Nebbiolo

Right near the end of Against the Day, we witness Dally and Kit reunite with Reef and Yashmeen in Turin. There’s a little wife-with-ex-lover tension, but the whole thing basically seems to go very nicely. Page 1073: To celebrate they all went out to dinner at the Ristorante del Cambio, known locally as “the old lady.”…

The Macallan

I first cracked open Tom Pynchon’s Liquor Cabinet and got stuck into the Chivas Regal four years ago today. That seems like a good excuse for more whisky. The Macallan graces the same top shelf Bleeding Edge Silicon Alley party bar where we found Stolichnaya Elit and Tanqueray No. 10. Those were both very pleasant, but if I were at…

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…