Champagne Cocktails

Pynchon Champagne CocktailsWith all the drinking in Pynchon, you’d think there’d be a few more recognisable bars dotting his fictional landscapes. But the only one that really jumps out to me is The Scope, which we find out on the way to LA, near the Yoyodyne factory in The Crying of Lot 49. From chapter three:

The Scope proved to be a haunt for electronics assembly people from Yoyodyne. The green neon sign outside ingeniously depicted the face of an oscilloscope tube, over which flowed an ever-changing dance of Lissajous figures. Today seemed to be payday, and everyone inside to be drunk already. Glared at all the way, Oedipa and Metzger found a table in back. A wizened bartender wearing shades materialized and Metzger ordered bourbon. Oedipa, checking the bar, grew nervous. There was this je ne sais quoi about the Scope crowd: they all wore glasses and stared at you, silent. Except for a couple-three nearer the door, who were engaged in a nose-picking contest, seeing how far they could flick it across the room.

Which now that I think of it sounds about what I imagine a bar full of Pynchonites might end up like. The place also has an electronic music only policy, and the fact that Pynchon plays this for laughs has me yearning for 1965, now that the whole world seems to have adopted such a policy.

Pynchon Posthorn Cocktail Lot 49Oedipa first comes across the muted post-horn, that foremost symbol of Pynchonoia, on a wall of The Scope’s ladies room. And she returns to the place a couple more times. Lot 49’s last drink is drank there midway through the sixth and final chapter:

She did go back to The Scope, though, one night, restless, alone, leery of what she might find. She found Mike Fallopian, a couple weeks into raising a beard, wearing button-down olive shirt, creased fatigue pants minus cuffs and belt loops, two-button fatigue jacket, no hat. He was surrounded by broads, drinking champagne cocktails, and bellowing low songs. When he spotted Oedipa he gave her the wide grin and waved her over.

Pynchon Black Pearl French 75What a wonderful name is Mike Fallopian. It’s times like these I wish I had a copy of Pynchon Character Names: A Dictionary. But I’ll leave you to produce your own commentary on Mike’s reproductive capacity in the narrative and focus my energy on the champagne cocktails. I tried to knock this one off a couple of weeks ago at the excellent if kind of dated feeling Black Pearl, where I downed a delightful French 75. A French 75 is basically an upgraded Tom Collins, with champagne instead of soda water. That’s it there on the left. But so then I got busy and didn’t get around to writing the post–and plus, it does say cocktails plural. So let’s have a couple more.

I thought I’d try my hand at inventing my own. That’s the result pictured up top—and I don’t think it was half bad. Metzger’s bourbon in The Scope from chapter three wasn’t specific enough to make the list on its own, so I’ve incorporated it here. Here’s my recipe:

The Posthorn
Champagne (or actually I used Prosecco)
Bourbon (I used Blanton’s—great stuff)
Lime juice
Blackcurrant Cordial

With the quantities being mysteries lost to history. I found a point where it all seemed to balance nicely, and you could taste the bourbon and it was just sweet enough, but I sure couldn’t tell you what the ratios were. Was pretty proud of how it ended up though.

Two’s not plural enough, so I also whipped up some of these babies, which were very delicious. Passionfruit pulp, various other juices, and Prosecco. And then to top it all off I tried a black velvet—champagne and Guinness. Also good!

Pynchon Posthorn cocktailPynchon cocktail Lot 49Pynchon Black Velvet Lot 49

Oh and I almost forgot—If you’ve made it this far down, you’re probably already aware that this coming Friday is Pynchon in Public Day. If you’re in Melbourne and want to talk/read Pynchon in a bar, let me know @drunkpynchon on twitter.

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. Beaujolais

This drop makes its appearance near the beginning of The Crying of Lot 49, and a stylish appearance it is. You’ll forgive me for quoting at length:

That night the lawyer Metzger showed up. He turned out to be so good-looking that Oedipa thought at first They, somebody up there, were putting her on. It had to be an actor. He stood at her door, behind him the oblong pool shimmering silent in a mild diffusion of light from the night-time sky, saying ‘Mrs Maas,’ like a reproach. His enormous eyes, lambent, extravagantly lashed, smiled out at her wickedly; she looked around him for reflectors, microphones, camera cabling, but there was only himself and a debonair bottle of French Beaujolais, which he claimed to’ve smuggled last year into California, this rollicking lawbreaker, past the frontier guards.

Which is for sure the best paragraph of Pynchon I’ve drank through for this blog thus far. I’m wishing I had the resources this evening (pool, really really ridiculously good-looking man) to recreate that snapshot for an actual photo here. But nevermind. Photos of bottles sitting in my kitchen will have to suffice. And I do think I’ve found myself a suitably debonair one! Fit to compete with Metzger’s.

DSC_8432Oh but what is Beaujolais? You’ve gathered so far that it’s wine. My cursory wikipedia research and the bit on the bottle saying “Appellation contrôlée” indicates that it’s specifically wine from the historic Beaujolais province north of Lyon in France (making the ‘French’ in Pynchon’s ‘French Beaujolais’ a bit redundant). Beaujolais winegrowers tend to deal in the Gamay noir grape, which apparently provided relief to village growers after the Black Death by being quick and easy to grow. History, however, was not universally kind to the Gamay grape. In July of 1395, the well-named Phillipe the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, banned Gamay as “a very bad and disloyal plant” supplanting the more honourable Pinot Noir grapes. Anyway, I’ll stop transcribing the Wikipedia article. The gamay obviously staged a comeback sometime in the 620 years since, making it into Lot 49 and down my gullet.

It goes down very pleasantly too. Peppery smelling, very light at first and then with all these nice ripe plums and more of that pepper. Nice stuff. And if anyone can tell me how to say smarter things about wine I’ll be most grateful.