in this neck of
the woods. I have no doubt that the absolute prohibition of
the stuff would make for better conditions—especially among
the upper classes, to whose ease the laborer could
contribute the time he wastes drowning his sorrows in
drink. Personally, I regret the noble experiment. I was
once an ardent prohibitionist. I liked my dram but was
willing to sacrifice my tastes for society—that is to say,
the upper classes, who are society, as far as I can make
out. Drunkenness makes for inefficiency; a drunken man
can’t contribute his best efforts toward the enrichment of
his masters. As for reasons of drunkenness, they are varied
and involved, I think. In my case they have been.

There are no doubt, men who are stimulated to the state of
exaltation you spoke of, but I think they are comparatively
few. I never found anything particularly exalting about a
drunk. In the first place, since having been repeatedly
poisoned by bad licker, I can hardly abide either the taste
or smell of even good whiskey, cognac, or wine. The stuff
almost gags me with its nauseousness. Nor can I say that I
really like the effect. It does not stimulate; it merely
clouds the mind. During the earlier stages I have fits of
jovial good-feeling, but soon follows a fierce melancholy,
intensifying a naturally moody disposition beyond the
understanding of a non-drinking man. A real drunk is
followed by sickness of soul, mind and body, a savage
disgust and a feeling of having wallowed in the filth with
hogs and vermin.

In the interests of human research, and because it is the
habit now to dissect all human habits by the medium of that
half-baked arrogant conceit known as psychology, let me go
into the winding and devious ways of drunkenness and drink.
Please forgive me if I bore you, or disgust you. The ways
of drink are fundamentally disgusting, none admits it
quicker than I.
12

I was born with, not a hunger for liquor, but with a liking
for it, and a discriminating taste for good liquor. That
was my birthright, about all the heritage my aristocratic
ancestors bequeathed me. That I threw it away is neither
their fault nor mine, but the fault of changing times and
conditions—prohibition and poverty. My grandfathers, and my
greatgrandfathers kept fine wines, brandies and whiskeys on
hand and drank regularly and moderately. They looked on a
drunken man as a thing lower than a wallowing hog—which he
often is. They drank their liquor like gentlemen and took
no harm. I came to drink mine like a beast. I have drunk
until the moon and the stars crashed in a blinding blaze in
my brain and I fell senseless. I make these remarks without
pride and without the slightest shred of shame.

Undoubtedly it is a part of my Texas heritage. Early day
Texans were much harder and fiercer drinkers than the
people of the Old South. We—my friends and I—do not drink
like our ancestors did. They took their liquors with their
meals, in friendly converse at bars, and the like. We
seldom touch it at all unless we have enough to throw us,
and then we deliberately plan our drunks, and drink hugely
and with no other end in view. Prohibition is partly
responsible. If we could get it all the time in moderate
amounts, few of us would ever really get drunk.
- Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, 9 Aug 1932
(CL2.394-395, AM 1.340-341)

The two men, though of different temperaments when it came to drink, were careful
not to insult the other, with the Texan declaring:

As for liquor as a whole—I have no use, and never had any
use, for any man or any set that expected a person to make
a swillbarrel of his belly in order to be sociable. I
certainly think no less of a man because he refuses a
drink. In fact, I was a rather rabid teetotaler at one time
of my life, and wouldn’t have taken a drink if the
president had brought it on a golden platter. Even in my
hardest drinking days, I’ve refrained from taking a drink,
because I happened to be with a non-drinking man. I have a
right to drink; the other man has a right not to drink.
That’s my attitude. I never regarded a man as priggish or
eccentric because he doesn’t drink, and I have no patience
for anyone so narrow as to look on a nondrinker in that
light.
- Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, 22 Sep 1932
(CL2.431, AM1.382)

In the early 1930s, Howard essentially seems to have indulged mostly on his trips
around the state, casually mentioning drinking during a 1932 vacation down along the
Rio Grande Valley (CL2.459), and in a 1933 trip to San Antonio (CL3.49, 52):
13

I should also beg your pardon for the drunken maunderings I
seem to have remembered sending you from San Antonio. When
I’m in drink, I ought to have sense enough to keep away
from the typewriter. I trust the contents did not prove
offensive.
- Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, Jun 1933
(CL3.87, AM2.609; cf. CL3.372)

Typing while under the influence was an occupational hazard for pulp writers, and
Howard was not immune to such dangers, as recorded in one letter:

It has been many a day since I got druniy. mYbaey tou wonde r
why I got drunle. I’ll teel youse. Today I got an invitation
fro m Kird Mashburn to visit him and E.H. Pfice i n Hp8ston
for the week end or more and I didnt have the mOney to goo.
They think I am a first clash writer and a xmart man and me
and youse knows I am nothing but a cuntry yokel with an nack
of ,aking people beoieve I airse smater than I am.

So I relcined with thankex and now no doubt they theink I am
too hie hat to viesit thdme. It is rematkable how smart men
think I am soumbodies. For instiacnk Lovexrakhft told Prijce I
was very learn4d in certain branches. I hate to meet these
really intelligent men because they think I am smarth, but the
real reaason I am broke. Itsh it not a damnued shame that yhe
for4most Texas writet shou;d be bro meke? I know I amy the
foremosth Texas writhef because Charley Cox toldsh me I was
when he was washty tyr8ntg to eucher me outf of my dough zuch
as I hafme is not not much. He wanted me to signe a contrackth
for one year or more and siadi I was the foremoste writher of
Texas but I gid not gicvien him the contrackht.

So now I gu4sse he is nmy enemity as well as others. The paoc
ist turnt on me at last to renf me but I do not give a damengh
as I as brokem anyhowru. But I am too damneht drunkiteh to
caretehidash. Me and Pink has ddrunl beer all evening it being
gooc beer. You know, Cladye, I have been reading Shajepshere
lately and thinjk Prince Henry which was Henry the Fifghth was
a dirty swine to turn off Good old Sir John Falstifaff, the
on.y human chatacte Shakeperezes ever creaged.

If I mete King Henry in hell I will swinge his hides.
Judasses, I am drunkeI! Yiu know Clyde, I have been thinking
abiu t the swine that hit me in the head with a base balol
when I wash waorkign iin a a carnival when I was fourtenn. I
think I know who did it, and if I find him and am drunke I am
liabl w to knock the hellze out of him. I know he didnt mean
anything personal aboyt it, but he minht have blinded me with
his damerfooloery.
14

I have druno only ten bootlese of beers of but I am drunk.
Will you answer my letter or swill I swinge your hide in hell?

Commnend me to king Hnery the fifith because I am drurnksemth.
- Robert E. Howard to Tevis Clyde Smith, Mar 1932
(CL2.317-318)

Tevis Clyde Smith, however, was of the opinion that “[...] he wrote while sober,
reserving alcohol for off from work hours.” (SFP 255)

Texas ratified the repeal of the 18th amendment in September 1933; Prohibition would
finally end nationwide on 5 December 1933, dry laws devolving to the local level. As
Howard put it:

Well, the state went wet by a much smaller margin than I’d
expected. Central Texas, from east to west, proved to be a
dry stronghold. Cross Plains went wet, but the county went
dry. However, it’s only about fifty miles to the nearest
wet town 2, and practically all South Texas went wet with a
bang.
- Robert E. Howard to August Derleth, 4 Sep 1933 (CL3.103)

Unlike Lovecraft, August Derleth was no teetotaler, and Howard apparently felt freer
with his views and experiences to the Wisconsinite. Legalization encouraged Howard in
his drinking, though the distance he had to drive irked him:

This confounded county went dry, and though it’s only fifty
miles to the nearest oasis, I’ve been too busy and short of
cash to make many trips. I’ve only made one, in fact,
bringing back a case of mixed beer, which I finished in
quick order with the aid of a couple of unregenerate
companions. Not much kick in this 3.2 stuff (I don’t
believe I could drink enough to get soused on it) but it’s
damned good to the palate. Especially after the muck I’ve
been swigging for years; the stuff I made myself was always
pure, but sometimes it tasted like hell. And was erratic in
alcoholic content, running anywhere from fifteen to forty-
five per cent. Though in all my life I’ve gotten sick on
beer—even that muck—only once. But I made up for that with
rotten whiskey and green wine—gagh! I remember once a
couple of fellows and I finished a gallon of the latter out
on a lonely ranch in the hills one night. One of them was
just getting over being poisoned on rot gut whiskey and
couldn’t drink much, and the other passed out in a hurry,
so I drank by far the greater part of that gallon over a
short period of time—Judas T. Iscariot, it was awful stuff.

2
Probably Ballinger, which is about 50 miles as the crow flies to the southwest, “Ballinger lies about seventy miles
southwest of Cross Plains, an old town that has a romantic and sometimes violent past. The county is dry but the
town is wet [...]” (CL3.234, AM2.780) Possibly Stephenville, TX, which is about fifty miles east from Cross Plains and
county seat of Erath County, cf. CL3.387-388, AM2.905.
15

No light wine business about it; I’d be afraid to guess how
much alcohol was in it. Enough to ultimately knock me on my
neck. But before I toppled there was, as the poet says, a
sound of revelry by night, mingled with occasional sounds
of strife and some picturesque profanity. I was never a
runner, but when the jug was nearly empty I became inspired
with the idea that I could run, and challenged the more
sober member of the party to a footrace, myself to be
handicapped by carrying the tallest man there on my
shoulders—a strapping fellow over six feet tall. I was
doing pretty good and actually leading my opponent when I
missed my footing in the starlight and went heels over head
in a tangle of stones. The man I was carrying tumbled off
my shoulders as I fell and I landed on his belly; but being
even drunker than I was, it harmed him not at all. If he’d
been sober it would probably have broken his neck. [...]
Oh, well, I didn’t intend to bore you with all these
alcoholic reminiscences. Wild drunks are nothing to brag
about; I’m not proud of them; yet I am unable to work up
the slightest shame or remorse about them.
- Robert E. Howard to August Derleth, Oct 1933
(CL3.133-134)

Howard was far from alone in his indulgence, and demand was such that in the
months following the end of Prohibition, the supply of beer and similar potables hadn’t
yet had time to age properly. The result was product which was not much better than
it had of been prior, a fact which the Texan quickly realized:

I had intended guzzling some good legal whiskey, but never
got around to it. We drank some beer, of course, but it’s
not the right time of year for beer. 3 The blasted stuff is
still green, too. It’s hard to get ripe beer right now.
People lap it up so fast it hasn’t got time to get ripe. Of
course, I haven’t tried it all, but that’s been my
experience so far. I’ve drunk only Prima, Budweiser, Pearl,
Old Heidelberg, Schlitz, Rheingold, Savoy, Sterling, Blue
Ribbon, Fox, Country Club, Atlas Special, Jax, and
Superior. None of it was as good as the Sabinas I used to
drink in Old Mexico. I understand that company is going to
move their brewery to San Antonio, and I hope they do. That
was mighty good stuff.

Is whiskey legal in Wisconsin now? Texas is still dry, as
far as the heavier beverages go, but I’m hoping it will be
voted wet before long. Liquor is still too high, when you
have to pay medicinal prices for it. Of course the liquor
business, like many other things, has been debauched. Half
the whiskey you get—or at least a big percent of it—is
little more than colored water. The good stuff isn’t

3
Many beers were traditionally brewed seasonally; bock was often brewed in the winter and drunk in the spring.
16

ripened, either. Whiskey ought to be well aged, just like
wine, though not so long, of course. If saloons ever come
back like they used to be, I’m going to try to open one in
some good town. Though I suppose the game will never be
what it once was. Government taxes, for one thing, are
going to knock the profits to hell.
- Robert E. Howard to August Derleth, Dec 1933 (CL3.153)

Several of the beers named were not produced before the end of Prohibition, which
suggests that Howard went on something of a tasting spree and wasn’t in much
position to comment on folks not waiting until the beer is “ripe.”

Howard’s drinking was still largely recreational and social, one writing “I don’t like to
drink by myself” (CL3.356, AM2.875), and most of the drinking in his letters involve
holidays and football games, at which time he and his friends would go on occasional
binges, such as St. Patrick’s Day 1934:

We saw a movie and leg-show, and, which is the natural
custom for hillmen finding themselves in a city of the rich
plains, we proceeded to tank up on all the drinkables in
view. I don’t know just how much beer, bock beer, ale and
whiskey we lapped up, but I know I drank a great deal more
than my friend. Whether it was mixing the drinks, or the
amount of them, or drinking them on an almost empty
stomach, or a little of all these factors I don’t know, but
I do know that I got drunker than I’ve been in years. He
was pretty well lit, but I was soused to the ears. It was
the first time in well over a year that I had been really
stewed. We didn’t carry out the hill country custom of
engaging in bloody combat with equally intoxicated
strangers. But by the time we got back to Brownwood that
night, I, at least, was doubtful of my ability to hit the
floor with an ordinary hat, though I was still able to walk
a straight line without staggering. That was the drunkest I
ever was, without actually passing clean out. Driving back
to Cross Plains through the hills the next morning, early,
I was still aware of the amount and quality of the booze I
had guzzled. That whiskey must have been pure poison.
- Robert E. Howard to August Derleth, March 1934 (CL3.203)

Despite such occasional revels, Howard asserted “My hard drinking days are over—
have been over for some years.” (CL3.218, AM2.768) and indeed his later letters tend
to focus on the quality of the booze more than the quantity or the alcoholic content,
and he seems to have had frequent dry spells. On 8 April 1934, E. Hoffmann Price
passed through Cross Plains on their way from Oklahoma to California; according to
Price at the time Howard claimed not to drink hard liquor:

He explained, “The lowest bastard I knew in a number of
fair sized counties foes for whiskey and tobacco, so to
show my contempt for him and all his breed of stinkers, I
turn down drinking and smoking.” (BOD 73)
17

Callahan County held a referendum on 21 April 1934 making 3.2% beer legal:

We had a county election for beer, and we advocates of
personal liberty steam-rollered our opponents in
magnificent fashion. Beer now flows freely in Cross Plains,
and to make it better yet, adjoining counties to the east,
west and south went dry, which gives the trade of their
thirsty citizens to Callahan County.
- Robert E. Howard to August Derleth, 30 May 1934
(CL3.212, cf. 218, AM2.768)

In June 1934, Robert E. Howard and his friend Truett Vinson took a trip into west
Texas, and over the state line into New Mexico to visit Carlsbad Cavern and the sites of
the Lincoln County War. At El Paso, 500 miles from Cross Plains, they crossed the
Border into Ciudad Juárez:

The tequila was all right, but the beer (Moctezuma 6.50 %)
wasn’t properly ripened. But we found a treasure on the
Texas side—an old time bartender who knew how to draw a
McGinty as it should be drawn. Schlitz 4.50, and damned
good, too. El Paso is wide open, although Texas is supposed
to be a dry state, except for 3.2 beer. Wetter than New
Mexico, because we had to buy it by the bottle there, and
in El Paso they sell it across the bar, any way you want
it. In San Antonio too, now, I understand; haven’t been
south since beer came back. They’re selling 4% Budweiser in
Cross Plains now, but it’s bitter as the gall of the Devil.
Best beer I got hold of that whole trip was ABC, made in
California.
- Robert E. Howard to August Derleth, Jun 1934 (CL3.214)

Howard had a great fondness for the McGinty, a large-capacity glass used in some El
Paso bars, 20 or 21 ounces, for those who preferred volume as a quality unto itself.
(CL3.214n244) Harry Mitchell’s Mint Bar (or Mint Cafe) was a particular staple of
Juarez; but when Prohibition ended the proprietor Harry Mitchell crossed the Border
and organized the Harry Mitchell Brewing Company. It appears Robert E. Howard was
acquainted with this particular watering hole. (CL3.337) Howard’s travelogue of the
trip in his letters to Lovecraft are often punctuated by the two Texans’ exploits; some
samples of which include:

Vinson didn’t hit the bottle with his usual vigor. And
after all, I didn’t drink a great deal, myself, six or
seven bottles of lager, bock and ale, and perhaps half a
pint of whiskey, not enough of either to induce a real bat;
but whether it was mixing the drinks, or the fact that a
long time had passed since I had indulged, anyway, the fact
remains that I got on a roaring drunk, the biggest I’d been
on in years. In fact, it had been years since I’d been
soused.
- Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, Jul 1934
(CL3.233-234, AM2.779)
18

Pausing only long enough for Vinson to buy a bottle of
whiskey, and for me to tank up on gin and 6% beer, we sped on
to the Cavern, twenty-six miles west of the town of Carlsbad.
(CL3.236, AM2.781)

We drove around awhile, made a brief exploration of what is
politely known as “the red light district”, and of course
imbibed some. I tanked up on tequila and beer; Vinson stuck
to beer, and we both found it disappointing—Moctezuma 6.5%
and not ripe enough to suit my taste. We came back across the
river and located a likely saloon and did our heavy drinking
there. Schlitz 4.5%, big McGintys of it, and drawn by an old
time bartender that knew his business, which means a lot. I
tanked up on it and on Baccardi rum, and Vinson did his part
manfully as far as the beer was concerned […] a kid sold me a
bottle of ABC beer, made in California and the best beer I
ever drank in my life. Every joint in El Paso handled it, and
I’d been passing it up in my ignorance. And Madeira Valley is
as far east as I found it. (CL3.240-241, AM2.785)

There it was my fullest intention of getting gloriously lit;
I’ve always heard that in those high altitudes liquor is
unusually potent. But I reckon it was because I ate a big
supper. Anyway, I filled myself right up to the chin with
high-powered beer and all it did was to make me drowsy. By
the time I realized that I couldn’t hold enough beer to make
me loop-legged, I was so full that if I had drunk any whiskey
or tequila it would have made me sick. So I gave it up in
disgust. But while we were tanking who should arrive, with a
gust of exuberance and a reek of alcohol, our hilarious
friends from Carrizozo. They purchased beer in bottles and
sallied forth, their vigor apparently undiminished, and where
they went from there I don’t know, for we saw them no more,
though it wouldn’t have surprized me if we had run into them
in El Paso.
- Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, Jul 1935
(CL3.354-355, AM2.874)

I’d drunk nothing but muscatel wine and beer throughout the
whole trip, and was in a mood to do some fancy swigging, but
Vinson said he didn’t feel like it, so I drank only a whiskey
sour, a Harry Mitchell Special McGinty and a glass of
Burgundy wine, and we went to the shows. I thought after the
shows he might feel more festive, but all he wanted to do was
hit the hay, which he did, and I sallied forth to a beer
garden 4 alone. But I don’t like to drink by myself, so I only
downed a gin fizz and a bottle of ABC, and came back and went
to bed myself. (CL3.355-356, AM2.874-875)

4
The biergarten was introduced by German immigrants: an outdoor area where alcohol and food are served, as
opposed to an indoor saloon or tavern; and was often attached to a brewery or beer hall.
19

After this, Howard seems to have largely abstained for quite a while, although his next
binge would make up for it:

I didn’t even have anything to drink Christmas, but a few
weeks later I more than made up for it. In fact I got on
the biggest bat I was ever on in my life. It sneaked up on
me, too, so to speak, for when I started out I had no
intention of anything more than a mild souse. It was the
first time I’d been lit for about eleven months. But my
jags are few and very far between. A friend and I started
out for a county-seat in a county to the south of here, and
I took on a fair cargo of beer before we left Cross Plains.
On the way we destroyed about a pint of hill-country rot-
gut, and when we got to our destination we fell in with
some friends and got a pint of bottled-in-bond which three
of us lapped up in short order, I drinking most of it. Then
we got a couple more pints, which quickly followed the
others, and from that point my recollections are very hazy.
I know that we were all soused to the hilt, and that one of
the party, a six-foot-one, 220 pound giant, went on such a
tear as not even the hill-country often witnesses. He
smashed all the glass-ware he could get his hands on, he
shot the panels out of the doors, cracked a few windows,
threw a few slugs through the light bulbs, and altogether,
shot up the place pretty thoroughly. He was on the damndest
roaring tear I ever saw. I have a vague recollection of
coming to grips with him, but how or why I don’t remember.
I do know that during the melee I heaved him bodily off his
feet, but before I could throw him, just as I got him on my
shoulders, all the liquor got in my legs and they buckled,
and we came down on the floor together with a crash that
must have shaken the roof, and nearly shattered my knee. I
limped for a month. And from the way I felt the next day,
somebody must have tried to stave in my ribs with a gun-
butt some time or other during the revel.

