How to Drink, According to Hunter S. Thompson

Few writers are better known for their intoxicated work—or sheer booze intake—than Hunter S. Thompson. While he preached the benefits of acid, cocaine, cigarettes and a laundry list of other uppers and downers, the gonzo journalist had plenty of things to say about liquor as well.

Thompson occasionally required his interviewers to glug down Wild Turkey—one of his favorite whiskey brands—before he would answer their questions. While we won’t demand it, we do suggest sipping a good pour of bourbon while reading Thompson’s words of whiskey-soaked wisdom. Here, how to drink, according to Raoul Duke, aka Dr. Gonzo, aka Hunter S. Thompson.

General Quotes

Some of Thompson’s best boozy quotes came in the form of life lessons, encouraging his followers to drink as he did.

  • “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
  • “Good people drink good beer.”
  • “Sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whiskey and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind but falling in love and not getting arrested...Res ipsa loquitur. Let the good times roll.”
  • “Take it from me, there’s nothing like a job well done. Except the quiet enveloping darkness at the bottom of a bottle of Jim Beam after a job done any way at all.”

Thompson’s classic novel is known primarily for its portrayal of drug use, but booze also made a few appearances.

  • “The trunk of the car looked like a mobile police narcotics lab. We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers, and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug-collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.”
  • "What do you want? Where's the goddamn ice I ordered? Where's the booze? There's a war on, man! People are being killed!"
  • “Polo meant nothing to me when I was young. It was just another sport for the idle rich—golf on horseback—and on most days I had better things to do than hang around in a flimsy blue-striped tent on a soggy field far out on the River Road and drink gin with teenage girls. But that was the old days, and I have learned a lot since then. I still like to drink gin with teenage girls on a Sunday afternoon in horse country, and I have developed a natural, friendly feeling for the game.”

Thompson’s preferred spirit was whiskey—Chivas Regal with his morning newspapers and Wild Turkey every chance he got—but his second novel was all about rum. Set in San Juan in the 1950s, the book follows a New York sports reporter who moves to Puerto Rico, a vague recollection of Thompson’s own time on the island, spent drinking rum and hanging around with fellow reporters.

  • “We had no refrigerator and therefore no ice, so we drank hot rum out of dirty glasses.”
  • “It was a maddening image and the only way to whip it was to hang on until dusk and banish the ghosts with rum.”
  • “Cases of Champagne and scotch lay broken in the street, and everyone I saw had a bottle. They were screaming and dancing, and in the middle of the crowd a giant Swede wearing a blue jockstrap was blowing long blasts on a trumpet.”

From Other Books

  • “Let us toast to animal pleasures, to escapism, to rain on the roof and instant coffee, to unemployment insurance and library cards, to absinthe and good-hearted landlords, to music and warm bodies and contraceptives… and to the ‘good life’, whatever it is and wherever it happens to be.” — The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967
  • “Well … what the hell? We could always load up on acid and spend the day roaming around the grounds with big sketch pads, laughing hysterically at the natives and swilling Mint Juleps so the cops wouldn’t think we’re abnormal.” — “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved,” Scanlan’s Monthly

Personal Habits

Thompson’s quotations on liquor are nothing compared to his actual practices. Please, do not try this at home.

  • In HUNTER: The Strange and Savage Life of Hunter S. Thompson, biographer E. Jean Carroll described Thompson’s pre-work routine:
    3:00 p.m. rise
    3:05 Chivas Regal with the morning papers, Dunhills
    3:45 cocaine3:50 another glass of Chivas, Dunhill
    4:05 first cup of coffee, Dunhill
    4:15 cocaine
    4:16 orange juice, Dunhill
    4:30 cocaine
    4:54 cocaine
    5:05 cocaine
    5:11 coffee, Dunhills
    5:30 more ice in the Chivas
    5:45 cocaine, etc., etc.
    6:00 grass to take the edge off the day
    7:05 Woody Creek Tavern for lunch: Heineken, two Margaritas, coleslaw, a taco salad, a double order of fried onion rings, carrot cake, ice cream, a bean fritter, Dunhills, another Heineken, cocaine, and for the ride home, a snow cone (a glass of shredded ice over which is poured three or four jig­gers of Chivas)
    9:00 starts snorting cocaine seriously
    10:00 drops acid
    11:00 Chartreuse, cocaine, grass
    11:30 cocaine, etc, etc.
    12:00 midnight, Hunter S. Thompson is ready to write
    12:05-6:00 a.m. Chartreuse, cocaine, grass, Chivas, coffee, Heineken, clove cigarettes, grapefruit, Dunhills, orange juice, gin, continuous pornographic movies
    6:00 the hot tub-Champagne, Dove Bars, fettuccine Alfredo
    8:00 Halcyon
    8:20 sleep
  • On days when he wasn’t preparing to write, Thompson’s breakfast routine was a bit more restrained: “Four Bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crepes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned beef hash with diced chiles, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of Key lime pie, two Margaritas, and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert…”
  • And if his sumo-weight drinking habits ever did get the better of him, Thompson had a quick go-to hangover cure: 12 amyl nitrites and "as many beers as necessary."