November 30: Wilde & Twain

Wilde-Twain November 30 is a very important day in the lives of two of the late 19th century’s greatest writers; as on November 30, 1835 Samuel “Mark Twain” Clemens was born and on November 30, 1900 Oscar Wilde died. Unfortunately, these two wits never had the opportunity to face off against each other, so instead, let’s compare their views on a few of life’s more important issue:

On Youth:

Twain: “It is a pity we can’t escape from life when we are young.”

Wilde: “Those whom the gods love grow young.”

On George Bernard Shaw:

Twain: “Shaw is a pleasant man; simple, direct, sincere, animated; but self-possessed, sane, and evenly poised, acute engaging, companionable, and quite destitute of affectation. I like him.”

Wilde: “An excellent man: he has no enemies, and none of his friends like him.”

On American Culture:

Wilde: “We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.”

Twain: “To string incongruities and absurdities together in a wandering and sometimes purposeless way, and seem innocently unaware that they are absurdities, is the basis of the American art, if my position is correct.”

On The Idiot In Society:

Twain: “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

Wilde: “Oh, I love London society! It is entirely composed now of beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics. Just what society should be.”

On Self-awareness:

Twain: “A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.”

Wilde: “Only the shallow know themselves.”

On Death:

Twain: “Death, the only immortal who treats us all alike, whose pity and whose peace and whose refuge are for all — the soiled and the pure, the rich and the poor, the loved and the unloved.”

Wilde: “Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.”

On the Afterlife:

Twain: “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.”

Wilde: “I don’t want to go to Heaven. None of my friends are there.”

Of course, it’s no surprise that these two have cocktails named after them, and rather than settle on one literary libation, today we’re making both of them. The Oscar Wilde is a pleasant sweet after-dinner drink that mixes Irish cream liqueur with Triple Sec. The Mark Twain is actually based on a letter Twain wrote to his wife while he was in London in 1874, saying that he has been enjoying “cock-tails” morning, noon and night and making the request that she “remember to have, in the bathroom, when I arrive, a bottle of Scotch whisky, a lemon, some crushed sugar, & a bottle of Angostura bitters.” It’s a nicely balanced drink, with the lemon and sugar nearly masking the whiskey’s smokiness.

Oscar Wilde

  • 2 ounce Irish Cream Liqueur
  • 1 ounce Triple Sec

Moisten the rim of an Old Fashioned glass and dip it with chocolate powder. Add ice and the liqueurs and stir.

Mark Twain

  •  1 1/2 ounces Scotch
  •   3/4 ounce lemon juice
  •   1 ounce simple syrup
  •   2 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Tomorrow: Adelaide, Australia plays host to one of the world’s strangest unsolved mysteries.



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