Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | December 12, 2011

Hemingway’s Green Isaacs Special

Phil Greene of Museum of the American Cocktail is working on a new book about Papa Ernest Hemingway and the drinks that helped define his life. I got to talk to him at the DC Craft Bartenders Guild’s fourth annual Repeal Day Ball earlier this month and we spoke about one of my favorite Hemingway drinks:  the Green Isaacs Special.  Called a Tomini in Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream, it’s a brilliantly refreshing Caribbean take on a Tom Collins.

The following is from a post on Greene’s seminar on Hemingway cocktails:

From “Islands in the Stream,” guests enjoyed the Green Isaacs Special (named for the Isaacs Islands, just north of Bimini), and read from the novel:

“Where Thomas Hudson lay on the mattress his head was in the shade cast by the platform at the forward end of the flying bridge where the controls were and when Eddy came aft with the tall cold drink made of gin, lime juice, green coconut water, and chipped ice with just enough Angostura bitters to give it a rusty, rose color, he held the drink in the shadow so the ice would not melt while he looked out over the sea.”

Green Isaacs Special

2 oz Hendricks Gin
4 oz green coconut water (Vita Coco, available at Whole Foods)
1 oz lime juice
4 drops Angostura Bitters (or “just enough Angostura bitters to give it a rusty, rose color”)

Build in Collins glass.

I haven’t had this with Hendricks myself. I prefer my Green Isacs Special with a London dry gin like Beefeater.

Also, if you haven’t read Islands in the Stream, I highly recommend you give it a read. It’s semi-autobiographical, or at least very clearly inspired by Hemingway’s own life. The main character, Thomas Hudson, does some epic drinking of Papa Dobles at port in the book and spends time sport fishing on his beloved boat. It’s a great book, though somewhat heart-breaking. Definitely worth reading for Hemingway fans out there. And if you don’t like reading Hemingway, at least enjoy one of his cocktails.



  1. I need to re-introduce myself to Mr. Hemingway! He had a way with words AND libations.

  2. […] Hamlin introduces us to a lesser known drink from Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream called Green Isaacs Special. With gin, coconut water, lime, and Angostura bitters, it seems like a great way to channel this […]


    I thought I had come up with this myself! Lol! I like your discussion of the different types of gin. I used Tanguery – not for any particular reason. But I usually like Bombay Saphire for g & t’s. Take a look aty pics if you get the chance. Do you think I got it right ?

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