I always maintained that a drunken man knew what he was
doing, if he was able to stand and walk; admitting that he
probably didn’t give a hang, still I believed he was aware
of his actions. I based that belief on my own experiences,
up to the time of the bat just described. I must admit I’m
wrong. I don’t have the slightest recollection of many of
the things I’ve been told I did after the third or fourth
pint. They say that the aforesaid giant and I, after the
smoke cleared away, sallied forth to visit a young lady,
that we got into the wrong front yard, and that I got sick.
And that my companion, when the family who owned the yard
objected, invited the entire clan to come out of the house
and get the hell beat out of them. I don’t remember
anything about it, nor was I aware of what was going on, or
what I was doing at the time. I don’t remember my bellicose
20

friend kicking down anybody’s front door—as they say he
did, but whose or why or when I haven’t the slightest idea—
and I don’t remember the young lady whom we had started to
visit in the first place coming out and making peace and
getting us started back to the place we’d come from. They
say I was walking straight, without a stagger, was speaking
plainly and apparently intelligently, didn’t seem to be
unusually drunk. But the plain fact was that I was drunker
than I ever was in my life, that I was utterly without
knowledge of what I was doing, and that I can’t remember at
all, the incidents just enumerated. I was, in fact,
unconscious, yet I was walking, moving about, laughing,
taking part in the conversation and in every way acting
like a man in full possession of his faculties! There’s
something for psychologists to explain.
- Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, Jan 1935
(CL3.300-301, AM2.836-837)

What Howard describes is an alcohol-induced blackout—amnesia caused by a sudden
increase in blood alcohol level; the brain’s long-term memory storage being impaired,
but short-term memory being unaffected, allowing them to talk and act like normal, as
Howard did. This was apparently the Texan’s first blackout, and he does not record
any others. This incident, however, does not seem to have greatly impacted the
Texan’s drinking. Given the fact that Cross Plains prohibited the sale of alcohol, often
involved travel:

I well remember the last riot we went on before [Tevis
Clyde Smith] got married; he, Tyson, Vinson and I started
to go somewhere to a movie, or some other innocent pastime,
but we started drinking whiskey, and that called for beer,
and along about midnight we found ourselves in a den of
iniquity in a county-seat town about fifty miles east of
here. The beer was punk and the girls were worse—well,
there was one I remember with pleasure, a blond with a
figure like—well, no matter.
- Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, 5 Dec 1935
(CL3.387-388, AM2.905)

One such revel coincided with a visit by E. Hoffmann Price and his wife:

The town [Brownwood] where the game was played seems far
more tolerant of drunks than it used to be. [Lindsey]
Tyson, [Dave] Lee and I started lickering up almost as soon
as we got out of Callahan County, and it was damned good
whiskey. By the time we got to our destination we were
rolling them high, wide and handsome. We stopped alongside
the road once, I seem to remember, and got into some kind
of a conflict, just in fun, of course, rough humor born of
alcohol, but it probably looked real to the uninitiated,
what with lurid profanity and the brandishing of weapons,
because I remember a medley of shocked feminine screams as
21

a car full of Eastern tourists whizzed past us. I remember
forgetting my coat in a cafe and going back after it and
upsetting the hat stand it was hanging on with a loud crash
when I jerked it off. The cafe was crowded and everybody
looked around which would have embarrassed me in sober
moments but undaunted I hauled out my wallet and announced
loudly that I would pay for any damage I did, but the
management refused payment, although the stand was damaged.
Which is why I say the town is more tolerant than of yore.
Well, the game was a scoreless tie, which is an
abomination, and after it we spent some time in trying to
locating a now married friend [Tevis Clyde Smith] with
which we all boozed freely in by-gone days, hoping he’d
have some liquor on hand, but didn’t find him—possibly
because none of us knew where he lived. It is a most
peculiar experience, full of liquor and hunting somebody at
night without having the slightest idea of where to look
for him. When I got home, late that night, the Prices had
arrived, and Ed, after waiting up for me for hours, had at
last retired, so my drunk did me out of a few more hours of
very enjoyable conversation. He had brought me a bottle of
sherry wine and a bottle of Aguardiente from Juarez, and as
I had provided a case of beer beforehand, we didn’t lack
for liquid entertainment.
- Robert E. Howard to August Derleth, 1 Nov 1935
(CL3.372 cf. 387-388, AM2.904-905)

Howard would not have many more such revels; and he seems to have taken
near the end of his life to trying cocktails (CL3.439, 460) at home, rather than
out boozing with friends. Perhaps the last such binge happened in early 1936:

I’ve been going through Fredericksburg, off and on, for
many years, and I don’t think it’s changed a bit. My
friend, Tyson, and I found just about all the different
kinds of liquor a man could think about, and I’ll admit my
mouth watered and I cursed the poverty which kept me from
indulging my epicurean tendencies. It looked like almost
every other joint was a beer bar or a package house. As
usual, we aroused no enthusiasm in the citizens; even when
they took our money they did it with a suspicious, almost
sullen air—most of them, that is; some were cordial enough—
with which they favor most outlanders. I can understand
their viewpoint, in way, for of all the white races
represented in Texas, the Anglo-Americans of old pioneer
stock are by far the most turbulent and belligerent. Not
that we gave a damn; we started sampling the terrific beer
they sell there, with our steak dinner, and what with that
and some remarkably good whiskey, by the time we were ready
to start north again, some hours later, we were totally
indifferent to racial differences and prejudices. In fact,
I seem to remember, when we stopped at a beer joint a few
22

miles out for another drink, of using my scanty knowledge
of German to convince the barman that I was a Prussian, and
I must have succeeded, somehow, for he immediately thawed
out and deluged me with a flood of conversation, directed
mainly at the Mexican brewers who bring down the price of
beer, and the three of us had an enjoyable time guzzling
Texas Pride and cussing the corporations. I don’t know when
I ever had a more hilarious souse. It didn’t last long; I
was sober by the time we got into West Texas again, but it
was a peach while it lasted. A sordid statement, no doubt;
but in the interests of honesty I must admit that of all
the so-called pleasures of life, drink, food and women are
about the only ones I find completely satisfying. And that
includes the intellectual joys.
- Robert E. Howard to August Derleth, 15 Apr 1936
(CL3.433-434)

One reason for Howard’s trip to
Fredericksburg was to acquire a type of wine
that his mother liked. (CL3.432, 460) Hester
Jane Ervin Howard, long suffering from
tuberculosis, was on a terminal decline in
1936, and though Robert E. Howard was
selling regularly to the pulps, her health was
frequently on his mind during his last years,
and his work disrupted by many long trips to
spas and sanitariums for her treatment.
When he was finally informed of her
imminent demise,
the Texan took his
own life. By all
accounts, Howard
was sober the day of
his suicide.

(Right) Source:
CPR 6 Apr 1934 (1).

(Above) Detail of drawing of Robert E. Howard with ankle flask by Katherine Preece for
the November 1929 issue of The Junto. Caption: "Idea comes from tourists attempting to
cross from Mexico with liquid refreshments. The contents are of local origin, as, no doubt,
Mr. Howard can testify."
Source: The Last Celt 383.
23

Robert E. Howard, Mixologist
I’ve learned to mix a dozen or so new drinks (CL3.460)

During a relatively short life, Robert E. Howard became acquainted with a rather wide
variety of alcoholic drinks. He was not particularly well-situated for learning the finer
points of alcohol, much less mixed drinks: he came of age in a dry town in a dry
county in a dry state in a dry country, and spent the better part of his life in rural
Texas, far away from the more exotic or refined liquors or the more sophisticated
points of mixing drinks. Yet he became, in his own way, something of a mixologist.

Initially, the Texan’s interest in mixing drinks was due to necessity: the addition of
fruit juices or soda pop could help cover the taste and smell of bad liquor, making
palatable rot-gut and home-brew (or, as the case occasioned, Jamaica ginger). In this,
Howard’s experience as a soda jerk probably proved invaluable hands-on training.
Later in life, especially after the repeal of Prohibition, and as he traveled more widely
and bellied up to more bars, Howard seems to have greater appreciation for the skills
of old-time bartenders, and actively pursued new drink experiences and knowledge of
mixed drinks with friends or in cocktail-books. At home, he took a particular joy in
applying this knowledge and pursuing his own tastes:

You ought to see the mint bed just west of the kitchen
window. I believe it makes the best juleps in the world. My
method of making mint juleps is unconventional, but they
satisfy me, and I’m not trying to please anybody else, as I
once profanely told a Kentuckian who criticized my
technique. I find a bit of crushed mint in whiskey sours
and certain kinds of high-balls adds a great deal to the
taste.
- Robert E. Howard to August Derleth, 9 May 1936 (CL3.439)

Many of Howard’s letters and stories contain references to a number of different types
of alcohol, cocktails, and cocktail-ingredients, though he seldom goes into great detail
about any particular type of alcohol, and never provides any actual recipes. This book
discusses the different alcoholic drinks mentioned in Howard’s letters and stories,
illustrated by a selection of quotes, and by using contemporary sources, provides
recipes for the cocktails and mixed drinks he mentions.

I found him the day before beer became legal in Texas, so I
named him Bebe, which stands for B.B. which in turn means,
“Before Beer”. (CL3.146-147)

After a while about all the Gaels there were had come to
Ireland or Britain. They were tall, gaunt men, great
drinkers of beer which they brewed from hops, I think [...]
(CL1.77)

Water’s a snare and delusion. I drunk water all day yesterday,
and look what it done to me! I don’t want to see no water no
more, again.
- “The Apache Mountain War” (ABE1.198)
24

Measures, Ingredients, & Recipes
All of the recipes given in the succeeding sessions are taken from contemporary
sources that are in the public domain. The measures during Prohibition were not
always standardized between bartenders or bartending measurement manufacturers,
and there was much short-changing of measures and watering-down of liquor, so
consider these approximate. The measures have been updated to include metric
equivalents (rounded for convenience).

Term Imperial (U.S.) Metric

Glass (double shot) 4 fl. oz. 120 ml

Wine glass (shot, jigger) 2 fl. oz. 60 ml

Pony Glass (half jigger) 1 fl. oz. 30 ml

Tablespoon (3 teaspoons) 1/2 fl. oz. 15 ml

Teaspoon 1/6 fl. oz. 5 ml

Dash 1/32 fl. oz. 1 ml

Robert E. Howard had relatively easy access to many common ingredients. It is worth
pointing out a few differences between the ingredients as Howard would have
experienced them and what we have today:

● Ice would have been block ice, which would be individually broken, crushed,
shaved, etc. according to needs and tastes, not ready-made ice cubes.
● Eggs were typically much smaller in the 1920 and 30s; it is recommended to
use small eggs in mixing recipes that call for them.
● Fruit juices would likely have been mostly fresh-squeezed citrus from south
Texas rather than canned or bottled, the latter of which today are mixed juices
with added sugar and flavoring agents; it is recommended that the recipes be
made with fresh-squeezed fruit where juice is called for.
● Soda water refers to either seltzer or club soda—bartender’s choice unless
specified, and would have been bottled for home cocktails, though some
drinkers ordered “set ups” at soda shops and surreptitiously added their own
liquor from a hip flask.
● Sugar should generally be powdered sugar, which dissolves more quickly;
where lump sugar is called for, use sugar cubes (1 cube is approx. 1 tsp. or 5 g
loose sugar).
● Syrup is made by combining equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan on the
stove, heat at low temperature until it thickens to about the consistency of
honey.
● Bitters and liqueurs are common in cocktail recipes, yet Howard rarely
mentions them, and they may not have been immediately available to him at
home; many period recipes may also call for brands that are no longer extant.
The recipes in this book are restricted to using Angostura Bitters and sherry
bitters (orange bitters can be substituted in a pinch), and bénédictine liqueur.

I never made any friends here until I began to drink hard and
promiscuous. (CL3.489)
25

Aguardiente
He had brought me a bottle of sherry wine and a bottle of
Aguardiente from Juarez, and as I had provided a case of
beer beforehand, we didn’t lack for liquid entertainment.
(CL3.372)

[...] he has had too many glasses of aguardiente!”
- “Fists of the Revolution” (FI4.271)

Aguardiente (Spanish: “firewater”) is the generic term for distilled spirits made out of
whatever ingredients are locally available, and is used throughout the Spanish
diaspora in the Americas, similar to brandy. Today, many such spirits will be clear,
and have a taste profile similar rum (aguardiente de caña), and in a broad sense
covers tequila, mezcal and any other distilled beverage. Most Americans outside of
Hispanic communities would have no experience of aguardiente before Prohibition, but
after the ratification of the Volstead Act thousands fled to Mexican border towns with
their open saloons, such as Ciudad Juárez, to slake their thirsts.

Aguardiente cocktails depend on what the spirit actually is, substituting for brandy or
rum as appropriate, any flavoring agent that has been added, and the alcoholic
content (typically 30-60 proof). A typical cocktail that works well with most styles of
aguardiente, and served in the better Mexican bars of the period—or potentially mixed
at home by Robert E. Howard and E. Hoffmann Price, from ingredients easily at
hand—would be the aguardiente sour.

Aguardiente Sour

1 glass of aguardiente [4 fl. oz./120 ml]
1 teaspoonful sugar [5 ml]
Juice of 1 lemon

Shake well, strain into wineglass, pour a little
soda water on top, decorate with fruit.

Source: Modified brandy sour, 1CC 25.

Source: CPR 23 Jan 1925 (2).
I sat and my life passed before me in a long chain. The whiskey
had cleared from my head and I was perfectly clearminded. Really,
I had not taken a drink that day. I saw myself as I had always
been, a failure. Battering against a high steel wall and only
pulping my hands; clambering nearly to the top of accomplishment,
until the rungs of desire gave way beneath my clutching fingers
and hurtled me down again. (CL1.62)

And drinkin’. Taint no harm to drink beer and whisky ‘cause I
have drunk ‘em and I like ‘em but anybody that drinks wine is on
the way to damnation whether they be man or woman. (CL1.13)
26

Beer
My favorite drink is good beer, which is a startling
departure from the ways of my ancestors. (CL3.138)

My ancestors scorned that beverage, but to me nothing can
compare to a foaming stein of the real stuff, so cold that
it cuts your throat as it goes down. I don’t know where I
got my liking for it. The Irish don’t drink it much, and it
was practically unknown among the higher classes of the Old
South. Maybe it’s because of my thin strain of Danish
blood! Or perhaps because of the Germanic tinge of my
environments. (CL2.397, AM1.342)

Give me good beer and good food, and plenty of both, and
the ruling classes will have no revolt out of me.
(CL2.499, AM1.343)

My empty skull is full of dust,
I have no beer to drink; (CL3.502)

Oh, land of dreamy legend and the good brown British ale.
- “Heritage” (EIH 42)

Drain the cup while the ale is bright,
- “Reuben’s Brethren” (CL2.94)

They fight all day and drink ale and roar their wild songs
all night.
- “The Phoenix on the Sword” (CC1.12)

Beer is an alcoholic drink made from the fermentation of starch, typically malted
barley, although maize (corn), wheat, rice, and even starchy vegetables like pumpkins
are all potential sources or beer. One of the most ancient alcoholic drinks known to
man, it is also one that has seen tremendous refinement in style and ingredients from
the old days—and, of course, it was Robert E. Howard’s favorite alcoholic drink.

There are many varieties of beer, and Howard familiarized himself with several,
especially ale, lager, bock, and porter. Most beer consumed today, as in Howard’s
time, is flavored with hops, a bitter botanical that helps to cut the sweetness and acts
as a preservative. Ale is an older style of beer that uses a warm fermentation method,
and is either unhopped or lightly hopped; the result is typically sweet and sticky,
unless a bittering agent is added, and is typically dark and allowed to age longer.
Lager is a beer made with a cool fermentation method and cool storage (“lagering”),
often in a cellar for home brewing, invented by German beermakers in the 19th
century its use spread with refrigeration. Pilsener (also pilsner) is a type of pale lager
that originated in the city of Plzeň in what is today the Czech Republic, while Bock
beer is a type of strong lager, and is traditionally sweet and with a higher alcoholic
content. Porter is a dark beer invented in England in the 18th century; a strongly-
hopped beer made with brown malt. Malt liquor is a beer with a high alcoholic
content (usually greater than 5% alcohol by volume), often achieved with adjuncts;
some of what Howard drank falls under this category, though he never used the term.
27

Beer production in the United States prior to Prohibition was incredibly varied;
numerous regional brands dominated local markets, and local breweries were
common. German immigrants came to dominate the American brewing industry, and
free from European regulation and standards German-style lagers and pilseners
became the basis for American lager, a lightly-hopped style of beer noted for its mild
flavor, as well as the use of adjuncts such as rice and maize in addition to barley.

During Robert E. Howard’s lifetime, however, beer still tended to have something of its
regional character; brewing was still largely a seasonal activity, dependent on access
to grain and hops, and much depended on the yeast, the quality of the water, the
temperature, filtering, and how long and where the beer was stored to age (if at all).
Beer is inherently perishable, and most of the professionally-made beer in the United
States that had been sold legally before Prohibition would have had to be consumed
within a few months; so for most of Howard’s adult life the beer he drank would have
been 0.5% near-beer, home-brew, Mexican-made, or illicitly made in surviving
breweries. If Howard ever partook of imported beer in Mexico or “spiked” beer (near
beer fortified by the addition of alcohol), he never mentions it.

ABC
[...] a kid sold me a bottle of ABC beer, made in
California and the best beer I ever drank in my life. Every
joint in El Paso handled it, and I’d been passing it up in
my ignorance. And Madeira Valley is as far east as I found
it. (CL3.240-241, AM2.785)

The Aztec Brewing Company was founded in Mexicali, Mexico in 1921 during
Prohibition, but after repeal in 1933 moved north to San Diego, California; it was
bought out by a competitor in 1948 and the brand retired in 1957. Their regular
product was a pale lager, Famous A.B.C. Beer, so-called because it won a gold medal
at the Exposición Ibero-Americana 1929; although it was re-formulated after the move
back to the United States. ABC was not made available in cans until 1936, so the beer
that Howard enjoyed would have been bottled, and was very popular during his
lifetime. The brand was revived as a craft brew in 2011.

