Home Today's Reason to Drink August 22: Dorothy Parker’s Birthday

August 22: Dorothy Parker’s Birthday

It’s Dorothy Parker’s Birthday. Born in 1893, Dottie, as her friends called her, was a columnist, writer, critic, cultural zeitgeist and prominent member of the Algonquin Round Table. So what did Dottie like to drink? Well, she started up in earnest during National Prohibition, so she had to take what she could get. “Just a little one,” she’d tell speakeasy companions, unironically at first. She first courted the most readily available suitor, bootleg gin, usually in the form of a dry Martini. She came to like Martinis so much she took to drinking them from noon to night “as if she were having ice tea on a hot day.” She didn’t mind wine, thought champagne rather fine, but couldn’t tolerate beer. Lesser suitors had to stand aside once Parker met Scotch, however. It quickly became Dottie’s steady beau; she might flirt with other liquors at parties, but it was Scotch she took home. She preferred Haig and Haig neat when she could afford it, (Bootleggers routinely charged $12 a bottle, an outrageous sum at the time), but would settle for the locally produced rotgut in a pinch. This ersatz “Scotch” was so rotten she once mistook a real case of appendicitis for the usual after-effects of putting away a bottle the night before. Her hangovers, which she called, “the rams,” were so magnificent she declared they “ought to be kept in the Smithsonian under glass.” Besieged by clinical depression her entire life, Parker sporadically entertained the idea of committing suicide but managed to drink enough to keep the urge at bay and live to the respectable age of 73.

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