Green Beer

Early in Against the Day, the young Franz Ferdinand is hanging out in Chicago for the World’s Fair. Greenhorn private security agent Lew Basnight is tasked with protecting the Archduke, whose mostly interested in hunting down “ladies of flagrant repute.” One night, F.F. gives his handlers the slip. Lew goes looking for him. Page 47:…

Italian Beer

On page 724 of Against the Day, we find sinister (likely orange-faced tiny-handed) plutocrat Scarsdale Vibe touring northern Italy with his faithful manservant Foley Walker hunting bargains in Renaissance art. The hunt involves regular humiliation for Foley, not a day going by that he doesn’t “find himself carrying out some chore better left to a performing monkey.” Page…

Mavrodaphne

One spring late in Against the Day, Auberon Halfcourt and Umeki Tsurigane find Yashmeen, Reef, and baby Ljubica on the Greek island of Corfu. They dine “in a taverna down by the harbour in Garitsa.” Page 975: They sat at a long table and ate tsingarelli and polenta and yaprakia and a chicken stoufado with…

Brandy and Soda

The brandy and soda is a drink that seems to exist today primarily as a P. G. Wodehouse reference. It’s a basic combination that nevertheless occurs to no-one but those imitating Bertie Wooster. Surveying the internet, it appears that mention of the ‘B and S’ without reference to Jeeves and Wooster has been strictly outlawed. They do seem…

Mâconnais

“It’s like licking a bloody piece of slate tile” quoth my father post-quaff of this Mâconnais. He seemed to intend this as a compliment. The Mâconnais is a Southern chunk of the Burgundy wine region, known for producing value-for-money Chardonnay. This bottle (Louis Latour Les Deux Moulins Saint-Véran) did indeed seem reasonably cheap for fancy-sounding Burgundy under a a classy-looking label. Whether it…

Absinthe Frappé

This here is the fiftieth drink to join our digital cabinet of liquors! And a mighty fine addition it is too. If I were asked elect an emblematic spirit for each Pynchon book, some choices would be easy. White corn whiskey would represent Mason & Dixon. Lot 49 might be kirsch. And Against the Day would be absinthe. The denizens of AtD take their absinthe in…

Gewurztraminer

We’ve just about hit 50 Empty Bottles here at Tom Pynchon’s Liquor Cabinet, but this post marks our first occasion revisiting a passage to pull out a second drink. November last year, Against the Day led me to some apricot brandy abandoned in a safe-house cupboard. (I remarked at the time that it was a bit rough, and I…

Home-brewed Beer

Pynchon fans can get a bit of a bad wrap—all pretentious weirdo dudes with neck-beards. Homebrewers have something of a similar reputation. In both cases of course, reality is far more capacious than the stereotypes. But you might expect some overlap between the two communities. Any other homebrewing Pynchonites out there? Pynchon’s characters lean towards the grape when…

Cactus Beer

Around page 82 of Against the Day, we learn a little backstory on Viekko, Webb Traverse’s potato-spirit bootlegging buddy. He and some comrades at one point had been rounded up for miners union activities and dumped in the southern San Juans deep in the middle of the night. They half expect to be executed, but are…

Dão wine

Fleetwood Vibe, most mysterious son of that sinister household, recalls on page 168 his travels in Mozambique—then a colony of Portugal: Debarking at Lourenço Marques, he spent a week in various local cantinhas, gathering information, as he liked to think of it. This required a tidy lakeful of Portuguese colonial-market wine, the rotgut rejectamenta of Bucelas and Dão,…

Lambic Beer

I’d hazard a guess Pynchon’s a wine man. The books are littered with specific vintages and vineyards, many of them challenging for the budget of this blog.  (On the other hand, he could just be using a wine-guide like he does those Baedekers.) As something of a beer nerd, I do now and then pine for more hops and…

Apricot Brandy

Around page 718 of Against the Day, Cyprian and Yashmeen meet up with Ratty McHugh to discuss Yashmeen’s fear that she’s being followed, including by a “Hungarian element.” (My recollection of this passage is close to nil, but the Chumps of Choice group-read blog has great memory-refreshing summaries of AtD chapters—it’s a great travelling companion if you’re reading the book…