Ancient Beer
Then we all sat around the fires and gnawed meat-bones, and
drank a fiery concoction they brewed from wild grain, and
the wonder is that the feast did not end in a general
massacre; for that liquor had devils in it and made maggots
writhe in our brains.
- “The Valley of the Worm” (CS 265)

Robert E. Howard had a very basic understanding of the history of beer and beer-
making, probably owing more to his tastes in literature than to his interest in history
or anthropology, but with the advent of Prohibition many folks took an interest in how
their ancestors had brewed beer, which resulted in articles like “Stone Age Had Booze
and Prohibition” in the May 1932 issue of Popular Science. Many wild grains are
appropriate for brewing beer, and it is not inconceivable that some industrious home-
brewer tried making a batch with Texas wild rice, buckwheat, or goatgrass.

Life is but a drunkard’s dream (CL1.140)
28

Atlas Special
The Atlas Brewing Company of Chicago, faced with Prohibition, switched to making
near-beer; brews like Atlas Special Brew that tasted like the beers of old, but had 0.5%
alcohol or less by volume. This was included among the list of beers the Texan had
sampled in a 1933 letter to August Derleth. (CL3.153)

Blatz Old Heidelberg
[...] still farther west they go in for Blatz’ Old
Heidelberg in a big way, from Midland clear to El Paso [...]
(CL3.234, AM2.780)

The Valentine Blatz Brewing Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin was yet another firm
founded by German immigrants and brewing lager and pilsener, which switched to
making near beer and other products during Prohibition. This was included among the
list of beers the Texan had sampled in a 1933 letter to August Derleth. (CL3.153)

Budweiser
They’re selling 4% Budweiser in Cross Plains now, but it’s
bitter as the gall of the Devil. 5 (CL3.214)

The name “Budweiser” comes from České Budějovice (Budweis) in the modern day
Czech Republic, famous for their pale lager, which inspired the “American lager”
brewed by the Anheuser-Busch Company of St. Louis, Missouri, though American
Budweiser adapted to a different market and tastes. Bud is bland and unadventurous,
but that may be why it is so popular. This was included among the list of beers the
Texan had sampled in a 1933 letter to August Derleth. (CL3.153)

Cairo
I’d have built a hundred sphinxes for a stein of Cairo
beer. (CL1.191)

The Cairo Brewing Company was founded by German immigrants and based out of
Cairo, Illinois in the “Little Egypt” region of Illinois, the company embraced a vague
Egyptian aesthetic for its marketing, including a stylized sphinx on the labels of its
lager. The company shut down with Prohibition.

Coors Golden Beer
My joy at discovering 6% beer (Coors’ Golden Beer, made in
Golden, Colorado) almost caused me to forgive the
inordinately high prices of everything and the abominable
sales tax levied in New Mexico. (CL3.235, AM2.781)

The Coors Brewing and Manufacturing Company, and its brewery in Golden, Colorado
survived the transition to Prohibition by producing near beer and malted milk, then
went back to producing their lager after repeal. During Howard’s lifetime, Coors was
strictly a regional brew restricted to the Southwest, including Texas, but local
restrictions on alcohol content kept Coors from being sold in many “wet” counties even
after 1933.

5
American lagers like Budweiser are typically lightly hopped, but homebrewed beer would sometimes not have
been hopped at all, which may account for Howard considering it bitter.
29

Country Club
Country Club was a pilsener (“…famous for its flavor”) brewed by the M. K. Goetz
Brewing Company of St. Joseph, Missouri. During Prohibition, Goetz switched to
making near beer, Goetz Pale, and after repeal it switched back—and even expanded
in 1936, building a new brewery in Kansas City. Goetz and Country Club were
eventually bought out by Pearl, and then Pabst, which currently uses the Country
Club brand for malt liquor. This was included among the list of beers the Texan had
sampled in a 1933 letter to August Derleth. (CL3.153)

Fox
This was included among the list of beers Robert E. Howard had sampled in a 1933
letter to August Derleth (CL3.153), however there is some question as to which exact
beer he was referring to. Most likely he referred to Fox DeLuxe or Silver Fox, lagers
produced by the Peter Fox Brewing Company of Chicago, Illinois; other possibilities
include Red Fox and Black Fox (lagers; they also made ales, porter, etc.), both
produced by the Largay Brewing Company in Waterbury, Connecticut, and Fox Head
beer (lager and ale), produced by Fox Head Waukesha Corp. of Waukesha, Wisconsin
(which, confusingly, was also sometimes connected with Fox DeLuxe). All of these Fox
beers were newly introduced to the market in 1933 after Prohibition ended; Fox
DeLuxe seems to have had the widest distribution.

Harry Mitchell’s Special Lager
I’d drunk nothing but muscatel wine and beer throughout the
whole trip, and was in a mood to do some fancy swigging,
but Vinson said he didn’t feel like it, so I drank only a
whiskey sour, a Harry Mitchell Special McGinty and a glass
of Burgundy wine, and we went to the shows.
(CL3.355-356, AM2.874)

Part of this went for a McGinty, for who could have stood
at the Bar, looking at the large picture of an urchin
voiding into the drinking water, and then ordered water
itself. (DBP 7)

The Mint Bar (or Mint Cafe) was a particular staple of Juarez; but when Prohibition
ended Harry Mitchell crossed the Border to El Paso and organized the Harry Mitchell
Brewing Company. It appears Robert E. Howard was acquainted with this particular
watering hole, as he speaks of ordering a “Harry Mitchell Special McGinty” while in El
Paso, referring to Harry Mitchell’s Special Lager. (CL3.337) The McGinty which Howard
was so fond of was a large pint glass:

“McGinty” was a term used in El Paso bars for a large-capacity glass, 20
or 21 ounces. (In 1934 most members of the El Paso Cafe Owners
Association reduced the size of their McGinties to 16 ounces, but at least
two were reported to be continuing to serve the larger glasses.) The term
is probably related to the McGinty Club, a turn-of-the-century El Paso
social and civic club, though the club itself had ceased any organized
activities by about 1905. (CL3.214n224)
[Dave Lee] and Pink and I were sitting around drinking beer
at the ice house [...] (CL2.116)
30

Heather Ale
The Picts habitually drank a smooth ale made from the
heather blossom. The fiery barley malt brewed by the Gaels
maddened them.
- “Tigers of the Sea” (SN 431)

Before hops came into wide use as a bittering agent in Scotland, heather and other
botanicals were used to flavor ale—this was leann fraoch, or heather-ale, which
featured in history and literature, and was associated with the Picts in works such as
Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Heather Ale,” which begins:

From the bonny bells of heather
They brewed a drink long-syne,
Was sweeter far then honey,
Was stronger far than wine.
They brewed it and they drank it,
And lay in a blessed swound
For days and days together
In their dwellings underground.

Howard makes a slight error here, in that he does not seem to understand that
heather ale was still brewed from barley, and that the primary difference was in the
use of heather rather than hops as the flavoring/bittering agent.

She indulged in incredible bacchanals, in which men and
women turned to ravening beasts under the influence of
native ale, dancing and sex-freedom. (CL3.475)

Homebrew
He said there was some beer aging for your arrival, though
still green at present. He wants us to go on a small beer
party, as in the old days. I don’t know whether you’ll be
able to drink home-made beer after your Mexican invasion,
but in case you feel equal to it, let me know and we’ll try
to make preparations. (CL2.223)

Homebrewing was legal before Prohibition, and many were under the
misunderstanding that it was legal during Prohibition, provided you didn’t sell it and
any other restrictions based on the state. The governing law in Howard’s home state
was Texas statute Title 4, Chapter 109, Subchapter B, §109.21, which permitted:

The head of a family or an unmarried adult may produce for the use of
his family or himself not more than 200 gallons of wine, ale, malt liquor,
or beer, per year. No license or permit is required.

While the full extent of Robert E. Howard and his friends’ experiments in homebrewing
is unknown, the question is not whether any of them could produce that much
homebrewed beer, but whether they had the constitution to choke it down. Breweries
had switched to producing malt syrups and extracts, and many recipes for beer were
widely available. Here is one such recipe which would have been within Howard’s
means to try:
31

Malted Beverages
Malted beverages, such as beer, ale, etc.,
are those obtained by fermentation of a
mixture of grains, etc., with water and
yeast. Great care must be exercised in
not adding the yeast while the mixture is
too warm, as it will thereby be killed. The
correct time is when the mixture is but
perceptibly warm. Then stir it in thoroly.

Proper filtration is the secret of a good,
sharp, clear and tasty fermented
beverage and, where called for, the liquid
should be filtered, not once, but at least
three or four times. The more the better.

A practical filter may be made from a
layer of old flannel, not colored, between
two pieces of old muslin.

Malt Syrup Beer

2 ½ pounds malt syrup. [1.1 kg]
3 ounces hops. [85 gm]
2 pounds sugar.[0.9 kg]
1 package gelatin.
1 ½ cakes fresh yeast.
5 gallons water. [19 L]

Bring water to boiling point and add 1 ½
ounces hopes, together with sugar and
malt syrup. Stir thoroly and boil 50
minutes. Add remainder of hops and boil
10 minutes longer. Strain liquid thru
cloth strainer and add gelatine. When
lukewarm add yeast, dissolved in cup of
liquid. Stir in thoroly. Cover with cloth. Allow to ferment for 3 ½ to 4 days, during
which time skim frequently. Filter liquid thru cloth filter and allow to settle.
Syphon into bottles, crimp tightly and store in dark, cool place. Ready in two
weeks.
Source: HB 13 Source: CPR 26 Oct 1923 (8).

Jax
The Jacksonville Brewing Company in Jacksonville, Florida was yet another regional
brewery founded by German immigrants, and produced a pilsner: Jax Beer. During
Prohibition it produced near beer, root beer, ginger ale, and ice cream among other
things, and is credited as the last brewery founded before Prohibition took effect and
the first to resume production once it ended. This was included among the list of beers
the Texan had sampled in a 1933 letter to August Derleth. (CL3.153)
[...] like fried liver and onions washed down with lager (CL4.46)
32

Moctezuma
The tequila was all right, but the beer (Moctezuma 6.50 %)
wasn’t properly ripened. (CL3.214)

I tanked up on tequila and beer; Vinson stuck to beer, and
we both found it disappointing—Moctezuma 6.5% and not ripe
enough to suit my taste. (CL3.240, AM2.785)

Indeed, my friend and I did most of our drinking on this
side, finding the liquor better. American beer was only 4.5
percent, but it was riper than the Moctezuma 6.5 we got on
that side. (CL2.247)

Cerveza Moctezuma was a Mexican beer crafted by the Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma
Brewery, and available in Ciudad Juárez, just across the Border from El Paso. While
usually considered a lager, the high alcohol content cited by Howard would technically
make this a malt liquor. The name of the brand was eventually changed to Cerveza
Superior, and as a lager (4.5%) is still produced today.

Pabst Blue Ribbon
One of Blatz’ main rivals in Milwaukee was the Pabst Brewing Company, whose Blue
Ribbon lager competed directly with their own for the working-class drinker. The name
of the beer came at least in part from the blue silk ribbon tied around each bottle; a
practice that was discontinued in 1916 (due to silk shortages during the war), and
later re-introduced following the end of Prohibition. This was included among the list
of beers the Texan had sampled in a 1933 letter to August Derleth. (CL3.153)

Pearl
I was in the Buckhorn Sallon in San Antonio, jest h'isting
a schooner of Pearl XXX [...] so after I’d drunk my beer
and et me a sandwich offa the free lunch counter 6 [...]
- “A Gent from the Pecos” (ABE2.299)

The Pearl Brewing Company was a homegrown Texas regional brewery; the signature
brew was a German lager, Perle, which was Americanized to Pearl, as well as another
beer called Texas Pride. During Prohibition the company switched to making a near
beer called La Perla, and various other ventures. When Prohibition was repealed, they
returned to making Pearl and Texas Pride, and eventually acquired Pabst. A Pearl beer
is still produced today, as an American-style filtered lager similar to Budweiser, and is
available in limited markets. This was included among the list of beers the Texan had
sampled in a 1933 letter to August Derleth. (CL3.153)

Prima
“Prima” (German: “excellent”) was a brand used by multiple beer brewers and
distributors, so there is some question as to which Howard was talking about. The
most likely candidate seems to be the Prima Beer lager brewed by the Independent
Brewing Association in Chicago before Prohibition; when the 18th amendment hit,
they tried to change gears by producing a nonalcoholic beverage called Primalt and

6
Before Prohibition, the “free lunch” was common in many saloons as a promotion: for the cost of one drink,
customers could help themselves to the free lunch counter. The food was often salty, encouraging more drinking.
33

Prima as a near-beer. The company merged with Bismarck Brewing when repeal came,
and went back to producing Prima. This was included among the list of beers the
Texan had sampled in a 1933 letter to
August Derleth. (CL3.153)

Rheingold
The county is dry but the town
is wet and the citizenry
favors Rheingold [...] I must
admit that my appetite had
been so whetted by the
Ballinger Rheingold that upon
our return I plunged into my
private stock of Sterling bock
(a headier drink than
Rheingold) and contrived to
demolish so much of it that I
was well soused when I
retired.
(CL3.234, AM2.780)

Rheingold is another label used by multiple
companies; the most famous Rheingold was
a regional brand established in New York
by a German Jewish immigrant family, the
Liebmanns, who specialized in dry (i.e. not
sweet) lagers. Anti-German sentiment
during WWI cut into their market share,
and during Prohibition they switched to
making lemonade and near beer. After
Prohibition, another Rheingold brand
popped up from the United States Brewing
Company of Chicago, Illinois; this seems
the more likely beer for Howard and the
Ballinger citizenry to drink.

Sabinas
None of it was as good as the
Sabinas I used to drink in Old
Mexico. I understand that
company is going to move their
brewery to San Antonio, and I
hope they do. That was mighty
good stuff. (CL3.153)
Advertisement from CPR 27 Apr 1934 (8).

Cerveza Sabinas Especial was a lager brewed by the Sabinas Brewing Company in
Sabinas, Coahuila, Mexico, which was founded by German immigrants from the
United States; when Prohibition ended, they moved across the Border and established
a brewery in San Antonio. Six years later, it became the Champion Brewing Company,
and in 1940 was bought out and re-branded as the Lone Star Brewing Company.
34

Savoy
“Savoy Special Beer” (sometimes “Savoy Special Brew”) was a lager brand produced by
the United States Brewing Company of Chicago, Illinois. The US Brewing Co. largely
shut down during Prohibition, but re-opened after repeal. This was included among
the list of beers the Texan had sampled in a 1933 letter to August Derleth. (CL3.153)

Schlitz
Schlitz 4.5%, big McGintys of it, and drawn by an old time bartender
that knew his business, which means a lot. (CL3.240-241, AM2.785)

Schlitz didn’t pay a penny for this endorsement—and probably won’t.
(CL3.524)

He ordered a stein of Schlitz [...]
- ”Iron-Clad Fists” (FI3.227)

“The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous,” Schlitz beer is a lightly-hopped American-
style lager produced by the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company of Milwaukee,
Wisconsin. Both before and after Prohibition, Schlitz was one of the preeminent beer
producers in the United States. The company and brand was eventually acquired by
Pabst, and is still being produced today. This was included among the list of beers the
Texan had sampled in a 1933 letter to August Derleth. (CL3.153)

Shandy Gaff
With a case of beer, a bottle of gin, limes, ginger ale and
grape juice near at hand, I defy the heat. (CL3.213)

A shandy was a mixed drink the combined beer with a soft drink. While Howard never
specifically mentions shandies, they likely would have made an unofficial appearance
during his days drinking beer and working as a soda jerk, and he had all the
ingredients to make one later. A typical example is a shandy gaff:

Use a large ale glass.

Fill the glass half full of old ale 7. Fill the other half with ginger ale; stir well
with a spoon, and serve.

Source: DBE 38

He told me so hisself, just before he hit me with the bung starter. 8
- “Ring-Tailed Tornado” (ABE2.284)

Sterling Bock
Sterling bock is Cross Plains’ favorite drink […] I must admit
that my appetite had been so whetted by the Ballinger
Rheingold that upon our return I plunged into my private stock
of Sterling bock (a headier drink than Rheingold) and
contrived to demolish so much of it that I was well soused
when I retired. (CL3.234, AM2.780)

7
Old Ale is allowed to ferment longer in the cask or keg.
8
A wooden mallet used to knock the bung (a wooden plug) out of a cask of beer.
35

Sterling Bock beer was manufactured in Evansville, Indiana by the Evansville Brewing
Association before Prohibition, at which point they became Sterling Products and
produced soft drinks, near beer, and malt extract. After repeal, they became Sterling
Brewers Inc. and once again began making beer. The brewery declared bankruptcy in
1997 and the brand was sold. This was included among the list of beers the Texan had
sampled in a 1933 letter to August Derleth. (CL3.153)

Superior
Prohibition closed William Pfeifer's Berlin Weiss Beer Co. in Chicago, Illinois; when the
brewery opened again in 1933, it was as the Superior Brewing Company; it’s
namesake products were Superior Beer (a lager) and Superior Ale, among others. This
was included among the list of beers the Texan had sampled in a 1933 letter to August
Derleth. (CL3.153)

Texas Pride
In fact, I seem to remember, when we stopped at a beer
joint a few miles out for another drink, of using my scanty
knowledge of German to convince the barman that I was a
Prussian, and I must have succeeded, somehow, for he
immediately thawed out and deluged me with a flood of
conversation, directed mainly at the Mexican brewers who
bring down the price of beer, and the three of us had an
enjoyable time guzzling Texas Pride and cussing the
corporations. (CL3.433-434)

The Pearl Brewing Company was a homegrown Texas regional brewery; their signature
brews were Pearl (a lager) and Texas Pride (a pilsener). During Prohibition the
company switched to making a near beer called La Perla, and various other ventures.
When Prohibition was repealed, they returned to making Pearl and Texas Pride, and
eventually acquired
Pabst.

Source:
CPR 25 May 1934 (1).
36

Brännvin
[...] betook ourselves to a place
where we couldst get some real
whiskey and not the stuff they make
in them Scandinavian countries. The
barkeep kicked at first because I
give my white bulldog, Mike, a pan-
full of beer on the floor [...]
- “The Champion of the Forecastle”
(FI2.137)

Brännvin (“burnt-wine” in Swedish) is the generic
term for distilled spirits in Sweden, encompassing
both vodka and akvavit, flavored and unflavored
spirits. Robert E. Howard doesn’t mentioned
brännvin by name, but was canny enough to know
that Scandinavian countries had their own
homegrown liquor, and took advantage of the
exotic settings of Sailor Steve Costigan’s
adventures to mention such exotic potables, at
least in passing. Brännvin was generally
unavailable in most of the United States, but in
1934 a Swedish immigrant named Carl Jeppson
in Chicago (who had made alcohol-infused
medicines during Prohibition) began selling
Malört, a brännvin heavily flavored with
wormwood and other herbal botanicals. Given
Howard’s general location down south and never
mentioning it, it is unlikely he ever tasted
brännvin, but for anyone that wants an idea of
what would have been available, Malört is still
being made today. For those daring enough to
experiment, an appropriate cocktail recipe:

Source: CPR 22 Jun 1934 (1).

