Mixing Drama & Drinks: Tennessee Williams
On the 108th birthday of the award-winning playwright, we look at his contentious relationship with drinking.
In 1940, famed playwright Tennessee Williams found himself marooned at the Hotel Costa Verde in Acapulco, Mexico. He was awaiting the arrival of an advance royalty check from the Theatre Guild for his play Battle of Angels. The money was “mysteriously delayed and delayed in the mails,” Williams later wrote in his memoir, aptly titled Memoirs.
So, with time on his hands, Williams worked on his play Stairs to the Roof. His experience at the hotel, which was full of Nazis and refugees, later inspired him to write a short story that would be the basis for his acclaimed 1959 play, Night of the Iguana. (“And some Mexican boys did catch an iguana and tie it up under the verandah, to be fattened for eating—but nobody cut it loose,” he admitted in his autobiography.) He also apparently spent quite a bit of time at the bar enjoying a drink called the Rum-Coco.
Williams noted that he found it to be “a long dreamy drink, the most delectable summer night’s drink I’ve ever enjoyed,” and it allowed him a brief escape from his financial predicament. He and a writer friend spent their evenings in hammocks sipping Rum-Cocos “until the stars of the Southern Cross…began to flit crazily about like fireflies caught in a bottle.”