Ernest Hemingway Writers Retreat at Walloon Lake this March

 Dream of getting away to write? What could be better than Hotel Walloon. After all, if it was good enough for Ernest (Hemingway that is), then it should work for anyone who wants to hone their writing skills and just needs to find inspiration, stimulation, ideas, and time away.

Hemingway, after all, is Walloon Lake’s most famous summer resident–his family still has a cottage on this beautiful lake in northwestern Michigan. And even better, Hotel Walloon has invited Hemingway’s great granddaughter Cristen Hemingway Jaynes to to lead the writers’ workshops and activities during the Walloon Lake Writer’s Retreat this March 4-6.

Jaynes is the the author of Ernest’s Way: An International Journey Through Hemingway’s Life which is a guide and literary exploration of the cities where Hemingway visited or lived. In the book, published by Pegasus Books, Jaynes shows us theses destination both as they were when the author of such best sellers as For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Sun Also Rises, and Farewell to Arms, was there as well as now.

The Walloon Writers Retreat begins Friday evening and runs until Sunday early afternoon.  Participants can enjoy both collaborative and solo writing sessions during the weekend.  Packages start at $350.00 and includes a hotel room, retreat costs, an autographed copy of Cristen Hemingway Jaynes’s book, a Hemingway Tour hosted by the Michigan Hemingway Society, and visits to distinctive locations around this quaint Village that will help write and foster inspiration.

Hotel Walloon on the Shores of Walloon Lake Where the Hemingway Family Summered


Hotel Walloon is located in Northern Michigan and is a privately-owned AAA Four Diamond property.  Hotel Walloon is a luxury boutique hotel that hosts 32 unique guest rooms.  Amenities include complimentary valet service, a private bar exclusively for hotel guests and four complimentary food offerings during the day including; a continental breakfast, fresh snacks, and an assortment of hors d’oeuvres in the evening, followed by a dessert display. 

Places for Inspiration

There are lots of cozy nooks for writers as well as comfortable lounges near large fireplace. Guests can avail themselves of the billiards room, 24-hour fitness facility, and outdoor heated spa whirlpool.  Within a short walk are the Barrel Back Restaurant as well as lovely Walloon Lake Inn.

Up North Michigan

Hotel Walloon is part of the Up North experience is located between three great Northern Michigan cities known for their vibrant downtowns, lovely historic areas, and beautiful waterfronts–Charlevoix, Boyne City, and Petoskey. 
 

Hemingway as a very young writer at Walloon Lake

El Floridita: An Opening into the World of Cocktails and Hemingway

         When Piña de Plata or the Silver Pineapple first opened in 1817, the location in what is now La Habana Vieja, Spanish for Old Havana would have been just known as downtown Havana back then. Located at the end of Calle Obispo, across Monserrate Street from the National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana, the streets in front of the muddy pinkish-red stucco exterior with its famous neon sign bustles with cars with fins in Easter egg colors and matching interiors. It’s a sea of pinks, purples, sky blues, two tones of white and maroon and other combos. We could be in a scene from “Mad Men,” but instead of crystal clear martinis, we’re heading to El Floridita.

200 Years and Counting

The name changed from the Silver Pineapple happened in 1914 about the same time that Constantino Ribalaigua began learning to mix drinks from his father. Four years later, Ribalaigua, who later earned the nickname of “El Rey de los Coteleros” or The Cocktail King of Cuba, had earned enough money to buy the place. He was only 26 and would own it for decades, creating more than 200 cocktails and adapting dozens more.

Creating the Hemingway Daiquiri

         It was one of Ribalaigua’s adaptations that made him famous—the recipe and the person who frequently left his apartment down the street after spending the morning writing and relaxed with a couple—or maybe even more—daiquiris. A concoction of white rum, maraschino liqueur or cherries depending upon the recipe, freshly squeezed lemon juice or pineapple juice and sugar or a sugar syrup, it pleased Ernest Hemingway so much, that soon El Floridita, daiquiris, and Hemingway became an icon of the bestselling author’s days in Cuba. El Floridita soon earned a subtitle, becoming “la cuna del daiquiri” or the cradle of the daiquiri.

Historic Architecture

         At opening time, the doors open and people stream in. They’re a mixed lot. College students, older literary types, locals probably bemoaning that they can’t have a quiet drink because of all these tourists, men who looked like artists and musicians, women in exotic outfits looking like poets and writers. The shiny mahogany bar is an extravagant piece of beautiful wood where red-jacketed bartenders swiftly add ingredients and then buzz them in the blender.

Daiquiris for All

These bartenders are smooth, able to mix and pour two daiquiris at a time. They need to be, the surge of people is endless. There’s a neo-classicist style to the decor. Huge paintings back up the bar and line several large walls. Chandeliers drip from the ceiling, the tables in the large dining room have white tablecloths and louvered doors. The bar itself is rather dark though streaks of the stunning sunshine stream through the door. Musicians come up on the small stage and play Cuban music, jazz, Bolero, Timba, and their own compositions as well including music from the eastern end of the island.

         You don’t have to imagine Hemingway sitting at the bar, a bronze bust of him in his favorite corner was sculpted in 1954. And it’s easy to pause when my eye captures the lifestyle statue of him at the bar that was added almost 50 years later. Another honorific is a plaque with a Hemingway quote: “My mojito in the Bodeguita del Medio and my daiquiri in the Floridita.”

         But probably the best indication of the author’s prestige and power as a tourist attraction is the lure of the blender as it mixes another daiquiri (there are four varieties associated with Hemingway and I’ve included two of them below) and the clinking of glasses as patrons toast the author and, of course, his drink.

Recipes

Floridita Daiquiri

  • 2 oz. white rum (Floridita uses Havana club)
  • ½ oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. maraschino liqueur
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups crushed ice

Mix the lime juice and sugar in a blender and pulse to combine. Add the maraschino and crushed ice and blend on high speed, gradually adding rum to the mix. Pour into a chilled large cocktail glass.

Floridita Cocktail

  • 2 ounces white rum (I prefer Brugal)
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • ½ ounce fresh grapefruit juice
  • ¼ ounce maraschino liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup

Shake with ice, and strain into coupe. Garnish with a lime wheel.