Brännvin Split

Use a medium thin bar glass.

1 pony glass of brännvin. [30 ml]
1 or 2 small lumps of ice.
1 bottle of club soda.

Fill up the glass, and divide equally in two star champagne glasses.

A good bracer to start a man to business in the morning, with his pipes
cleaned, and courage under his vest.

Source: Modified brandy split, DBE 56
37

Bootleg Liquor
Maybe they all drank themselves to death. With the stuff
the people drink these days, it would not be an
impossibility. American taste in liquor has sure
degenerated - of necessity, of course. Bootleggers take no
pride in their work. When I used to work in a law-office I
saw a good deal of good whiskey, but for the past few years
it’s been getting rottener and rottener until it’s risky to
even smell a cork. The stuff don’t make men drunk; it
maddens them. (CL2.213, AM1.173)

The Volstead Act made illegal the sale of alcoholic beverages, but not without
exception, and not with any understanding of what the citizens of the United States
were willing to imbibe when legal booze was no longer available. Robert E. Howard
observed firsthand the unpalatable legal alternatives like fruit extracts, Jamaica
ginger, and wine elixirs; as well as the illegal alcohol made available through
bootleggers and moonshiners. More than a few of these potions he sampled himself,
and probably counted himself lucky not to have been seriously poisoned. Thousands
of other Americans were not so fortunate.

Canned Heat
Alternating poisons were hair-tonics, wood-alcohol and
canned heat. I’ve seen old soaks who apparently preferred
canned heat to anything else. (CL2.382, AM1.324)

Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) is a useful chemical for more than inebriation; as a solvent and
a flammable substance it has uses in any number of products, including hair tonics,
perfumes, colognes, and aftershaves, etc. Those desperate enough for a drink could—
and did—prove that these were not completely toxic. A similar chemical, in taste,
smell, and properties is methanol (methyl alcohol, wood alcohol); however, while both
ethanol and methanol are central nervous system depressants, the metabolization of
methanol causes the formation of formic acid, which can cause blindness and
acidosis, and methanol is highly toxic even in small amounts.

In products like canned heat (often known under the brand name Sterno), ethanol is
“denatured” by the addition of methanol; the production of denatured alcohol and its
use in products was legal during Prohibition specifically because it rendered those
products undrinkable...or at least, it should have. The desperate, the ignorant, and
the greedy who were unaware of—or did not care about—the toxicity of methanol
could and did consume it, or served it to others. The dangers and attraction were
summed up in Tommy Johnson’s “Canned Heat Blues” from 1928:

Crying, canned heat, canned heat, mama, crying, sure, Lord, killing me.
Crying, canned heat, mama, sure, Lord killing me.
Takes alcorub to take these canned heat blues.

“Alcorub” is rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol); which is likewise toxic when ingested,
though less so than methanol.

Oh, ye who dine on evil wine
- “Skulls” (WOD 1)
38

Force
Right after prohibition came in, everybody drank a tonic
known as Force, which bore a picture on its label of Samson
tearing the lion—and its effect was similar [...] (CL2.382,
AM1.323-324)

Patent medicines containing more than one-half of
one-percent alcohol were exempt from the Volstead
Act provided they were “unfit for use for beverage
purposes,” but this did not stop the proliferation or
consumption of such “medicines.” Force Tonic
“The Master Rebuilder,” produced by the United
Pharmacal Company, was a typical nostrum,
advertised as a digestive aid, mild laxative, and cure Advertisement from
for various diseases and conditions; it was 20% CPR 25 Nov 1927 (3).
alcohol (other ingredients not listed).

Fruit Extract
After prohibition came in their favorite drink was fruit
extracts and the amount they imbibed was a caution to
behold. I used to work in a grocery store and the amount of
lemon extract etc., I’ve known some of them to buy in one
day, would startle one. (CL2.212-213, AM1.173)

Then followed a fruit extract period, until the companies
began bringing out extracts without alcoholic content. I
still recall the fervent and sincere bitter blasphemies of
staunch souls who had quaffed numbers of bottles of
extracts, before discovering their nonalcoholic nature.
(CL2.382, AM1.324)

As with patent medicines, under the Volstead Act alcohol could be legally used for
“flavoring extracts and sirups that are unfit for use as a beverage, or for intoxicating
beverage purposes.” Typical products like Symond’s Lemon Extract were advertised as
80% alcohol and sold in 2 oz. bottles, and other extracts were advertised as almost
pure alcohol.

Homemade Wine
But I made up for that with rotten whiskey and green wine—
gagh! I remember once a couple of fellows and I finished a
gallon of the latter out on a lonely ranch in the hills one
night. One of them was just getting over being poisoned on
rot gut whiskey and couldn’t drink much, and the other
passed out in a hurry, so I drank by far the greater part
of that gallon over a short period of time—Judas T.
Iscariot, it was awful stuff. No light wine business about
it; I’d be afraid to guess how much alcohol was in it.
Enough to ultimately knock me on my neck. But before I
toppled there was, as the poet says, a sound of revelry by
night, mingled with occasional sounds of strife and some
picturesque profanity. (CL3.133-134)
39

As with homemade beer, the Volstead Act contained a provision to allow for the
making of wine at home. Demand for fresh grapes shot up, and vineyards worked to
meet the demand, tearing out grapes for fine wines to plant juice varieties. Some
vintners processed wine blocks like the Vino Sano Grape Brick, which came with the
instruction to add water, but the strict warning not to add yeast and sugar and leave
in a dark place lest it ferment into wine. Other recipes were more traditional, but the
resultant product was probably poorly aged, cloudy, and with more than a little
vinegar.

Jamaica Ginger
[...] one of the party was wild drunk on beer and another
was stark crazy on raw Jamaica ginger, with the obsession
that he was a werewolf. One of the bunch was a young German
who didn’t drink, and wasn’t used to the violent drunks
common to Americans; he backed up against a wall and I
couldn’t help laughing at his expression when the Jamaica
victim began to smash the furniture, gallop about on all-
fours and howl like a mad-dog. (CL2.213, AM1.173-174)

Then came the boom-days of Jamaica ginger, which exceeded
all epochs before and since. I doubt not that even now the
mad-houses are filled with the gibbering votaries of jake.
Legislation interfered with jake, and the makers of white
mule, red eye and rot-gut came into their own. (CL2.382,
AM1.324)

They then, that is Costigan and Clive—Hubert having decided
to remain teetotal—drank Jamaica ginger weakened with Coca
Cola and orange juice, which was quite a fad among the
drunkards of that era. A more hideous concoction can
scarcely be imagined. It was like liquid fire, and anything
added to disguise the flavor only made it taste worse. They
had agreed to drink two and a half bottles apiece, but
Steve finished only half a bottle, disposing of the rest by
emptying it on the floor surreptitiously [...] Clive, more
inured to strong drink and of great will power, completed
the contents of two bottles before he went absolutely
insane. (POSR 83)

Technically a fluid extract, and in practice touted as a patent medicine, Jamaica
ginger or “jake” was advertized as being between 70% and 90% alcohol and sold by a
number of manufacturers. United States Pharmacopeia requirements called for 4%
solids in a solution of alcohol and water; the result, if pure ginger was used, was bitter
to the point of satisfying the Volstead Act’s requirements as being unsuitable for a
beverage, and the Department of Agriculture tested shipments to ensure the proper
amount of solids were present.

In 1930, clever bootleggers got around the problem by substituting the ginger with a
plasticizer (tri-ortho-cresyl phosphate) which was considered nontoxic. Unfortunately,
it was actually a neurotoxin which caused permanent paralysis and numbness in the
limbs, a condition popularly known as “jake leg” after the distinctive, floppy-footed way
40

or walking. Within months, the adulterated jake caused a serious outbreak of
paralysis, with tens of thousands of reported cases, an event which Tommy Johnson
and other blues singers immortalized in various “Jake Leg Blues.”

Howard, who experimented with Jamaica ginger in the mid-to-late 1920s before jake
went bad, was luckier than he knew.

Lyko
[...] they alternated this with another tonic known as Lyko [...]
(CL2.382, AM1.324)

Lyko, produced by the Lyko Medicine Company of Kansas City, Missouri in the early
1920s, shared many of the same basic medical claims as Force Tonic: digestive aid,
tone up the organs, and an excellent laxative. It was advertized as 23% alcohol,
although other ingredients were listed as “caffein[e], kola, phenolphthalein and
cascara sagrada.” A typical surreptitious alcoholic beverage dolled up as a patent
medicine.

Mountain Dew, Moonshine, White Lightning, White Mule, and Rot-Gut
Half the whiskey you get—or at
least a big percent of it—is
little more than colored water.
The good stuff isn’t ripened,
either. Whiskey ought to be well
aged, just like wine, though not
so long, of course. (CL3.153)

I’ll admit I seldom commune with
nature; about the only time I
ever stroll through the woods is
when I’m looking for a snort of
moon-shine liquor. (CL3.437)

A friend and I started out for a
county-seat in a county to the
south of here, and I took on a
fair cargo of beer before we left
Cross Plains. On the way we
destroyed about a pint of hill-
country rot-gut, and when we got
to our destination we fell in
with some friends and got a pint
of bottled-in-bond which three of
us lapped up in short order, I
drinking most of it. Then we got
a couple more pints, which
quickly followed the others, and
from that point my recollections
are very hazy. (CL3.300, AM2.836)

Source: CPR 17 Mar 1922 (3).
41

And speaking of mountain-dew, again we have big business
devouring the small-scale producer. Why did the revenue men
go into the hills and hunt down men who were merely seeking
to augment their fearfully barren lives with a little hard
money on the side? To protect the big liquor corporations!
Why, the white liquor made by Southern mountaineers was
generally far superior to anything the bar-keep shoved
across the bar, but the makers seldom had the money to buy
any sort of license to manufacture or sell whiskey. Not
infrequently the best customers the moonshiners had were
owners of the saloons. The mountain-men would raft their
produce down to the river towns—corn, a little cotton
maybe, coon and possum and wolf and bear skins—an innocent
looking cargo, and certainly no room on a flat raft to
conceal contraband. But beneath the raft, fastened firmly
to the bottom, were kegs and barrels of good white corn
liquor. By day the “upper” cargo was unloaded and sold, and
late that night the “lower” cargo was slipped ashore to the
saloons on the river bank. The liquor was carefully
concealed, allowed to age a few months, colored, bottled
and sold across the bar as labeled Bourbon, Haig & Haig,
Scotch, or what have you! And at about three hundred
percent profit for the saloon man. But the customers
weren’t cheated; it was good, pure whiskey, not to be
compared for an instant with the muck modern bootleggers
make. (CL2.135, AM1.110)

“You know what that is? Grenada Lightning. They don’t make
it nowhere else in the world but here. It’s got enough kick
to petrify a elephant![”]
- Untitled (FI3.223)

As with many folks past and present, Robert E. Howard’s understanding of alcohol
was more experiential than technical; he understood that some alcoholic beverages
had to be aged, and that there was a difference between good and bad liquor which he
could taste and smell and feel. The Texan was not wrong, and many of his gripes and
observations regarding moonshine were no doubt accurate, but the finer details of why
eluded him.

Moonshine, mountain dew, white mule, bathtub gin, etc. were the generic names for
home-distilled liquor. The basic process was to first ferment some starchy substance
to produce alcohol, homebrewed beer and wine being two examples; distillation then
concentrated that alcohol by careful heating so that the ethanol—which has a lower
boiling point than water—evaporates, and is collected in a cooling coil that condenses
it back down to liquid. Done correctly, this can produce a liquid with a high alcoholic
content, and could be re-distilled to concentrate it further. If done poorly, especially if
the still and condenser coil were not cleaned thoroughly, the batch could be
contaminated with impurities, which affect the smell and taste, or methanol, which
was toxic. Either way, bad moonshine was rot-gut.
42

Even relatively pure moonshine is not necessarily a pleasant tipple; distilled spirits do
mellow and gain flavor if aged properly in wooden barrels, but Prohibition seldom had
time for such niceties. More often, the danger was that moonshine would be
adulterated—literally watered down, if the imbiber was lucky; or else subject to
additives to cover the “off” smell and taste, or to pass off a neutral spirit as a more
respectable drink like rum or gin by the addition of rum essence or turpentine,
respectively. When it came to home-distilled spirits, there was no guarantee of quality.

Prescription Liquor
And yet, when I look back over a sordid
past, I find that the worst liquor I
ever got hold of bore the government
seal and stamp. It was prescription
liquor and cost, altogether, seven and
a half dollars a pint; more, it
purported to be sixteen years old. It
knocked me blind and kicking, and if it
hadn’t been for nearly half a pint of
Canadian rye whiskey I drank at the
same time, I believe it would have
wound my clock. The rye fought the
poison in the other stuff. Separately,
either might have finished me;
together, one counteracted the other. Source: CPR 13 Nov 1925 (2).
(CL2.382, AM1.324)

On 8 Sep 1917 the Food and Fuel Control Act took effect, which prevented the
distillation of liquor from food sources; this was a wartime rationing measure in
response to the US entry into World War I. Most distilleries either turned to production
of neutral alcohol or shut down, although “rectifiers” could re-distill existing alcohol
(adding coloring or flavoring agents, etc.) and sell that. A substantial supply of distilled
liquor already existed in government bonded warehouses, the result of the 1897
Bottled-in-Bond Act—which ensured that whiskey bottled-in-bond was created during
a single distillation season by a single distiller at a single distillery, was 100 proof,
unadulterated, and aged for at least four years in a federally bonded government
warehouse. As a consequence, many bottles loaded into a warehouse in 1917 were still
there when Prohibition took effect in 1920...and when Prohibition ended in 1933.

One of the stipulations of the Volstead Act allowed physicians to prescribe liquor as
medicine to a patient, no more than one pint per ten days. The orders for this
prescription liquor were largely provided by the bottled-in-bond whiskey quietly aging
in government warehouses; although prescriptions could be written for booze other
than whiskey, and the government also authorized six distilleries to produce and
bottle medicinal liquor. Bonded is not quite the same as good; a bad batch of whiskey
that sits in a warehouse for sixteen years is not going to magically become ambrosia.
Likewise, while whiskeys generally benefit from aging in wooden barrels, losing some
of their harshness and taking on additional flavor, at some point the liquor simply gets
older, not better. Perhaps more to the point, whiskey was simply a much more variable
product: before the Food and Fuel Control Act and the Volstead Act, there were
thousands of distilleries across the United States, each putting out their own product,
and only a tiny fraction of those survived until or were revived after repeal.
43

Virginia Dare
“Now, I’m full of Virginia Dare, but I know what I’m
talking about, see.” (CL1.239)

Virginia Dare tastes the best—that is to say, a strong man
can get it down by gagging and holding his nose.
(CL2.382, AM1.324)

Virginia Dare wine was a nationally known brand by 1920, spurred by the
salesmanship of Paul Garrett of Garrett & Co. of North Carolina. Garrett moved
operations to Brooklyn and re-organized as the Virginia Dare Extract Company, selling
products like Virginia Dare Tonic (a patent medicine containing alcohol) and Virginia
Dare Flavoring Secrets (an extract), as well as non-alcoholic Virginia Dare “wine”
(made in a process similar to near beer), soft drinks, and gear for home winemaking.
Garrett’s foresight allowed Virginia Dare to survive Prohibition, and he was one of the
few wineries ready to begin production when repeal came.

Padre’s Wine Elixir
One thing, I can get good beer here which is what I need. I
haven’t tasted beer for six months and have been drunk only
twice—once on wine elixir and once on corn whiskey. Outside
of that I’ve had three small drinks of whiskey and one of
wine, which is all the liquor that’s passed my lips in six
months. (CL2.10)

Wine elixir - “good enough for me” - It was good for Paul
and Silas, it was good for Paul and Silas, it’s the old
wine elixir and it’s good enough for me (SFP 255)

Padres Wine Elixir was a favorite of mine in my younger and
more unregenerate days. It is bottled in California, and is
merely a cheap grade of red wine, with enough drugs in it
to make it nominally a tonic. Those drugs change it from a
mere low-grade wine to a demon-haunted liquor. It never
hits you twice the same way, and will eventually affect
your heart. Pay no attention to the amount of alcohol
stamped on the label; it varies from bottle to bottle. I
have drunk three bottles and gotten no more cock-eyed than
I have with half a bottle on another occasion. If you keep
it cold it tastes slightly better, but when it’s hot it has
a more lethal kick. (CL2.382, AM1.324)

Giacomo and Giovanni Vai were Italian immigrants who owned the North Cucamonga
Winery in the hills outside Los Angeles, California when Prohibition hit. Like many
other local vintners, they switched to making non-alcoholic products—but like Paul
Garrett and Virginia Dare on the East Coast, they also turned to the production of
wine-based patent medicines, namely Padre’s Wine Elixir Tonic and Padre’s Bitter
Wine. As Howard correctly observed, the “tonics” were largely red wine (with a stated
alcoholic content of “not more than 22%”) with enough additives (“nutritive
medicaments”) to pay lip service to the Volstead act, but they were also representative
of a trend in “bitter wine” elixirs flavored with gentian, cod liver oil, or other agents.
44

Bitters
Bitters are an infusion of aromatic herbs, spices, and essences in alcohol, generally
used to add flavor to other alcoholic drinks, often as part of an aperitif (before a meal,
to encourage appetite) or a digestif (after a meal, to aid digestion). Many claimed
medicinal value, and were effectively little different from many patent medicines
(sometimes called “patent bitters”) and so faced the same difficulties of patent
medicines with the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1907—but still found a
ready audience in the booming cocktail culture of the early 20th century. Prohibition
decimated bitters, with the main survivor being the House of Angostura. The issue was
not so much the restrictions on production, but the change in the way people drank:
questionable liquor in speakeasies, not cocktails in a hotel bar.

Howard, for his part, seems to have classed bitters with tonics and patent medicines;
the tipples of the desperate and adventurous topers during Prohibition. It may be that
he was not ignorant of their use in cocktails or other drinks, for “wine bitter shakes”
were made in some soda fountains, but their absence in his descriptions of cocktails
and cocktail-making suggests he did not appreciate the true role they played in
making mixed drinks.

Sherry Bitters
A friend of mine and I stood one rainy night in the lee of
the Brown County library wall, and strove manfully to get
down a bottle of Sherry Bitters. Seasoned though we were on
rot-gut, we ended by throwing the bottle over the nearest
fence and drifting away on the bosom of the great, silent,
brooding night. (CL2.382, AM1.324)

Sherry bitters are orange bitters blended with sherry, a fortified wine made in and
around Jerez la Frontera in Andalusia, Spain. Normally used as an aperitif, or a
hangover cure when a few dashes of bitters were added to soda, in the United States
before Prohibition (and probably during it) various brands of sherry bitters were
advertised much the same as patent medicines, which no doubt added to Howard’s
impression. Had Howard explored a bit more with bitters, he might have come across
a cocktail like this:

Sherry and Bitters

Use sherry glass.

