Saturday, 28 March 2015

Literary Drinks Video No.2: The Shining (Gin)

Dear all,

Welcome to the accompanying blog post for my Literary Drinks YouTube video on Stephen King’s The Shining.

If you haven’t watched it yet:

And you can subscribe to my channel here:

For our videos we want to mix up the range of our books as much as we can so following on from our first video on “Dombey and Son” by Charles Dickens we move on in time to try our taste buds out on some Gin Martinis; or Martians as Jack Torrance would say.

Amazingly The Shining was first published in 1977 but many people would also know it from the 1980 film adaptation by Stanley Kubrick. In many interviews Stephen King has explained his dislike of the film adaptation and I should say that when doing these videos we always reference the book. Personally, I love the film too but it is important to point out, and as anyone who has read it will tell you, it varies hugely and there are some major plot elements totally absent. If you would like to learn more about the book in general then here are a few sites to help you out:
There are some great websites out there that make comparisons between novels and their film adaptations so if you are interested in finding out more then it is a nice way to spend your lunch break or free time, you may be surprised by some of your findings. There is also a great documentary on the making of the film that is worth watching. For our purposes there is one thing to note for anyone watching our video that hasn’t read the book. As Jack steps into “The Gold Room” in the film or “The Colorado Lounge” in the book and starts a discussion with the imaginary bartender Lloyd he accepts Lloyds answer of his request for hair of the dog as a bourbon on the rocks… in the book Jack drinks Gin Martinis. Hence, we made Gin Martinis.

I think it is important to point out that our videos are for fun and the reason I chose The Shining is that I really like the book, however I am aware that there are some very serious issues in the book relating to alcohol so I didn’t want to make light of it. Let me very briefly share a few thoughts on the theme of alcohol.

Firstly, as I mentioned in the video, Stephen King has talked and written openly about his experiences of alcoholism and the impact it had on his life. He was able to draw on this, combined with the pressures of parenting, writing and financial problems when forming the Torrance family and especially of course, Jack.

Like Stephen, Jack is an alcoholic in recovery and through the use of flashbacks and jumps in time the book reveals to us more and more about the impact his drinking had on his family, physically and emotionally. One recurring trauma Jack both remembers and is forced to remember by his wife is the breaking of his son’s arm. Stephen King has talked about his frustrations with bringing up children and how he had to deal with having violent thoughts about harming them and you can feel the pain in this reflected in Jack’s inner thoughts.

Jack has trouble controlling his temper and stopping himself from flying into rages and alcohol only worsened that aspect of his personality and so later, sober, he has to learn how to deal with the violence that is within him and that is what ‘the hotel’ tries to take advantage of. The film consists of the events at the Overlook Hotel but in the book we learn (of course no film can ever replicate the entire contents of a book no matter how faithful it wants to be, else we would have a ten hour film) about Jack’s past as a teacher, some of the problems he faced dealing with authority and that link between authority and alcohol can be seen in the theme of ‘possession’. Jack doesn’t like to be told what to do, he doesn’t like to be out of control, he doesn’t want to be disturbed and of course that is exactly what the hotel tries to do. The ultimate connection to violence then becomes real in the hotel’s desire to get Jack to kill his family.

In the book the focus is much more on the son, Danny, and how the hotel really wants him (for his powers) but Danny, with the help from another character, manages to prevent this (through some scary scenes!) so the hotel has to control Jack instead, which it finds easier to do considering all his problems and hence weaker mind. So as we start reading part of the intrigue that keeps you in suspense is deciding if what Jack is going through is a result of mental illness - extreme guilt and self-persecution, depression… or the developing awareness of his own childhood and the suffering from his own father’s drinking… but once the real reason becomes apparent, the malevolent force of the hotel itself, we see it try a tactic: the use of alcohol - and an easy way to get to an alcoholic - through a well stocked bar! And that is where we come in! Now, it is clear from the book that Jack doesn’t actually drink the twenty Martians … or is it? After all, if it can open the bolt on the pantry door, then… well, why don’t you read it yourself and make your own mind up.

Gin Martini

  • Gin: 75 ml or 2.6 fl oz
  • Dry Vermouth: 10ml or 0.4 fl oz
  • Stir with ice
  • Olives
El Presidente

  • Rum: 50ml or 1.8 fl oz
  • Dry Vermouth: 20ml or 0.7 fl oz
  • Tripe Sec: 10ml or 0.4 fl oz
  • Grenadine: 5ml or 0.2 fl oz
  • Shake with ice
  • Twist of orange zest
The Shining

The edition I own and used for this video was published by New England Library, new edition 1980 and the twenty third impression 1993. ISBN: 9780450040184

Page 224.

‘So here’s what,’ Jack said. ‘You set me up an even twenty martinis. An even twenty, just like that, kazang. One for every month I’ve been on the wagon and one to grow on. You can do that, can’t you? You aren’t too busy?’            Lloyd said he wasn’t busy at all. ‘Good man. You line those martians up right along the bar and I’m going to take them down, one by one. White man’s burden, Lloyd my man.’

Thanks for watching and don’t forget to let me know if you have any recommendations on what we should recreate next.

Thanks once more to Ruairi of The Bonneville

And Gerard of Moon In a Box

Enjoy! (Responsibly)



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