Happy Birthday, Dashiell Hammett!

Ever want to drink like all the hard-boiled detectives and rogues depicted in classic pulp and noir stories?

Well, today is a perfect day for doing just that. Today is Dashiell Hammett’s birthday. He was born May 27, 1894.

There’s no official “Dashiell Hammett” cocktail that I know of, but the writer contributed more than a few things to drinking culture throughout the years.

His characters Nick and Nora appear in a series of mvoies, though Hammett wrote only one Thin Man novel. And then, of course, there is the Nick and Nora glass itself! 

Plus, Dashiell also gave us Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon and Ed Beaumont in The Glass Key, among many others.

Want to kill a few minutes? Click this link for a montage of booze-related scenes from the Nick and Nora movies.

The montage kicks off with Nick Charles instructing a group of guys on how to appropriately shake different drinks:

“The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. A Manhattan you shake to foxtrot, a Bronx to two-step time. A Dry Martini you always shake to waltz time.”

The scene where Nick marks time with the cocktail shaker isn’t in the original  novel,  but it is a part of Nick and Nora’s larger cinematic world — which will now be forever entwined with Hammett in general.

As I wrote earlier, there’s no official “Dasheill Hammett” cocktail that I know of, but in the book Classic Cocktails: A Modern Shake by Mark Kingwell, the last chapter (entitled “Spygames”) does conclude the book with a drink the writer dubs the “Dash Hammett.”

Kingwell writes the following passage about the drink:

In a final tribute, then, to an American original who appreciated a cocktail — if ultimately rather too many of them for his own good, a worthwhile note of caution here at the end — let’s stipulate a name change. There is no Spade, Hammett, or Thin Man cocktail that we know of. There is, however, an excellent drink that combines gin and scotch, the two favourite quaffs of the Hammett hard-men. We mean the so-called Smoky Martini. That’s six parts gin, one part dry vermouth, and a teaspoon of scotch, shaken with cracked ice and strained  into a chilled cocktail glass, lemon twist to garnish. (You can also dilute the scotch by washinbg it around the glass and discarding, rather than mixing in: the Scotch Wash.) 

It may never catch on with the rest of the world, but this drink will always be, for us, better known as the Dash Hammett.

About This Cocktail

The Dash Hammett is a smoky martini I read about in Mark Kingwell’s book called Classic Cocktails: A Modern Shake. It doesn’t specify brands or have any exotic ingredients, or even really all that many ingredients.


  • 6 parts gin
  • 1 part dry vermouth
  • 1 teaspoon smoky scotch
  • Lemon twist for garnish


Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled martini glass, or first rinse the glass with scotch — not shaking it with the gin and dry vermouth. Garnish with a lemon twist, expressing the oils over the drink and around the rim of the glass.

Further Reading:

— Here’s a write-up about Hammett and San Francisco Noir.

Leave a comment


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s