2 dashes of sherry bitters. [2 ml]

Fill glass with good sherry wine.

The above makes a delightful and exhilarating appetizer; and, unlike the
various cocktails, none of the ingredients are harmful.

Source: Modified Angostura and Sherry, DBE 114.

There ain’t nothing to women, work nor wine (CL1.167)

And all the kings of the earth drank ale
But he drank wine. (CL1.144)
45

Brandy
My grandfathers, and my greatgrandfathers kept fine wines,
brandies and whiskeys on hand and drank regularly and
moderately. (CL2.394, AM1.341)

[...] I assure you I had not no great amount of liquor
under my belt—some beer, a few whiskeys, a little brandy,
and maybe a slug of wine for a chaser like.
- “The Pit of the Serpent” (FI2.3)

Was it wine or apple brandy Noah guzzled to his fall?
- “A Song of College” (CL3.488)

Brandy is distilled wine, which gives it a higher alcoholic content. Distillation of wine
into brandy was common in years where there were bumper crops of wine grapes
(such as shortly after repeal), and unaged brandy was often used to fortify wines.
Brandy made from fermented apple juice is known as apple brandy or applejack.

If Howard ever tasted brandy, he never mentioned it directly; though he might have
encountered it in some in the higher-end Mexican bars, illicit brandy made by the
distillation of home-made wine, or medicinal brandy during Prohibition, or in his trips
to better-stocked city bars after repeal; one of the first producers of brandy after
Prohibition ended was Giovanni Vai, one of the brains behind Padre’s Wine Elixir. One
typical bar order Howard might have sampled:

The Brandy Cocktail The dark faced man was drinking out of
a bottle, something so rotten he had
1 glass brandy [4 fl. oz./120 ml] to hold his nose to drink it.
“What are you drinking?” asked Hogu.
2 dashes Angostura bitters [2 ml]
“Liquor,” said the dark man laconically.
1 teaspoon Sugar [5 ml] “But if it is so rotten, why drink it?”
“For the effect of course!” said the dark
Source: 1CC 24.
man […]
- “The People of the Winged Skulls”(CL1.297)

Cognac
In the first place, since having been repeatedly poisoned
by bad licker, I can hardly abide either the taste or smell
of even good whiskey, cognac, or wine. The stuff almost
gags me with its nauseousness. (CL2.394)

I’ve got the devil’s disposition and a belly full of
Sabinas and cognac. (CL3.505)

Cognacs are twice-distilled white wine brandies that have been aged in oak barrels;
they take their name from the town of Cognac, France, and face strict requirements in
terms of grape varieties that go into their production. Due to its purported medical
benefits, cognac was the only liquor that was allowed to be legally imported during
Prohibition. If Howard found the taste and smell off-putting, it could well be that what
he encountered was some lesser or adulterated beverage labeled as cognac (and sold
for an inflated price). A simple cocktail like a sangaree may have made it more
palatable for the Texan.
46

Cognac Sangaree

Use a small bar glass, one or two lumps of ice, on half wine glass of water [2 fl.
oz./60 ml], one half tablespoonful of sugar [7-8 ml], one glass of cognac [4 fl.
oz./120 ml], stir up well with a spoon, grate a little nutmeg on top, and serve,
train if desired.

Source: Modified brandy sangaree, 101D 37-38.

Gin
For a slug of gin in a skating rink
was all of the booze they had to drink (CL1.260)

Pausing only long enough for Vinson to buy a bottle of
whiskey, and for me to tank up on gin and 6% beer, we sped
on to the Cavern, twenty-six miles west of the town of
Carlsbad. (CL3.236)

With a case of beer, a bottle of gin, limes, ginger ale and
grape juice near at hand, I defy the heat. (CL3.213)

Gin (from the Dutch jenever) is a distilled grain spirit whose principal flavoring comes
from juniper berries; gin as Robert E. Howard would have known it would have been
London-style, a very dry (i.e. less sweet), clear spirit like Gordon’s, with older styles
having largely fallen out of favor, although sweeter Old Tom Gin was still produced.
While we don’t know for certain if Howard ever tasted Gordon’s, he certainly would
have heard of it, if nowhere else than in an article in the Junto by his friend Tevis
Clyde Smith. (SFP 66) Howard seems to have been fond of the occasional gin cocktail,
such as the gin fizz.

Gin Fizz
[...] and barely quenched my thirst in El Paso with a
whiskey sour, a gin fizz, a glass of Burgundy, a Harry
Mitchell Special McGinty, and a bottle of A-B-C. (CL3.337)

But I don’t like to drink by myself, so I only downed a gin
fizz and a bottle of ABC, and came back and went to bed
myself. (CL3.355-356, AM2.874)

A fizz is a variation on sour cocktails; the key ingredients are an acidic juice and
carbonated water. There are innumerable gin fizz recipes; a typical one from Howard’s
period would be:

Use a mixing glass.

1 spoonful of sugar dissolved well in a little seltzer water. [1 tbsp. / 15 ml]
3 dashes of lemon juice. [3 ml]
½ glass of fine ice. [2 fl. oz. / 60 ml]
1 wine glass of Tom gin. [2 fl. oz. / 60 ml]

Shake well, strain into a fizz glass, fill with seltzer water, and serve.
Source: DBE 31
47

Trader’s Gin
[...] we found the captain’s private store of real Scotch
whiskey. We were fed up on trade-gin […]
- Untitled (PA 230)

She made a face, tasting again all the square-face she had
guzzled the night before.
- “The Girl on the Hell Ship” (SA 14)

Trade gin or trader’s gin, along with its close companion trade rum, was cheap
distilled liquor intended for export. Major manufacturers were the British, Dutch, and
Germans, and the principal customers were West Africans, where it formed a
significant commodity before World War I. International Prohibitionist efforts
eventually resulted in the 1919 Liquor Trade Treaty, which discouraged the spirits
trade to Africa. Gin was often shipped in bottles with a distinctive square base and
flattened sides, hence were sometimes called square-face gin. Howard’s use of trade-
gin is within a nautical context, as a trade good used by sailors (which the sailors
don’t mind sampling), and is a bit of authentic detail he could have picked up from
any number of books or magazines.

Kaoliang
[...] Kwang Tzu went on eating candied pork and swigging
kaoliang.
- “A Two-Fisted Santa Claus” (FI3.139)

[...] went on guzzling tea and rice wine out of them little
fool egg-shell cups. [...] “This is funny tastin’ stuff,
What is it?”
“Kaoliang,” he said. “Have another glass.”
- “General Ironfist” (FI3.163)

Kaoliang (Simplified Chinese: 高粱酒, “sorghum liquor”) is a distilled spirit made of
fermented sorghum, made and sold principally in China and Taiwan. As with other
exotic liquors, this appears to be a potent potable that Robert E. Howard was aware of
but probably didn’t experience directly; at least, not unless he sampled some of it in a
Chinese restaurant in San Antonio and never felt like sharing the experience. As with
other foreign spirits, Howard used kaoliang as an authentic detail in a couple of Sailor
Steve Costigan’s international adventures, although in “General Ironfist” he appears to
have not been clear on the difference between the distilled liquor and rice wine, a
fermented rice drink.

Kumis
I hardly see how the Mongols of the Gobi managed to live,
when their food consisted almost entirely of meat and milk—
cheese and butter, perhaps, and fermented mare’s milk.
(CL2.398, AM1.343)

The servants of the inn brought kumiss—fermented mare’s
milk, in leathern skins, bound and sealed—illegal drink,
brought down by the caravans from the lands of the
48

Turkomans, to tempt the sated palates of nobles, and to
satisfy the craving of the steppesmen among the mercenaries
and the Bahairiz. [...] Cahal quaffed the unfamiliar,
whitish, acid stuff [...]
- “The Sowers of the Thunder” (SW 257-258)

He made no reply, but tilted the golden jug and gulped down
enough stinging kumiss to have made an ordinary man’s head
swim at once. He had lived the life of the nomads so long
that their tastes had become his.
-“The Daughter of Erlik Khan” (EB 59)

But they greeted us with the sign of peace, and brought us
into their village, where they set meat and barley-bread
and fermented milk before us [...]
- “The Garden of Fear” (SN 40)

Most alcoholic beverages derive from plants, be
it grain or fruit or anything else: starches are
broken down into sugars such as sucrose and
fructose, and these sugars are in turn
fermented into alcohol. However, any sugar can
potentially be converted into alcohol, including
lactose—the sugar expressed in milk. Kumis
(also commonly kumiss or koumiss) is a
fermented dairy product, traditionally created
from fermented mare’s milk, although it can
also be made from any other milk, and part of
the fermentation process produces lactic acid,
leading to the sour flavor Howard copied from
some other source. A culturally important in the
cultures of many Central Asian peoples, kumis
was an appropriately exotic element of the alien
cultures that Howard was fascinated with, and
crops up a few times in his fiction.
Source: CPR 31 Dec 1926 (6).

Liqueur
A liqueur is a distilled spirit flavored with something else (herbs, spices, nuts, etc.),
much like bitters, and both bitters and liqueurs descend from herbal-infused
medicinal tonics. However, liqueurs are sweetened (with sugar, syrup, etc.), and unlike
bitters seem to have largely died out of the tonic market in the United States. Liqueurs
tend to be more viscous than pure distilled spirits, often highly aromatic, and
flavorful. As such, though they may be drunk on their own as an aperitif, digestif, or
tonic, they are more familiar today as a flavoring agent in cocktails. In this regard,
liqueurs tend to complement bitters, by being sweet instead of sour.

Howard encountered liqueurs at least twice, although given the circumstances, he
may not have quite understood the difference between them and other types of spirits.
49

Bénédictine
I also got a whang of Benedictine wine, that was possibly a
hundred and fifty years old. It was thick as honey, and
about the same color. A glass of that would make an
Orangemen vote for de Valera. (CL2.299)

From the description of its thickness and color it sounds like bénédictine, an herbal
liqueur invented in 1863 (which would provide the “possibly a hundred and fifty years
old” datum when Howard encountered it in 1932). Bénédictine sees use in many
cocktails, such as the whiskey cobbler.

Whiskey Cobbler

Use a mixing glass.

½ teaspoon of sugar [2-3 ml] dissolved in a little water.
2 slices of orange.
1 or 2 dashes of benedictine. [1-2 ml]
1 ½ wine glass of whiskey. [3 fl. oz. / 90 ml]

Fill the glass with fine ice, spoon well, dress with fruit, and serve with
straws.

Source: DBE 29

Blackberry Brandy Liqueur
[...] a peculiarly potent blackberry brandy liqueur I
discovered in Socorro, New Mexico. (CL3.332)

There is a fine point of potable terminology at play here: brandy is distilled wine, and
while we generally assume that means fermented grape juice, in practice any sugary
fruit (cherries, blackberries, etc.) can be made into wine, and any wine can be made
into brandy. However, Howard specifies that this is a liqueur; hence rather than being
brandy made from blackberries, it seems more likely that this is a liqueur made from
brandy but flavored with blackberries.

A producer of peach and blackberry brandy liqueurs after Prohibition was Ed F. Hayes
of Los Angeles, who sold them by the pint, advertised as 90 proof; in 1934 the Food
and Drug Administration seized and destroyed seven cases of these products, as
Hayes had adulterated them with neutral spirits—no doubt to stretch out the brandy
and increase the proof. While it is not clear if this is what Howard encountered in New
Mexico, it was within the right timeframe and distribution area.

Mead
“Well, Wulfhere,” said the Pictish king, “you have drunk
the mead of council and have spoken about the fires—what is
your decision?”
- “Kings of the Night” (CS 93)

It is a cold mead, this kinging it.
- “Kings of the Night” (CS 114)
50

Satan gives me promises—bitter is his mead!
- “A Song For Men That Laugh” (EIH 82)

One of the earliest sources of concentrated sugar was honey; and the fermentation of
honey produced mead. As with ale, Howard recognized from literary and historical
sources that mead was an important alcoholic drink in ancient times, and made use of
it on occasion as it seemed appropriate. However, his general unfamiliarity with mean
as compared to beer, ale, and wine appears to have kept him from using it very often.

Mixed Drinks
Then I got to wondering if I could still like trade-rum
after drinking Scotch whisky. I tasted it. It was still
suited to my taste. Then I wondered how they would taste
together.
- Untitled (PA 230-231)

Mixed drinks which combined different types of distilled spirits were not uncommon,
although as Fredericks warns in his little blue book:

Take fair warning: These mixtures are dangerous to the equilibrium.
They have been included because they are invaluable in times of stress.
If your party is dying of inanition, or if, for any reason you wish to speed
the normal rhythms of nature, use them; but use them respectfully
because they have Authority. (1CC 29)

The warning is a fair one: packing more liquor into a glass increases the alcoholic
content, which can cause the drinker to become inebriated much more quickly than
they had planned. The combination of stronger alcoholic content appealed to some,
even as the discordant flavors from mixing together disparate spirits (whiskey and
rum, rum and gin, etc.) discouraged others. Still, during the Great Depression and
Prohibition, many were keen to experiment.

The Thunderbolt

Drink it while sitting down. Go to your joints where they wear a mask
And the bar-tender looks like a grampus,
2 parts Gin I will drink from a gold hip flask
2 parts Whisky And sleep it off on the campus.
2 parts Bacardi - Untitled (CL1.276)
Source: 1CC 30

Palm Wine
“Palm wine!” he said. “Have a swig on me! Very cool, by
damn!”
“That’s booze, ain’t it?” I said suspiciously. “I can’t
drink no booze, and me fightin’.”
“No booze, señor,” he said. “Very mild. Like lemonade!”
“Well, gimme it!” I said and grabbed it and drunk about
half of it. Boy, it did taste good, though it had a kinda
peculiar whang.
- Untitled (FI3.221)
51

Palm wine is a fermented beverage created from the sugary sap of any of several
species of palm trees, such as the Chilean wine palm or the datepalm; in the untitled
story where it makes an appearance, it appears that the locals had further distilled it,
much like mezcal or sotol in Mexico.

Rice-Wine
So Godric ate the curiously spiced rice, the dates and
candied meats, and drank the colorless rice wine brought
him by a flat-faced girl slave who wore gold bangles on her
ankles [...]
- “Red Blades of Black Cathay” (SW 228)

Rice-wine is a popular term for alcoholic beverages made from rice, both fermented
and distilled, and are prevalent in many rice-growing regions, especially cultures with
wet-rice farming China, Japan, and much of Southeast Asia, and comes in a wide
array of styles. As with many “exotic” alcoholic drinks, Howard probably never had an
opportunity to sample rice-wine himself, but picked up knowledge of it from his
voluminous reading and dropped it into his stories as he felt appropriate.

Sake
To scorn all strife and view all life
With the goofy eyes of a drunk,
From the dizzy sea to the hangman’s tree,
From the saint to the heart of the skunk.
From the boozy king to the beggar stewed
From gin to the saki stall, (CL2.46)

Sake (saki was a common spelling in the early 20th
century) is the term for a type of Japanese rice-
wine, which has since become popular in the
United States through the proliferation of Japanese
restaurants, but in the 1920s and 30s was
comparatively obscure, as many aspects of
Japanese culture had not yet been made widely
available or captured the public imagination. It is
generally a clear liquid with a relatively high alcohol
content compared to beer or wine (~18-20% alcohol
by volume undiluted, comparable to many low-end
distilled spirits), and is traditionally served warm.

Source: CPR 29 Jun 1934 (1).

Living only to fight and drink, knowing nothing else! I
wish to God I had been born in some such environment and
grown up, knowing nothing else, wishing nothing else,
knowing not even how to read or write. (CL1.224-225)

Tonight I fling a curse in the cup
For the foe whose lines we sundered— (CL2.95)
52

Rum
I guzzled Life as I guzzled rum.
- “Flint’s Passing” (PA 162)

Drink a swig o’ rum to the bride!
- “The Blue Flame of Vengeance”
(SK 197)

“Sez’e’, ‘No more we’ll stuff
ourselves,
With quarts and quarts of rum,
Lashed to the mast, The color’s
fast,
Yo ho, and a pack of gum!’
(CL1.12)
Source: CPR 11 Jun 1926 (2).
TOPER
Toil, cares, annoyances all fade away;
I care not who may run for President.
I drowse and swig my rum the live-long day,
And watch the shallops skimming o’er the bay. (CL1.102)

She harried the rum-runners all to Hell,
And took their cargoes to guzzle and sell. (CL1.260)

Jack London’s ghost still haunts a rum-shop’s door (CL1.272)

Tuns of brown ale and barrels of black rum,
- “Drake Sings of Yesterday” (AWOD 158)

Well, if Uncle Shadrach ever took a swig of rum in his life
it was because they warn’t no good red corn whiskey within
reach [...]
- “The Apache Mountain War” (ABE1.181)

Rum is a distilled spirit made from fermented sugar cane juice and molasses, and was
an early and long-lasting staple of the Americas, fuel for the American Revolution and
the Colonial economy. The “Demon Rum” was assailed by Temperance groups, but by
the time Prohibition went into effect, rum had almost entirely been replaced in
American tastes by whiskey, gin, brandy, and other liquors. Lack of supply at home,
however, drove many to the Caribbean, where islands like Cuba flourished as thirsty
tourists washed up on the shore, by boat and seaplane.

Newly made rum, like whiskey and other distilled spirits, tends to be dark brown,
harsh in flavor and smell, and high in alcoholic content; aging in wooden barrels
smooths out many of these qualities, rendering a dark rum. Further distillation and
filtering lead to light rum; although there are many more subtle qualifiers as far as
medium rum, the island it was made on, and so on. Even if an American couldn’t
come to the islands, the rum came to them: bootleggers smuggled rum into the US
while it was illegal, and with repeal, rum surged into the United States. Lighter rums
became especially fashionable for cocktails during this period.
53

To Robert E. Howard, it was a drink of sailors and pirates—the latter inspired,
whether he knew it or not, directly by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (1883),
where Long John Silver’s pirate ditty forever tied pirates and rum together in the
public imagination:

Fifteen men on the dead man's chest—
...Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest—
...Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

The verse was later expanded as the poem “Derelict” by Young E. Allison. Howard
would parody this verse in some letters as “Yo ho! And a bottle of strawberry soda!”
(CL1.7) and “Yo ho, and a pack of gum!” (CL1.12)

After Prohibition ended, the Texan took to rum—at least the light rums like Bacardi,
which would have been readily available in bars and taverns. One generic rum cocktail
recipe Two-Gun Bob might certainly have approved of is Rum and Molasses:

Rum and Molasses

Use a whiskey glass.

Pour a small quantity of rum into it to cover the bottom of the glass.

Then take a spoonful of black molasses and place it in the glass, and hand the
bottle of rum to the customer to help himself.

The drink is considered very good for a cold, or to prevent la grippe.

