Kerouac’s Margarita

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Jack Kerouac often wrote about alcohol-fueled escapades in his mostly autobiographical novels. In his numerous travels, the beat author took frequent trips to Mexico, where he gained a fondness for the margarita.

Tequila, one of the main ingredients in a margarita, is made from the agave plant, which is prevalent in Mexico. Although the margarita may not have been the libation Kerouac consumed on a daily basis, his travels make it important in helping to define his personality.

Other drinks consumed by the author in his works also include whiskey, wine, and beer, among others. Drinking a margarita when in Mexico shows the author’s ability and willingness to adapt to local culture and the extent to which he did not care what he was drinking as long as he was getting drunk.

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Kerouac’s ability to handle himself after a few drinks was apparent in his manner of speaking to others. John Clellon Holmes described this persona in that his mind loosened up leading to dialogue that was “always brilliant, always interesting, and always disturbing.”

Despite this, there were also occasions where Kerouac would lose control, on one occasion passing out in the woods on the way home from the bar. Kerouac’s drinking habit caught up with him, leading to his death from an internal hemorrhage as a result of cirrhosis at the age of 47.

Kerouac’s long-term abuse of alcohol is tragic in that we may have missed out on works he would have written later in life, but if he did not have these experiences, we might not have had some of the greatest works of that generation.

— Grant Mazan, Assistant Poetry Editor