Montrachet

Early on in Gravity’s Rainbow, while we’re still huddled behind London blackout curtains with relatively recognisable characters and fairly coherent plots, Jessica sits up while Roger sleeps, “filling with a need to cry” because she cannot protect him as she wants to. She remembers asking him what things were like before the war. Page 59:…

Cheap Claret

Claret first enters the etymological record as a British nickname for Bordeaux red in 1700, not too long before Mason & Dixon gets started. The slang would then have been sixty-some years in use when first appears in M&D on page 192, with Mason in an English pub called the George distracting himself from the death of former Astronomer Royal Bradley with…

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…

Veuve Clicquot Brut

Season two of the Pynchon in Public podcast‘s trek through Gravity’s Rainbow is a wrap! Watch your iTunes feeds. I popped some Champagne on the air this morning in celebration. You may notice the Champagne is pictured above in a beer mug. In this, as in the choice of the specific Champagne house, I follow the good example…

Absinthe with water

From Hemingway’s Papa Doble, on to another drink with a great literary/artistic pedigree: absinthe. We’re all familiar with its green fairy aura of inspired madness and creative self-annihilation. The stuff’s been put away by Baudelaire, Emile Zola, Oscar Wilde, Picasso, Modigliani, etc etc etc. Even more impressively, it gets mentioned in both V. and Gravity’s Rainbow. In V., a not exactly gallant…

Brandy

Seeing as our friend Tyrone Slothrop’s Pilsner Urquell was such a good idea, we’d better see what else he can recommend us. Or actually–he gets through some classy girlfriends, some of them must have pretty good taste. Let’s try Katje. Mysterious Katje. Near the start of the second part of Gravity’s Rainbow (“Un Perm’ au Casino Hermann…

Beaujolais

Through some sort of internet miracle, this blog has had more hits today than in its previous six weeks of life combined. Like ten times more. So tonight I’m celebrating–and welcoming new readers!–with a bottle of Beaujolais. Swing by my house and I’ll pour you a glass.  This drop makes its appearance near the beginning of The…