Source: DBE 33

Bacardi
I tanked up on it and on Baccardi rum [...]
(CL3.241, AM2.785)

The most famous rum during Prohibition is the Bacardi brand, a light rum, aged and
filtered, which flourished during Prohibition, and unlike the cloying alcohols from
home-made stills or the darker, sweeter rums, mixed well with almost anything, giving
birth to new cocktails like the daiquiri. So successful was Bacardi in the marketplace
that it became practically a generic term for rum and rum cocktails in much of the
United States, though Howard seems to have known the difference. A simple drink
Robert E. Howard might have mixed himself at home was the Bacardi Cocktail:

Bacardi Cocktail

A small wine-glass of BACARDI [2 fl. oz/ 60 ml], the juice of half a lime, one or
two teaspoonfuls of sugar [5-10 ml], in a glass filled with ice, shake well, strain
and serve.

Source: 101D 39
54

Grog
I was once, I declare, a grog-shop man
And I lolled in the cool of a bar; (CL2.46)

Many fell at the grog-shop wall
Clicko the Hittite was the first to fall. (CL2.277)

[...] slovenly rum-puncheon ye call an inn! Keel-haul me, I
thought ‘twas a decent grog-shop [...]
- “The Treasure of Henry Morgan” (PA 222)

[...] like curdled grog.
- “Buccaneer Treasure” (PA 71)

Grog comes from Admiral Edward “Old Grogram” Vernon, who in 1740 fixed the daily
ration of rum issued to British sailors, which was to be diluted with water, a process
that was codified in the Admiralty’s naval code in 1756; the dilute rum ration was
often issued with sugar and limes, making a primitive but effective cocktail, and
perhaps inadvertently helped prevent scurvy. The use of lemon or lime juice in the mix
was eventually added to the regulations, and ultimately gave rise to the nickname of
“Limeys” for the British.

Nelson’s recipe for grog was fairly straightforward:

[...] their half pint of rum [240 ml] to be daily mixed with a quart of water
[960 ml], which they that are good husbandmen, may, from the saving of
their salt provisions and bread, purchase sugar and limes to make more
palatable to them. (NB 10)

As with rum, Robert E. Howard was aware that grog had nautical connotations,
although in general he used it as a generic term for any intoxicant; the eponymous
drink in his story “Murderer’s Grog” (Spicy-Adventure Jan 1937) is actually bhang, a
concoction made from “crushed hemp-plant leaves, with water, mare’s milk and
sugar[.]” (SA 113)

“Sez’e’, ‘No more we’ll stuff ourselves,
With quarts and quarts of rum,
Lashed to the mast,
The color’s fast,
Yo ho, and a pack of gum! (CL1.12)

Mojito
I find a bit of crushed mint in whiskey sours and certain
kinds of high-balls adds a great deal to the taste.
(CL3.439)

Strictly speaking, there is no direct evidence that Robert E. Howard ever drank a
mojito, much less mixed one. It would also not surprise anyone to find out he had. All
of the ingredients were fairly readily available, some of them in his yard, and he
already had a taste for crushed mint in cocktails. Nor would the timing be
questionable: the mojito as we know it today is a cocktail that came out of Prohibition.
So if the Sage of Cross Plains had made a mojito, it might have looked like this:
55

Mojito Highball

2 oz. rum [60 ml]
1 tsp. Sugar [5 ml]
Juice of half a lime and rind
1 cube ice
Crushed mint to taste.

Serve in highball glass. Fill with soda. Decorate with 3 sprigs of rind. Stir.

Source: Modified mojito highball, SCBB 58.

Trader’s Rum
[...] a bewhiskered old wharf-rat which exuded a strong
smell of trader’s rum.
- “Night of Battle” (FI3.45)

Big Nose had a chill and we had to revive him with about a
quart of company rum [...]
- “While the Smoke Rolled” (ABE2.353)

Trade rum, trader’s rum, or company rum, along with its close companion trade gin,
was cheap distilled liquor intended for export. In Howard’s lifetime it was mostly
manufactured in the Americas, and the principal customers were West Africans, where
it formed a significant commodity before World War I. International Prohibitionist
efforts eventually resulted in the 1919 Liquor Trade Treaty, which discouraged the
spirits trade to Africa. Howard’s use of trade-rum is often within a nautical or colonial
context, as a trade good used for dealing with native peoples.

Sotol
Tequila, mescal, pulque and sotol are the favorite Mexican
native drinks, but these are not all handled by the better
saloons, and a man takes a chance drinking anything in the
lower Mexican bars.(CL3.247)

Sotol is distilled from the fermented juice of the sotol or Desert Spoon plant, which
Howard was at least passing familiar with:

In the hundred mile stretch from Sonora to Del Rio on the
Border, there’s not even a cluster of Mexican huts to mar
the scenery and there’s just one store, a sort of half-way
place. The rest is just—landscape! Wild, bare hills, with
no grass, no trees, not even mesquite; not even cactus will
grow there—only a sort of plant like a magnified Spanish
dagger, called—I believe—sotol. (CL2.101)

Headline from CPR 30 Aug 1935 (1).

[...] but whoever decided the butte looked like an
elephant’s head must have been full of tequila. (CL3.355)
56

Tequila, Mezcal, and Pulque
Tequila, mescal, pulque and sotol are the favorite Mexican
native drinks, but these are not all handled by the better
saloons, and a man takes a chance drinking anything in the
lower Mexican bars. The better saloons all handle tequila,
and I make it a point to stick to that. (CL3.247)

[...] a lousy, unshaven creature named Juan, having spent
his few pesos for mescal, made his way into an old ‘dobe
hut to sleep off the result.
- “A Man of Peace” (FI1.222)

I went across the Rio Grande
And viewed the great Tequila land. (CL1.35)

The tequila was all right [...](CL3.214)

By the time I realized that I couldn’t hold enough beer to
make me loop-legged, I was so full that if I had drunk any
whiskey or tequila it would have made me sick. 9
(CL3.354, AM2.874)

[“]Say, this stuff tastes funny.”
“That’s just high-grade tequila,”
- “Texas Fists” (FI2.231)

Well, I was so overcome for a few minutes all I could do
was lean on the bar and drink a pint of tequila.
- “A Gent from the Pecos” (ABE2.300)

An enough tequilla to set me free
- “Surrender” (EIH 85)

Robert E. Howard crossed the Border into Mexico only a handful of times in his life,
and does not seem to have penetrated the interior further than the border towns with
their zonas de la tolerancia. As a consequence, while he was aware of more Mexican
drinks than beer and tequila, he doesn’t seem to have tried them, either out of distrust
of the quality of the liquor or of the patrons.

Pulque is the fermented sap of the maguey (agave) plant, which is high in sugar and
called aguamiel (Spanish, “honeywater”); this renders a milky, viscous, sour beverage.
The heart of the maguey (the piña) is cooked (which caramelizes the sugars) and
fermented then distilled to produce mezcal (also mescal). Certain mezcals from the
state of Oaxaca are sold con gusano (Spanish, “with worm”), which were and are a
popular marketing gimmick for tourists. Tequila is a specific type of mezcal which is
made from the piña of the blue agave plant, and is by far the most popular and
famous Mexican liquor among Americans. The Texan likely took his the traditional
way: a shot with salt and lime—a way to cover the taste of bad tequila.

9
Two-Gun Bob appears to have had full understanding of the popular adage “beer before liquor, never been
sicker; liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.”
57

Virgin Cocktails
Non-alcoholic mixed drinks predated Prohibition, and were as much part of the
bartender’s repertoire as flips, fizzes, slings, smashes, and high-balls. Daly’s
Bartender’s Encyclopedia (1903) includes a recipes for beef tea, lemonade, egg
lemonade, soda lemonade, seltzer lemonade, and milk and seltzer (20-21, 89-90), all
without a drop of alcohol. During Prohibition, many sought to fill the gap left by
publishing new non-alcoholic cocktail recipes...including the Cross Plains Review,
Robert E. Howard’s hometown newspaper.

Mint Cocktail

Crush a bunch of mint, mince and soak half an hour in the juice of two
lemons and the grated rind of one. Cook two cupfuls [475 ml] each of
sugar and water until it spins a thread 10; take from the fire and stir in
the juice of a large orange, the lemon and the mint. Let stand on ice until
chilled. Serve on ice.

Source: CPR 20 Jan 1928 (7)

Vodka
Dmitri: “Have a glass of vodka, Vladimir.”

Ivan, a barkeepsky: “Yes, Vladimir, it’s good vodka.”

Vladimir: “No. Why should I drink vodka when the world’s
all askew? I think—you understand; if I didn’t think as I
think, but then, of course, I’d not think as I wouldn’t, if
I didn’t—but then, I wouldn’t. But you don’t understand.”

Dmitri: “I think I do. Have a drink.”

Vladimir: “After all, why shouldn’t I? Give me the drink,

Ivan. We live, we drink vodka, we die. Why should we not
die? What are we but animals? If a man was anything but an
animal—but then, of course, he wouldn’t be if he wasn’t
what he had been before or after he was or was not. I won’t
drink.”

Dmitri: “But there might be something—something, you
understand. Not altogether anything, but something above—
outside of all this. Or behind it. Surely behind it, yes,
yes, it must be behind it. Because if there wasn’t, what
was or is besides this?”

Ivan: “Sure, it’s all evident. It is, there isn’t, or is
not, because, well, because if there wasn’t, what would it
all be?”

10
“Spins a thread” in cooking means that when the heated sugar-water is dropped into cold water, it does not ball
up as it sinks.
58

Vladimir: “No, you fellows are just talking to cheer me up.
I know what I know—well, maybe not all, but something.
Life’s that way, you know. Give me the vodka.”
- A Glass of Vodka(CL2.422-3)

They wanted to know how I knowed they was Russians and
being unable to think of anything else, I said because I
smelt vodka on their breath. 11
- “The Yellow Cobra” (FI2.199)

Vodka is a distilled spirit—usually of grains or potatoes, although it serves as a
general term for any distilled spirit, regardless of the original material. During the
1920s and 30s vodka had not yet taken on its reputation as a clear, almost flavorless
liquor, the result of industrialization and extensive filtering which made vodka a
rectified spirit (almost pure alcohol). Vodka during Howard’s lifetime was indisputably
tied in the American consciousness with Russian national identity, sometimes to the
point of parody, as in Howard’s jocular one-act play A Glass of Vodka.

After Prohibition ended, vodka enjoyed a brief vogue in urbanities like New York City’s
Russian Tea Room, which remade traditional cocktails like the martini with vodka
instead of gin or other spirits. If Robert E. Howard ever deigned to try such a tipple, he
might have gone for a Vodka Collins:

Vodka Collins

Using a mixing glass.

1 spoonful of sugar. [1 tbsp. / 15 ml]
Juice of one whole lemon.
2 or 3 small lumps of ice.
1 wine glass of vodka. [2 fl. oz. / 60 ml]

Fill the glass with plain soda, spoon well but slowly, and serve.

In serving this drink do not let it stand; if so, the foam will run over the
top of the glass.

Source: Modified tom collins, DBE 35

Whiskey
Hoots, mon. Hae a drink of usquebae. (CL1.8)

When I used to work in a law-office I saw a good deal of
good whiskey, but for the past few years it’s been getting
rottener and rottener until it’s risky to even smell a
cork. The stuff don’t make men drunk; it maddens them.
(CL2.213, AM1.173)

11
Today, when vodka is closer to a neutral spirit, it has little distinctive odor and it is often claimed it cannot be
smelled on the breath. In Howard’s day, however, it would have had a smell like any other liquor.
59

My distaste for whiskey doesn’t include beer.
(CL2.397, AM1.342)

Nor have I ever tasted a drink
half as good as an old French-
German woman on Canal Street
used to mix—but those were the
days of good whiskey.
(CL2.429, AM1.381)

He always drank his whiskey
straight
And he had a gut that could
carry the freight. (CL2.485)

My great uncles, for instance,
of my most purely Irish family
branch, despised any sort of
drink except raw whiskey spiced
with cayenne pepper. 12 (CL3.138)

I had intended guzzling some
good legal whiskey, but never
got around to it. [...] Half
the whiskey you get—or at least
a big percent of it—is little
more than colored water. The
good stuff isn’t ripened,
either. Whiskey ought to be
well aged, just like wine,
though not so long, of course.
(CL3.153)

Source: CPR 14 Oct 1921 (1).

Whiskey (also whisky), from the Gaelic uisge beatha (“water of life”), Anglicized as
usquebae, is a distilled spirit made from grain; effectively the distillation of beer. In the
United States of America, after the Revolutionary War whiskey replaced rum as the
liquor of choice; instead of having to import sugar or molasses, the citizens of the
young republic could use their own grain crops: corn (maize), rye, wheat, and barley
being the major components of the mash that would be fermented and made into
whiskey. As a consequence, production boomed, with thousands of distilleries across
the country, ranging from organized businesses to private stills; to add to the
confusion, rectifiers bought from distillers to blend products under their own labels,
and many taverns and saloons did likewise. The chaotic marketplace was flooded with
all manner of whiskey from both domestic and international producers, much of it
confusingly, misleadingly, or falsely labeled. Some “whiskey” was another form of
liquor, much of it was unaged, quite a bit of it was bad.

12
If not a tall tale, this bares a similarity to James Bond adding pepper to his vodka martinis in Moonraker (1955).
60

Whiskey varieties are divided by the type of grain in the mash, the method of
production and aging, etc. as determined by tradition and, since the 19th century in
the United States, by federal regulation. The 1897 Bottled-in-Bond act required
American whiskey to meet certain bare standards, and to be sealed and aged in
government warehouses; this was followed by the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906,
which introduced labeling requirements and the federal definitions for different types
and styles of whiskey. These would be the days of “good whiskey” of Robert E.
Howard’s youth. (CL2.429, AM1.381) They did not last long: the Food and Fuel Control
Act in 1917 ceased distillation of grain for beverages, forcing Americans who wanted
whiskey to rely on the warehouse supply; in 1919 the Wartime Prohibition Act went
into effect, and was followed by the Volstead Act in 1920.

As a consequence, today’s whiskeys are generally different from the whiskeys of
Howard’s lifetime; the ones he drank and would be familiar with would have shown a
much greater variety in flavor and essential ingredients, though in proof they were
about the same, and there would still be some question as to what actually went into
the whiskey in question, regardless of the label. The Pure Food and Drug Act was
mainly concerned with blended whiskeys, whiskey fortified with neutral spirits (i.e.
almost pure ethanol), and products like rum or gin sold as whiskey.

In general, it may be said that a customer purchasing rye whiskey in 1918 would have
known that the mash for that particular whiskey contained rye, at least enough to
flavor it, and that a pint of bourbon would be mostly maize (corn), and aged in new
oak barrels that had been charred; any whiskey labeled straight was not blended with
any other type of whiskey; and any whiskey whose mash was made up of a single type
of grain was a single malt. Scotch and Irish whiskies were the product of their
respective countries, with their own standards and tastes (Scotch whiskies often being
“peaty” and aromatic); both were imported into the United States heavily before 1920,
but World War I and Prohibition largely doomed the Irish whiskey industry, which
shrank heavily and never recovered. Canadian whiskey is not much different from
many American whiskeys, but Canadian distillers became known for adding rye to the
mash, and in much of the United States “Canadian whiskey” became almost
synonymous with rye whiskey, even if much of it technically wasn’t.

A thirsty drinker was on their own to navigate the complex and occasionally murky
waters-of-life involving the finer points of Kentucky vs. Tennessee whiskey, pot still,
single cask, etc. During Prohibition aging, quality, and accurate labeling were all
sacrificed in the face of demand; after repeal, few distilleries remained to meet the
national thirst, and folks eager to have a legal drink for a change were not always
satisfied with the result. Despite this, judging by the number of mentions in his letters
and fiction, whiskey appears to have become Howard’s favorite distilled spirit.

Bourbon
The liquor was carefully concealed, allowed to age a few
months, colored, bottled and sold across the bar as labeled
Bourbon, Haig & Haig, Scotch, or what have you! And at
about three hundred percent profit for the saloon man. But
the customers weren’t cheated; it was good, pure whiskey,
not to be compared for an instant with the muck modern
bootleggers make. (CL2.135, AM1.110)
61

A distinctively American liquor, bourbon whiskey is distilled from a mash containing a
majority of maize (corn), and is aged in new oak barrels which are charred on the
inside, imparting some of their flavor to the final product. Most bourbon is made from
a sour mash process, where mash from a previous distillation is added to a new batch
to start fermentation. The closely related style of Tennessee whiskey has the same
requirements, but is filtered before going in the barrel.

It is not clear how well acquainted Howard was with bourbon, since it is mentioned
only once in his letters, and would have been scarce during Prohibition. However,
some of Tevis Clyde Smith’s notes indicate that the pair were familiar with at least one
brand, Old Ripy. (SFP 256, 260) Bourbon is a staple of many cocktails before
Prohibition and after repeal, such as the classic whiskey smash.

Bourbon Smash

Use a mixing glass.

1 spoonful of sugar. [1 tbsp. / 15 ml]
1 wine glass of seltzer water. [2 fl. oz. / 60 ml]
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh mint; dissolve well until the essence of the mint is
extracted.
Half fill the glass with fine ice.
1 wine glass of bourbon whiskey. [2 fl. oz. / 60 ml]

Mix well with a spoon, strain into a fancy stem glass, put into fruit, and serve.

Source: Modified whiskey smash, DBE 50

Old Crow
We are the bums and the slackers
Swiggers of Ancient Crow. (CL1.96)

Old Crow is a straight bourbon whiskey, produced at Gaines, Berry & Co. in Kentucky
before and after Prohibition, and bought out and produced by National Distillers, Inc.
in 1934; under their aegis it became one of the most popular bourbons in the world.
The recipe was changed in the 1960s, and both the flavor and reputation of Old Crow
took a dive, and was eventually sold to James B. Beam Distilling Co. (now Beam
Suntory). The current Old Crow brand is not the same recipe as the original, but a
cheaper variation on Jim Beam.

Old Ripy
It was daybreak, and I suggested we go by the [Harney]
House, and get the chef to heat up some tomato juice. We
did. That was all I wanted after the Old [Ripy] of the
night before. (SFP 256)

Trip to Eastland in summer of 1933 — Old Ri [Overten] and
Home Brew — Pink — “I like to be as drunk as the driver”
(SFP 260)
62

Old Ripy was a straight bourbon whiskey produced by the Old Hickory Distillery in
Tyrone, Kentucky, which was built by Thomas Ripy in 1890 and owned and run by his
family until 1949. Today the distillery produces Wild Turkey and its variants, but in
2016 revisited the old brand and brought out a new limited edition Old Ripy, which is
104 proof straight bourbon whiskey.

Canadian Whiskey
It knocked me blind and kicking, and if it hadn’t been for
nearly half a pint of Canadian rye whiskey I drank at the
same time, I believe it would have wound my clock. The rye
fought the poison in the other stuff. (CL2.382, AM1.324)

Canadian whiskey is a distilled grain spirit made in Canada; while a tad trite and
simplistic, this definition still has room for confusion. As with whiskey in the United
States after the American Revolution, whiskey in Canada was primarily made from
maize (corn), and to a lesser extent wheat, barley, rye, etc. Distillers in Canada began
to add rye to the mash for flavor, which was well-received by customers. Eventually
Canadian whiskey became known interchangeably as rye whiskey—even if, as was
sometimes the case, the Canadian distiller included no rye in the mash at all.

