Faulkner’s favorite drink is often listed as the julep, which is probably correct: his house in Oxford still displays his beloved metal julep cup. But his old standby was the toddy, which he describes “compounding … with ritualistic care.” It comes in two forms, hot and cold. Faulkner’s niece, Dean Faulkner Wells, clearly recalled her uncle making hot toddies and serving them to his ailing children on a silver tray. But unlike today, the cold toddy seems to have been the more popular in Faulkner’s day.
2 ounces of bourbon or white whiskey
4 ounces of water (cold or boiling)
If cold, 1 lemon slice; if hot, 1/2 lemon, both juice + rind
1 teaspoon of sugar
The key to a toddy, according to Faulkner, is that the sugar must be dissolved into a small amount of water before the whiskey is added, otherwise it “lies in a little intact swirl like sand at the bottom of the glass.” (One of Faulkner’s short stories, “An Error in Chemistry,” hinges on this point: a northern murderer, pretending to be a Southern gentleman, mistakenly mixes sugar with “raw whiskey”; the Southerners recognize his faux pas and immediately pounce on him.) Once the sugar is dissolved, the whiskey is poured over it. Top it off, to taste, with the remaining water—preferably “rainwater from a cistern.” Add lemon and serve in a heavy glass tumbler.
Partial transcript from The Library of Congress:
Before I leave America I must see you again–there is no one in this wide great world of America whom I love and honour so much. With warm affection, and honourable admiration, Oscar Wilde.
The Walt Whitman Archive fleshes out the story:
On 18 January 1882 Wilde visited Walt Whitman in Camden, where the poet was then living with his brother and sister-in-law. Wilde told Whitman that his mother had purchased a copy of Leaves of Grass when it was first published, that Lady Wilde had read the poems to her son, and that later, at Oxford, he and his friends carried Leaves to read on their walks. Flattered, Whitman offered Wilde, whom he later described as “a fine large handsome youngster,” some of his sister-in-law’s homemade elderberry wine, and they conversed for two hours. Asked later by a friend how he managed to get the elderberry wine down, Wilde replied: “If it had been vinegar I would have drunk it all the same, for I have an admiration for that man which I can hardly express”
From the BBC series In Their Own Words: British Authors. Fantastic 1968 documentary: Tolkien walks about Oxford, shares insights on his work, looks at trees, and contemplates his love of beer. Great stuff.