That Time When F. Scott Fitzgerald “Verbed” The Word Cocktail

When you think of F. Scott Fitzgerald, you probably think of beachy cocktail parties where people said stuff like “Well I’ll be damned if you don’t look better after a bottle of Champagne,” or maybe the significance of the green lantern metaphor in The Great Gatsby (since you had to memorize it for an essay test), or (and we’re sorry) the movie remake where Leonardo DiCaprio does his best to not notice all the sparkles.

F. Scott Fitzgerald would probably hate the way his books are stuffed down our throats (really, just one of his books, insistently, and by god do we all hate Daisy now). And likely he’d hate the way Baz Luhrmann shellacked said book with the shiniest movie gloss and most intrusive soundtrack of all time. But he definitely wouldn’t hate how vigorously we all “cocktail.”

Yes, cocktail is a verb. Or so it was back in January of 1928, when Fitzy wrote a letter to none other than Blanche Knopf (wife of Alfred Knopf), acknowledging that “as cocktail, so I gather, has become a verb, [it] ought to be conjugated at least once.” (“So here goes.”)

Fitzgerald Letter
Image courtesy of OpenCulture.com

Fitzgerald goes on to write out the theoretical conjugation of the new verb “to cocktail” (see photo, and yes, we don’t remember what the hell the “Pluperfect” is either). Apparently F. Scott had a lot in common with Calvin.

Calvin Cartoon
Image courtesy of StrangeHorizons.com

If we’re going to guess how Fitzgerald “cocktailed” (that’s the past perfect…maybe), likely it involved gin, since that was his favorite drink. Apparently “he believed you could not detect it on the breath,” which is kind of insane considering how intensely juniper-y gin is. He also had a “remarkably low tolerance,” so we’re thinking most of his “cocktailing” was brief, but briefly glorious. Kind of like the life and times of The Great Gatsby? And then something about the cost of self-perception and the dangerously thin veil of the American dream. Seriously, we totally forget, here are the Cliffs Notes.

Image of Fitzgerald Stamp via neftali / Shutterstock.com