High-Ball (Whiskey-and-Soda)
I find a bit of crushed mint in whiskey sours and certain
kinds of high-balls adds a great deal to the taste. (CL3.439)

Sit down and I’ll order some whiskey-and-sodas.
- “The Yellow Cobra” (FI2.197)

[...] the back room of the Purple Dragon Bar where Wild
Bill Clanton sat sipping a whiskey-and-soda [....]
- “The Dragon of Kao Tsu,” (SA 81)

The high-ball is one of the most basic family of cocktails: they consist of a distilled
spirit (the base) diluted in carbonated water. Famous high-balls include the gin-and-
tonic, cuba libre, and scotch-and-soda. Technically, the addition of mint to a high-ball
would make it a smash.

Use a fizz glass.

1 or 2 small lumps of ice.
1 wine glass of Plymouth gin. [2 fl. oz. / 60 ml]

Fill the glass with ice cold syphon seltzer.

If customer requires whiskey or brandy, mix in the same manner.

This, without doubt, is the blue ribbon long drink in which an alcoholic fluid is
a factor.

Source: DBE 44

Whalem was shaking up a cocktail and I felt instinctively
that he had taken my pocket book while I lay unconscious.
(CL1.319)
63

Jersey Cream
After downing a finger of Old Jersey Cream [...]
- “Waterfront Fists” (FI2.115)

Sold bottled-in-bond with an attractive picture of a dairy maid and her Jersey cow on
the label, Jersey Cream whiskey was a straight whiskey distilled in Kentucky, and sold
by L. Eppstein & Son of Fort Worth, Texas. The wholesaler closed with the advent of
Prohibition, and took the brand along with it.

Mint Julep
You ought to see the mint bed just west of the kitchen
window. I believe it makes the best juleps in the world. My
method of making mint juleps is unconventional, but they
satisfy me, and I’m not trying to please anybody else, as I
once profanely told a Kentuckian who criticized my technique.
I find a bit of crushed mint in whiskey sours and certain
kinds of high-balls adds a great deal to the taste. (CL3.439)

The mint julep is a classic bourbon cocktail, and like all good cocktails is easy to mix
and fun to experiment with. Many variant recipes exist in contemporary cocktail
books, adding or substituting brandy, cognac, rum, champagne, or other whiskeys;
even seltzer. Most of them seem enamored of decorating with fruit. Robert E. Howard,
from the evidence, probably preferred a relatively simple recipe like the following. The
Kentuckyian’s issue may have been with the type of mint he used—spearmint is
traditional, but peppermint can also be used, and also grows in Texas—or his method.

2 oz. bourbon [60 ml]
1 tsp. sugar [5 ml]
4 sprigs mint

Mash with muddler. Fill the silver mug with shaved ice. Stir until the outside of
the mug is frosted. Decorate with sprigs of mint and serve with straws. Add
green cherry.

Source: SCBB 106

Poitín
Hurra for Brian Boru, St. Brandon, Jack McAuliffe, John
MacCormick, Mike McTigue and ivry other, shillalah wavin’,
potheen swiggin’, wild Irishman who iver hilped make the
auld isle famous! (CL1.52)

[...] the Scots made a place for him and a shock-headed gilly
filled his cup with the fiery potheen so relished by the Gaels.
- “Tigers of the Sea” (SN 430)

Poitín (also poteen, potheen, potcheen, etc.) is an Irish whisky, typically made locally
on a small scale in a pot-still, sometimes illicitly to avoid tax duties. The mash may
contain potatoes, treacle, or other non-grain fermentables; for the latter reasons,
poitín is often compared to American moonshine. The “rare auld mountain dew”
formed a distinctive element in Irish culture, and Robert E. Howard likely picked up
on it from his interest in Irish myth and literature.
64

Rye
It knocked me blind and kicking, and if it hadn’t been for
nearly half a pint of Canadian rye whiskey I drank at the
same time, I believe it would have wound my clock. The rye
fought the poison in the other stuff. (CL2.382, AM1.324)

The infant sat up in the cradle and took a long tug at a
bottle marked with three “X’s”, meanwhile eying us in a
most venomous manner. 13 [...] “It’s good red rye,” rumbled
the infant in a deep bass voice, glaring at us menacingly,
and slowly rocking his cradle. (CL2.341)

Here’s a jug with about a gallon of red licker left in it.
- “The Riot at Cougar Paw” (ABE1.172)

That made him so mad that he busted a bottle of good rye
whiskey over my head. Annoyed at such wanton waste of good
licker [...]
- “Circus Fists” (FI3.3)

Rye whiskey is made from a mash that is predominantly rye; it was more common in
northeastern states and Canada than in the south. By appearance, rye whiskey can be
difficult to differentiate from other whiskeys, but red rye has a distinctly more reddish
hue, the result of using roasted rye malt, which is called red rye malt. In taste, rye
tends to be drier and spicier than maize-based whiskeys like bourbon. Prohibition hit
rye harder than bourbon; the vast majority of the distilleries did not reopen after
repeal. Rye was called for specifically in many cocktails, such as the Old Fashioned.

The Old Fashioned Cocktail

Take a small tumbler and put into it 1 lump of sugar [1 tsp / 5 ml],
4 dashes of Angostura Bitters [4 ml], 1 lump of ice, 1 glass Rye Whisky
[4 fl. oz. / 120 ml], 1 slice of orange and a cherry.

Stir well until Sugar is dissolved, then squeeze lemon peel on top and
serve in same glass as used for mixing.

Source: 1CC 20

The crowd cheered but the stranger sneered,
As he stepped to the waiting bar,
And he took a swig of whiskey, neat 14
- “The Cooling of Spike McRue” (WOD 8)

13
The presence of one or more “X” on a cask of beer was part of an old European grading system, where more X’s
indicated greater strength, up to XXX, and was used as an advertising gimmick for beer brands like Pearl. As a
motif, this was appropriated for American whiskey in some (typically humorous) contexts. Several beer brands
such as Pearl also incorporate Xs into their marketing and labeling.
14
“Neat” is a bar term, meaning served without ice, water, soda, or other mixer.
65

Scotch
[...] we found the captain’s private store of real Scotch
whiskey. We were fed up on trade-gin […]
- Untitled (PA 230)

Then I got to wondering if I could still like trade-rum
after drinking Scotch whisky. I tasted it. It was still
suited to my taste. Then I wondered how they would taste
together.
- Untitled (PA 230-231)

Scotch whisky is subject to different regulation than American whiskeys, and while
the processes are often similar or identical, have many idiosyncratic quirks. For
example, Scotch distillers can re-use oak barrels that have already been used to age
American whiskeys, while American distillers are required to use new oak barrels, and
Scotch malt can be heated over a peat-fire; both of these differences affect the final
flavor—and don’t get into any of the other technical differences in material (water,
malt, etc.) and technique. Suffice to say, Scotch whisky is its own distinct product;
sales were strong in the United States before and after Prohibition, and even during
Prohibition Scotch sales to Americans were brisk through Britain’s ties to Canada and
its Caribbean possessions.

Haig & Haig
The only brand of Scotch that Howard mentions by name is Haig & Haig, a blended
Scotch whisky out of Markinich, Scotland, probably best remembered for their Pinch,
which came in distinctive dimpled bottles. The whiskey is still produced today,
although the brand has become simply Haig.

Hot Scotch Whiskey Punch

Use hot whiskey glass.

1 lump of loaf sugar. [5 ml]
Half fill the glass with hot water. [2 fl. oz. / 60 ml]
Dissolve the sugar.
1 slice of lemon.
Fill the glass with Scotch whiskey. [2 fl. oz. / 60 ml]
Stir with spoon, grate a little nutmeg on top, and serve.

Source: DBE 64

Whiskey Sour
[...] and barely quenched my thirst in El Paso with a
whiskey sour, a gin fizz, a glass of Burgundy, a Harry
Mitchell Special McGinty, and a bottle of A-B-C.
(CL3.337)

I find a bit of crushed mint in whiskey sours and certain
kinds of high-balls adds a great deal to the taste.
(CL3.439)
66

Sours are some of the most basic cocktails. Sugar is converted into alcohol by
fermentation, but the fermentation is often incomplete, leaving considerable sugar
leftover; some of this sugar remains after distillation, so many distilled spirits like rum
and whiskey tend to be sweet, while others have less remaining sugar and are
comparatively dry. Acidic juices, such as from lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit,
can complement a sweet liquor (like how lemonade combines lemon juice and sugar);
drier spirits may add sugar to better balance against the sourness of the fruit juice.

1 part Rye Whisky [2 fl. oz. / 60 ml]
Juice of 1/2 lime
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon Powdered Sugar [2-3 ml]

Source: 1CC 20
Bacchus was my banner, (CL1.252)

Wine
One thing, I can get good beer here which is what I need. I
haven’t tasted beer for six months and have been drunk only
twice—once on wine elixir and once on corn whiskey. Outside
of that I’ve had three small drinks of whiskey and one of
wine, which is all the liquor that’s passed my lips in six
months. (CL2.10)

But I made up for that with rotten whiskey and green wine—
gagh! I remember once a couple of fellows and I finished a
gallon of the latter out on a lonely ranch in the hills one
night. One of them was just getting over being poisoned on
rot gut whiskey and couldn’t drink much, and the other
passed out in a hurry, so I drank by far the greater part
of that gallon over a short period of time—Judas T.
Iscariot, it was awful stuff. No light wine business about
it; I’d be afraid to guess how much alcohol was in it.
Enough to ultimately knock me on my neck. But before I
toppled there was, as the poet says, a sound of revelry by
night, mingled with occasional sounds of strife and some
picturesque profanity. (CL3.133-134)

There is only one kind of wine my mother cares much about,
and that is the port bottled by Ludwig Borauer at his
winery in Fredericksburg, so I went to the town to get some
of it. It is fine wine, the best I ever drank anywhere,
though I believe his tokay suits my taste just a bit better
than the other. Anyway, the Fredericksburg wine is far
superior to any of the California wine we get here, just as
Texas oranges and grapefruit are superior to anything grown
in California, or Florida either, for that matter.
(CL3.432)

Wine is red and women are soft [...]
- “The Shadow Kingdom” (CS 6)
67

Let me live deep while I love; let me know the rich juices
of red meat and stinging wine on my palate [...]
- “Queen of the Black Coast” (CC 1.133)

Wine is a curse—but by the ivory bosom of Ishtar, even as I
speak of it, the traitor is here!
- “The Scarlet Citadel” (CC 1.105)

The wine was pleasant to the palate, but no more heady than
dish water.
- Untitled draft (CC 2.325)

Soft bellied fools sitting on velvet cushions with naked
girls offering them iced wine on their knees—I know the
breed. 15
- “Beyond the Black River” (CS 389)

Wine is an alcoholic beverage fermented from fruit, and in general usage is practically
synonymous with wine made from grapes. Fruit contains its own sugars (fructose), so
fermentation proceeds directly from pressed fruit juice, rather than requiring the
conversion of starches into sugars as with grain or starchy vegetables. In practice this
makes wine rather easy to make, and often has a higher percentage of alcohol by
volume than beer. As with beer the Volstead Act contained no provisions for the
making of homemade wine—but aided and abetted by vintners, who turned to legal
methods of utilizing their fruit, such as the production and sale of grape juice and
wine blocks; a few skipped the middleman and produced wine elixirs and wine-based
tonics, seeking to circumvent the Prohibition Act by selling them as patent medicines.

One of the oldest alcoholic beverages, wine has innumerable varieties; dependent upon
the type of grapes used, the region where they are grown (as the qualities of the soil
and climate can affect the final flavor, a concept called terroir), how they are aged or
blended together, etc. Most of these aren’t relevant to wine produced in the United
States before or immediately after Prohibition, as there was little legislative oversight.
Based on his descriptions of wines, Robert E. Howard would have primarily recognized
wine by color: red wines are made by combining grape pulp, seeds, juice, and skins
together in the must, the juice and pulp are generally clear or pale, so it is the skins
that provide the color and some of the flavor; white wine is made by filtering and
decanting the skins and other materials out of the must before fermentation. Both red
and white wines may be dry or sweet, depending on the individual grape varieties and
other details of production. Adding a distilled spirit like brandy produces a fortified
wine like sherry or port, and therefore have a higher alcoholic content; flavoring a
fortified wine with herbs or spices produces an aromatized wine like vermouth, which
finds its way into many cocktails as a flavoring agent, similar to bitters.

Wine had a greater hold on Robert E. Howard’s imagination than his palate; his
historical and fantasy fiction is replete with wine, which is downed by the goblet and
the demijohn, and it appears from contemporary India to Europe, Almuric to
Aquilonia. Like ale and mead, the Texan recognized wine as an antique spirit, the stuff

15
Cold helps cut the sweetness of some wines, though here it is used as an example of ice as a luxury.
68

drank by the heroes of the Iliad and the Bible, medieval knights, Crusaders, and
Shakespeare’s John Falstaff. In his life, however, it seems that though he sampled
several varieties on his travels, he never developed as much of a taste for wine as he
did for beer or whiskey.

This is understandable when you remember that for most of Howard’s life he would be
drinking home-brewed wine, which was apt to be a rough, unaged, and likely cloudy
product. Importation of wine was limited by the wine pest of the late 19th century and
then World War I, both of which devastated European wine production. While it
recovered, Prohibition largely prevented both importation and commercial domestic
production. When we get accounts of Howard drinking wine in his letters, it is
generally either homebrewed, in Mexico, or after repeal.

Burgundy
It is merely a result of being too full of beer, Burgundy
wine and a peculiarly potent blackberry brandy liqueur I
discovered in Socorro, New Mexico. (CL3.332)

I’d drunk nothing but muscatel wine and beer throughout the
whole trip, and was in a mood to do some fancy swigging,
but Vinson said he didn’t feel like it, so I drank only a
whiskey sour, a Harry Mitchell Special McGinty and a glass
of Burgundy wine, and we went to the shows.
(CL3.355-356, AM2.874-875)

France names its wines after the regions from which they are made; hence, Burgundy
wines are from the province of Burgundy, regardless of what grapes they use.
Elsewhere, the name is often appropriated for wines in the general style of Burgundy
wines, for example dry red wines made from pinot noir grapes, or white wines made
from chardonnay grapes. Today, these American-made wines would more likely be
labeled and advertised by their grape variety. What Howard drank a glass of was likely
a California burgundy; today, the equivalent would probably be a California pinot noir.

Californian Wine
Anyway, the Fredericksburg wine is far superior to any of
the California wine we get here, just as Texas oranges and
grapefruit are superior to anything grown in California, or
Florida either, for that matter. (CL3.432)

Padres Wine Elixir was a favorite of mine in my younger and
more unregenerate days. It is bottled in California, and is
merely a cheap grade of red wine, with enough drugs in it
to make it nominally a tonic. Those drugs change it from a
mere low-grade wine to a demon-haunted liquor. It never
hits you twice the same way, and will eventually affect
your heart. Pay no attention to the amount of alcohol
stamped on the label; it varies from bottle to bottle. I
have drunk three bottles and gotten no more cock-eyed than
I have with half a bottle on another occasion. If you keep
it cold it tastes slightly better, but when it’s hot it has
a more lethal kick. (CL2.382, AM1.324)
69

Prohibition dropped the bottom out of commercial wine-making in the United States,
most of which involved California, which had a history of winemaking dating back to
Spanish settlement. The Volstead Act, however, opened up the possibility of
homemade winemaking, and as the demand for grapes used in making fine wines fell,
the demand for fresh grapes for juice skyrocketed. Many California vineyards
consequently uprooted their old stocks and planted juice varieties to supply the
homemade wine movement.

While grape-growers did well, vintners struggled: limited wine production was allowed
for sacramental wines, some continued to ferment their grapes to provide wine elixir
(nominally a medicinal tonic), and others produced “wine bricks” or “wine blocks”—
grape concentrate (often with stems, skins, seeds, and all) for easy production of
homemade wine. After repeal, the shift in production back to wine was accompanied
by a flood of cheaply made young wines of all varieties; it is not surprising that
Howard had a relatively poor opinion of California wine.

Champagne
“There is no real enjoyment in life.” said Howard, taking a
long swig of cold, sparkling wine. [...] (CL3.495)

Sparkling wines are carbonated, either as a natural part of the fermentation process
or through the injection of carbon dioxide (as with carbonated soft drinks or soda
water). The most famous sparkling wine is champagne, which is traditionally made in
the French province of the same name; winemakers outside of France often use the
label “champagne” for their sparkling wines, and in the United States was almost a
generic term. Howard almost certainly would not have known the difference.

The stored carbon dioxide gas remains under pressure in bottles of sparkling wine,
which causes the distinctive “pop” when the bottle is opened (sometimes with great
showmanship, as when champagne bottles are opened with a sabre). Champagne is a
suitable basis for many cocktails, and doesn’t need soda water as it is already fizzy.

Champagne Cocktail

Use a champagne goblet.

Take a lump of sugar. [1 tsp. / 5 g]
3 dashes of Angostura bitters. [3 ml]
1 small lump of ice.

Fill the goblet with wine, stir with a spoon, twist a piece of lemon on top,
and serve.

1/2 pint of wine is suitable for one cocktail. [8 fl. oz. / 240 ml]

This is the cream of all morning cocktails, and under no circumstances
should anything but the best of imported champagne be used, and the
drink should be ice-cold and consumed slowly.

Source: DBE 62
70

Indian Wine
[...] enormous gulps of Indian wine.
- “The King’s Service” (SN 496)

Winemaking has been an activity on the Indian subcontinent for thousands of years,
although largely prescribed in the parts of the country under Islamic rule, and was
highly encouraged during British occupation and administration. The phylloxera (wine
pest) epidemic struck the country hard during the late 19th century, and winemaking
took a long time to recover, making Indian wine generally unavailable. While Howard
was accurate in the depiction of Indian wines as a detail in stories like “The King’s
Service,” he probably never had the opportunity to taste any himself.

Muscatel
I’d drunk nothing but muscatel wine and beer throughout the
whole trip, and was in a mood to do some fancy swigging
(CL3.355, AM2.874)

In late 19th century California, a popular sweet fortified wine was produced called
angelica; one variant was not technically wine at all, but consisted of unfermented
sweet grape juice fortified with brandy or grape spirit (brandy distilled until it is a clear
spirit). This was very cheap, had a relatively high proof, and with the high residual
sugar, very sweet. When done with muscat grape juice, it was called muscatel (which
was otherwise a generic name for any wine made from muscat grapes). The demand
for wine after Prohibition exceeded immediate supply, as vineyards replanted and
vintners went back into operation or new vintners sensed an opportunity to enter the
field. Muscatel, either as a fortified wine or fortified grape juice, was a cheap but
effective intoxicant. It quickly gained a pour reputation for quality, like many of the
“rush products” that came out of the end of Prohibition—which is probably what left
Howard in a mood to search for something better.

Port
There is only one kind of wine my mother cares much about,
and that is the port bottled by Ludwig Borauer at his
winery in Fredericksburg, so I went to the town to get some
of it. It is fine wine, the best I ever drank anywhere
(CL3.432)

Port is a fortified wine produced in certain regions of Portugal; like many European
wines that take their name from a place rather than a grape variety or taste, there are
many different types of port, but commonly it is a sweet red wine; the addition of grape
spirits halts fermentation, leaving a full-bodied wine with an alcohol content typically
around 20%. Also like many European wines, the name is commonly appropriated by
American vintners for their own products.

Ludwig Vorauer immigrated to Texas in 1913, part of a flood of German immigrants to
Texas that preceded World War I. They founded towns like New Braunfels, New Berlin,
and Fredericksburg, and many set to brewing beer and making wine. After Prohibition
Vorauer opened the Texas Winery there (it was officially licensed in 1937). The family
closed the winery in 1955, making it difficult to say exactly what types of grapes went
into Vorauer’s port; however the Frederisckburg Winery still in town also makes a port
wine, which may be as close as can be found today.
71

Hester Jane Ervin Howard or her son might have taken their port neat, or they may
have mixed it into a punch.

Port Wine Punch

One glass full of fine ice, one half tablespoonful of sugar [7-8 ml], one
tablespoonful of syrup [15 ml], one or two dashes of lemon juice [1-2 ml], one
half wine glass full of water [1 fl. oz.], dissolve well with sugar and lemon, fill up
with Port wine, mix well with spoon and serve with a straw.

Source: 101D 36

Sherry
Gowtu, a cup of sack. (CL1.330)

In every tavern they soured the sack,
- “Big Ben” from Tales of the Mermaid Tavern by Alfred
Noyes, as quoted by Robert E. Howard (CL2.346)

He had brought me a bottle of sherry wine and a bottle of
Aguardiente from Juarez, and as I had provided a case of
beer beforehand, we didn’t lack for liquid entertainment.
(CL3.372)

And many a pipe of sharp Canary wine;
- “Drake Sings of Yesterday” (AWOD 158)

Sherry (historically also known as sack) is a fortified wine made in and around Jerez
la Frontera in Andalusia, Spain; it is much-appreciated by many wine experts and
enthusiasts, and has a rich body of technical terminology surrounding its styles and
variations. The most famous sherry is Amontillado, due to its inclusion in Edgar Allan
Poe’s classic tale “The Cask of Amontillado”; similar fortified wines were made on the
Canary Islands. In the Americas “sherry” is semi-generic, and might be applied to
sherry, brandy made in Jerez, or locally-made fortified wines. E. Hoffmann Price,
however, appreciated a drink, and it would not be a surprise if he and his wife picked
up a bottle of authentic Spanish sherry to share with their Texas friend. Price might
even have shown Howard how to mix a new cocktail—and dared him to drink it.

Sherry and Egg

Use a fancy stem glass.

Pour a small quantity of wine into the glass to prevent the egg from
sticking to the glass; then break a fresh egg into the glass, place the
glass on the bar, and fill it with sherry wine, and serve.

For a person who is run down, or threatened with nervous debility, there
is no decoction so far discovered which can equal it as a stimulant, it
being one of the instances where it is quality not quantity that counts.

Source: DBE 19
72

Shirazi
But now the twilight rests like a golden foam of light on
the domes and spires and mosques of the Imperial City, and
in the blue-domed seraglio, the harem favorite beguiles the
sultan with pop-corn balls dipped in Shiraz wine [...]
(CL3.508)

[...] quaffing deep the Shiraz liquor [...]
- “Hawks Over Egypt” (SW 36)

[...] a goblet of Shiraz wine [...]
- “Gates of Empire” (SW 148)

“Wine of Shiraz, sahib, and food.”
- “Three-Bladed Doom” (EB 123)

Spilt like a skin of Shiraz wine
- “Nisapur” (ACE 94)

Shiraz is a city in Iran, and for centuries enjoyed a high reputation for its locally
produced wines, a tradition that continued throughout Robert E. Howard’s lifetime,
but ended after Prohibition of a different character: the Islamic Revolution of 1979. As
religious authorities took control of the country, the wineries of Iran closed. Howard
would have been familiar with Shirazi wine mostly through his interest in Asia and the
Middle East, and used it as a detail of local color for fiction set in those areas.

The issue with Islam and its prohibition of alcohol occasioned at least one curious
incident: in Robert E. Howard’s story “Lord of Samarcand” (Oriental Stories Spring
1932), Howard depicts several Muslim characters drinking to excess; which
occasioned a reader’s rebuke in the letters column, “The Souk.” Farnsworth Wright
stepped in as editor to explain the historical accuracy of Howard’s position, and the
Texan wrote a letter in thanks—which, due to a quirk of editing, appeared in the first
issue of The Magic Carpet Magazine (Jan 1933):

Thanks very much for the remarks and quotations in the Souk
by which you corroborate the matter of Timour’s wine-
bibbing. I welcome and appreciate criticisms in the spirit
of Mr. Bell’s, though, as you point out, he chances to be
mistaken in the matter of Timour and others. But criticisms
of this nature promote discussions helpful and instructive
to all. In regard to Moslem drinking, I understand that the
Seventeenth Century Tatars of Crimea, before imbibing,
spilled a drop of wine from the vessel and drank the
remainder, declaring that since the Prophet forbade tasting
a drop of wine, they thus obeyed the command. They spilled
the drop and drank the rest. Many modern Moslems maintain
that they disobey no holy law by drinking brandy and
whisky, since the Prophet said nothing about these
beverages—proving that Christians are not the only people
on earth to wriggle out of laws by technicalities.
(CL2.487, cf.398-399)
73

The Texan later recast these sentiments in story form:

None of the Moslems objected at the presence of the
forbidden liquid among them. Indeed, they eyed it
wistfully, and at his invitation, laid aside their coffee-
cups and drank heartily at his expense.

“Good Muhammadans, yeah!” he snorted. “When the Prophet
forbade wine he didn’t mention brandy; so they stuff their
guts with it.”
- “Desert Blood” (SA 48)

Shirazi wine should not be confused with modern “Shiraz” wines; these are
contemporary styles of wine made from the Shiraz (Syrah) grape variety, and are
unrelated to the old Iranian vintages.

Sour Wine
The wine in my cup is bitter dregs,
- “Song From An Ebony Heart” (CL1.244)

[...] washed down by gallons of sour wine [...]
- “Fists of the Revolution” (FI4.268)

I would give much for a horn of ale, but this wine is not
sour to the palate [...]
-“The Gods of Bal-Sagoth” (SN 330)

Wine is produced when yeast converts the sugars in fruit juice into ethanol; vinegar is
produced when bacteria in the wine causes that ethanol to convert into acetic acid. All
wines contain acetic acid to some degree, but sour wines are those that are further
along in the process, and are often the result of poor winemaking or improper storage
when aging, which encourage the growth of acerobacteria.

Spanish Wine
I got hold of some pure Spanish wine that would knock a mule
down. A couple of big glasses, and I was ready to lick all
the Yankees in the Valley. (CL2.299)

[…] my main occupation being the wholesale consumption of
tortillas, enchiladas and Spanish wine. (CL2.319)

I aided Pablo’s atrocities with some wine bottled in Spain
that kicked like an army mule, and eventually came to the
conclusion that the Border is a place only for men with
cast-iron consciences and copper bellies.
(CL2.459, AM1.436)

The main selling point of Spanish wine to Robert E. Howard was probably availability,
since Mexico had no Prohibition and freely imported wine from Spain, it would have
been readily available—as would local Mexican varieties; it isn’t clear if Howard could
tell the difference, nor does he go into any more detail, but given its pairing with
Mexican food, a dry white wine probably would have complemented the food best.
74

Spiced Wine
[...] soon returned with slaves who bore a great bowl of
spiced wine—prepared in the Syrian way, said the scribe,
and the steaming scent of it was pleasant.
- “The Blood of Belshazzar” (SW 221)

I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house,
who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of
spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.
- The Song of Solomon 8:2 (King James Version)

There are several ancient traditions of wines flavored by the addition of spices and
aromatic substances, but from Howard’s description he seems to be combining
Biblical allusion with, perhaps, the English tradition of mulled wine, which was
spiced and served hot and steaming. One recipe for mulled wine comes from How to
Mix Drinks, Or, The Bon-Vivant's Companion (1862), which being out of copyright saw
its recipes reprinted in many places during Prohibition:

Mulled Wine
(In verse.)

"First, my dear madam, you must take
Nine eggs, which carefully you'll break—
Into a bowl you'll drop the white,
The yolks into another by it.
Let Betsy beat the whites with switch,
Till they appear quite frothed and rich—
Another hand the yolks must beat
With sugar, which will make them sweet;
Three or four spoonfuls maybe 'll do, [3-4 tbsp. / 45-60 ml]
Though some, perhaps, would take but two.
Into a skillet next you'll pour
A bottle of good wine, or more— [750 ml]
Put half a pint of water, too, [475 ml]
Or it may prove too strong for you;
And while the eggs (by two) are beating,
The wine and water may be heating;
But, when it comes to boiling heat,
The yolks and whites together beat
With half a pint of water more—
Mixing them well, then gently pour
Into the skillet with the wine,
And stir it briskly all the time.
Then pour it off into a pitcher;
Grate nutmeg in to make it richer.
Then drink it hot, —for he's a fool,
Who lets such precious liquor cool." Detail of cartoon by Katherine
Preece in the Nov 1929
Source: HMD 54-55 issue of The Junto. Source:
The Last Celt 383
75

Tokaji
I believe his tokay suits my taste just a bit better than
the other. (CL3.432)

Tokaji (commonly spelled tokay in Howard’s lifetime) are wines from the Tokaj region
of Hungary and Slovakia, and have a worldwide reputation because of the quality of
the grapes and the climate conducive to growing them. Like many other European
regional conventions, the name “tokay” or “tokaji” has been adopted and applied to
many other wines outside of Europe, as well as to grape varieties associated with the
region and the wine made from them, which is likely what Howard was referring to.

Fantasy Vintages
Robert E. Howard applied his knowledge of alcoholic beverages to all of his fiction, but
it was in his fantastic lands that he allowed his imagination its fullest flower. The
vintages of Atlantis, Hyboria, and Almuric were sometimes precious and sometimes
cheap, and their effects varied from the mundane to the the miraculous, and they
could be of almost any color, from golden to green to crimson.

[...] the drink was a light crimson wine that carried a
heady tang.
- “Red Nails” (GL 435)

...drank deeply of a green wine which I found most
delicious and refreshing.
- “Almuric” (ASF 147)

“Drink a little of the golden wine—not much, or it will
make you drunk. It is the most powerful drink in the world.
Not even I can quaff that vessel without lying senseless
for hours. And you are unaccustomed to it.” I sipped a
little of it. It was indeed heady liquor.
- “Almuric” (ASF 155)

It contained a crimson wine-like liquor of a peculiar tang,
unfamiliar to him, but it was like nectar to his parched
gullet.
- “Xuthal of the Dusk” (CC1.224)

Some of these wines also made real the promises of tonics and patent medicines,
offering healing and health beyond the warmth of mere alcohol:

[...] stimulating their waking hour by means of the golden
wine which heals wounds, prolongs life, and invigorates the
most sated debauchee.
- “Xuthal of the Dusk” (CC1.231)

It may be a false strength this liquor has given me, but I
swear I am aware of neither pain nor weakness. [...] This
wine is like sorcery.
- “Xuthal of the Dusk” (CC1.246)
76

“Drink and fear not,” said the unseen voice. “It is only an
Egyptian wine with life-giving qualities.”
- “Skull-Face” (NC 258)

Somewhat unusually, Howard does not attribute alcohol with visions or increased
sensitivities, as his correspondent and fellow pulpster Clark Ashton Smith did in “A
Vintage from Atlantis” (Weird Tales Sep 1933), nor was it as potent and lethal as Lord
Dunsany’s mythical gorgondy in “The Secret of the
Sea” (The Last Book of Wonder 1916). Following the
conventions of real-world vintages, Howard also
associated wines and other drinks with specific
regions.

“...and guzzle wine of Kyros.”
- “The Hour of the Dragon”
(CC2.186)

“Bring me a tankard of Ghazan wine…”
[...] “He gulped the cheap wine with
relish…”
- “The Man-Eaters of Zamboula”
(CC3.180)

I’ll quaff a goblet of white
Nemedian wine for you at Numa’s
court.
- “The Phoenix on the Sword”
(CC3.13)

[...] and a vessel of hammered gold,
filled with yarati beer.
- “The Vale of Lost Women”
(CC1.304)

The bars and taverns in Howard’s fantasy tales are
not in any way restricted to wine; Conan drinks ale
(CC 1.62) and beer (CC 1.305), and Aquilonians
smuggle “strong liquor” to the Picts (CC 1.8) which
parallels the sale of distilled spirits like gin, rum,
and whiskey to Native Americans; but many of the
finer details are never dwelt upon. Wine, ale, and
beer were the drinks of the oldest epics that
Howard would have read, and the settings were set
in ancient days. Ale and beer were the drinks
Howard would have been most familiar with, and
perhaps lacked the mystique attributed to wine in
story and legend.
Source: CPR 30 Aug 1935 (1).

“Slaying is cursed dry work.”
- “The Phoenix on the Sword” (CC1.26)
77

Closing Hymns

I was once, I declare, a grog-shop man The tall man rose and said:
And I lolled in the cool of a bar; “I drink to all who live and die,
I have known, I will swear, in a new “To tribes unborn and races gone.
life’s span, “But triply to those men drink I
A desert where no springs are. “Who dying, still live on and on.”
For far over all that folks hold dear
In me there lives and leaps The small blond man rose and said:
A love of the lovely stuff called beer, “To all the men who died in vain,
A passion for foaming deeps. “To they who still in vain shall die,
To fill my glass with no paltry plan, “I drink. Their souls shall rise again
To guzzle and swig at will, “To break the earth and burst the
To mock at the raging revenue man sky.”
And steep my soul in swill.
To scorn all strife and view all life The tall blond man rose and said:
With the goofy eyes of a drunk, “Golden gleam of a bitter cup,
From the dizzy sea to the hangman’s “Wine of death that the gods have
tree, kist;
From the saint to the heart of the “Worlds may falter or wenches sup —
skunk. “Drink to the morn stars and the
From the boozy king to the beggar mist.”
stewed,
From gin to the saki stall, The younger man rose and said:
For I know that the beer for good was “Drink with me to the sledge of Thor!
brewed “Drink to the temples overthrown!
And I want to drink it all. “The babble of priests sounds out afar
To drink it all! The good brown beer, “But still in the dark I stand alone.”
From the pub to society ball,
With never a bouncer to kick my rear The dark man rose and said with a
Or slam me with a maul. laugh:
With pink D.T.s I will pay the wage, “I was young when dawns were young,
But leave my guzzling free, “Worlds shall fade when I am old.
“Drink! The bitter world is cold!
For once I know in a bygone age “Drink to songs that Satan sung.”
They made a Dry of me.

- Robert E. Howard to Tevis Clyde - Robert E. Howard to Tevis
Smith, June 1930 (CL2.46) Clyde Smith, 1928 (CL1.300-301)

There from the flowing bowl
Deep drinks the Viking’s soul!
Skoal! To the Northland! Skoal!
Thus the tale ended.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Skeleton in Armour”
as quoted by Robert E. Howard (CL1.203)
78

Citations
101D One Hundred and One Drinks As They Are Mixed: Recipes for Cocktails and
Other Beverages
1CC Little Blue Book No. 1688: 100 Cocktails: How to Make Them and What to Eat
With Them
ABE The Adventures of Breckinridge Elkins (2 vols.)
ACE Always Comes Evening
AM A Means to Freedom: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard (2
vols.)
ASF Adventures in Science-Fantasy
AWOD A Word from the Outer Dark
B&T Blood & Thunder: the Life and Art of Robert E. Howard (2nd ed.)
BOD The Book of the Dead| Friends of Yesteryear: Fictioneers & Others
CL The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard (3 vols. + Index & Addenda)
CC Conan of Cimmeria (3 vols.)
CPR The Cross Plains Review (newspaper)
CS Crimson Shadows: The Best of Robert E. Howard Vol. 1
DBE Daly’s Bartender’s Encyclopedia: A Pre-Prohibition Cocktail Book
DBP Don’t Blame the Python
EB El Borak and Other Desert Adventures
EIH Echoes from an Iron Harp
ES Essential Solitude: The Collected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth
(2 vols.)
FI Fists of Iron: The Collected Boxing Fiction of Robert E. Howard (4 vols.)
GL Grim Lands: The Best of Robert E. Howard Vol. 2
HB Home Beverages: How to Make Them
HMD How to Mix Drinks, Or, The Bon-Vivant's Companion
NB Nelson’s Blood: The Story of Naval Rum
NC Nameless Cults
PA Pirate Adventures
POSR Post Oaks and Sand Roughs
SA Spicy Adventures
SCBB The Stork Club Bar Book
SFP “So Far the Poet…” & Other Writings
SK Savage Tales of Solomon Kane
SN Swords of the North
SW Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures
WOD Writer of the Dark

Additional details on various brewers are available in Rob Roehm’s Onion Top in
REHupa mailings 202 and 204. Below: Sample ballot from CPR 25 Aug 1933 (5).
79

Recipe Index
Aguardiente Sour 25
Bacardi Cocktail 53
Bourbon Smash 61
Brandy Cocktail 45
Brännvin Split 36
Champagne Cocktail 69
Cognac Sangaree 46
Gin Fizz 46
Grog 54
High Ball 62
Hot Scotch Whiskey Punch 65
Malt Syrup Beer 31
Mint Cocktail 57
Mint Julep 63
Mojito Highball 55
Mulled Wine 74
Old Fashioned 64
Port Wine Punch 71 Detail from Hugh Rankin’s illustration
Rum and Molasses 53 for “The Harp of Alfred” in WEIRD
Shandy Gaff 34 TALES (Sep 1928).
Sherry and Bitters 44
Sherry and Egg 71 He revived the old Western custom
The Thunderbolt 50 of shooting up the joint, and
Vodka Collins 58 mixing whiskey with gun-smoke and
Whiskey Cobbler 49 flying lead is no combination for
Whiskey Sour 66 a peaceable man. (CL3.303)

Too bad beer affects you unpleasantly. I eat and drink like a
horse, and I’ve never observed that it affected my work, although
I turn out quite a bit of material myself. (CL3.213)

Then Joan went to a cupboard and brought out a bottle, and
a cocktail shaker. “Just a little nip to celebrate your
coming victory,” she said. “I don’t drink—seldom ever—but
this is a special occasion. You don’t mind if I mix up a
cocktail, do you?”
- “The Folly of Conceit” (FI1.309)

Detail from C. C. Senf’s illustration for “The Dark Man” in WEIRD TALES (Dec 1931).
80

Illustration for “A Gent From Bear Creek” in ACTION STORIES (Oct 1934)

Detail from illustration for “Murderer’s Grog” in
SPICY-ADVENTURE STORIES (Jan 1937)

I’ve done learnt not to jedge
outsiders by the way they takes
their licker on Bear Creek. It
takes a Bear Creek man to swig Bear
Creek corn juice.
- A GENT FROM BEAR CREEK (ABE2.179)

(Right) Detail from illustration for
“She Devil” in SPICY-ADVENTURE
STORIES (Apr 1936)