Veuve Clicquot Brut

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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 of Lt Tyrone Slothrop. He gets Sir Stephen Dodson-Truck and a casino-full of possible conspirators sloshed on the stuff during a drinking game of grand proportions. Page 252:

‘Garçon.’ Drinks here are always on the house for Slothrop — They are springing for it, he imagines. ‘Some of that champagne! Wantcha to just keep it coming, and any time we run out, go get more, comprendez?’ Any number of slack-jawed subalterns, hearing the magic word, drift over and take seats while Slothrop explains the rules.

“I’m not sure –” Dodson-Truck begins.

“Baloney. Come on, do you good to get outa that chess rut.”

“Right, right,” agree the others.

Dodson-Truck stays in his seat, a bit tense.

“Bigger glasses,” Slothrop hollers at the waiter. “How about those beer mugs over there! Yeah! They’d be just fine.” The waiter unblasts a Jeroboam of Veuve Clicquot Brut, and fills everybody up.

DSC_5837 (1).jpgMany bottles later, the waiters switch to sweet Taittinger, among other cheaper options, corks growing “straighter, less mushroomy” once everyone’s too far gone to care. I’m in no hurry to move on. It’s mid afternoon here now, and I’ve been idly sipping on Veuve Clicquot since sometime this morning. (Just one beer mug’s worth–I’m not knocking them back like the patrons of the Casino Hermann Goering). It’s fresh and zippy and very enjoyable. Just like the Pynchon in Public podcast. Sort of. The podcast’s got more shit and death than the Champagne. But otherwise. Just like it.

The drunken party ends up opening a chink in the armour of Their machine for Slothrop, with Dodson-Truck confessing his part in the plot and his knowledge of Slothrop’s conditioning. It sets rolling the boulder that gets our Tyrone the hell outta the Riviera, out of the sights of the White Visitation and co, and off into his Rocket-hunt through Europe. Drinking games are serious business, folks.

Whisky Sours

DSC_5586.jpg8 May is universally recognised and celebrated as Pynchon in Public day. Parades fill the streets from Venice Beach to Vheissu; confetti pours from airships over all the world’s great capitals. In celebration of this grand holiday, I gathered some compadres to join Oedipa Maas and me for a whisky sour.

DSC_5582Boilermaker House whipped us up a batch of their somewhat unconventional whisky sours with passionfruit and beer (the recipe is here). The drinks came adorned with moustache patterns—I guess the bartenders couldn’t find their muted post-horn stencils.

Oedipa mixes a jug of (likely more straightforward) whisky sours while preparing for Mucho’s return from work on the afternoon she learns of Pierce’s will. On page 2 of the Vintage edition I just bought today when I realised my sister has and is probably dog-earing my old copy:

Oedipa had been named also to execute the will in a codicil dated a year ago. She tried to think back to whether anything unusual had happened around then. Through the rest of the afternoon, through her trip to the market in downtown Kinneret-Among-The-Pines to buy ricotta and listen to the Muzak (today she came through the bead-curtained entrance around bar 4 of the Fort Wayne Settecento Ensemble’s variorum recording of the Vivaldi Kazoo Concerto, Boyd Beaver, soloist); then through the sunned gathering of her marjoram and sweet basil from the herb garden, reading of book reviews in the latest Scientific American, into the layering of a lasagna, garlicking of a bread, tearing up of romaine leaves, eventually, oven on, into the mixing of the twilight’s whiskey sours against the arrival of her husband, Wendell (“Mucho”) Maas from work, she wondered, wondered …

Later (p. 6), home from work, Mucho “glid[es] like a large bird in an updraught towards the sweating shakerful of booze.” For them both perhaps, the drink is a last cool draught of pleasant routine before Oedipa is swept into the weird tangles of the Trystero.
DSC_5593.jpgHappy Pynchon in Public day all, and happy birthday Mr Pynchon! Try and squeeze out another book before the big eight zero hey?

Vodka with Milk, Vegetable Soup, and Watermelon Juice

Guardian comment V vodka

…so quoth a commenter when the Guardian books first introduced our frivolous little endeavour to the world. And I know of course one shouldn’t read the comments and less still feed the trolls, but I have been looking forward to this post ever since.

Pynchon in Public PodcastAs any true Pynchonite should realise, Pynchondom abounds with dedicated souls who wouldn’t blink at slurping down a vodka and milk for the cause. Two of the most dedicated of all must be the hosts of the marvellous Pynchon in Public Podcast, Chris and Bo. I had the great honour of appearing on their latest episode, where we drank this on air. Chris took the milk, Bo the vegetable soup, and I the watermelon juice. Get yourself over there now and listen, they’ve edited out all my drunken slurping noises, it’s a fun time. Here’s the iTunes. Very excitingly, they’re about to start a season on Gravity’s Rainbow — never a better time to jump aboard there if you haven’t already.

The vodka with milk/soup/watermelon is, as AbsurdistGeographer helpfully explained, drank at the tail end of a party near the beginning of V. It’s a pretty sombre party though. Here’s the passage (p. 18):

They would sit around a table in Teflon’s kitchen: Pig Bodine and Dewey Gland facing them [Paola and Benny] one each like partners at bridge, a vodka bottle in the middle. Nobody would talk except to argue about what they would mix the vodka with next when what they had ran out. That week they tried milk, canned vegetable soup, finally the juice from a dried up piece of watermelon which was all Teflon had left in the refrigerator. Try to squeeze a watermelon into a small tumbler sometime when your reflexes are not so good. It is next to impossible. Picking the seeds out of the vodka proved also to be a problem, and resulted in a growing, mutual ill-will.

We split the drinks up on the podcast, but I couldn’t let the two I didn’t take pass me by entirely. So let’s go, round two, I’m tackling them all again.

Disclaimer: I drank these on seperate evenings. Attempting to drink all three at once may lead to profound unhappiness.

First up: vodka with milk. 

Pynchon Vodka with Milk

I got home from work ready for a beer and instead dropped a shot of vodka in a tall glass of cold milk (just in case my dedication is still in question). It didn’t really taste too horrible, which seemed wrong, so I added more vodka. This did amp up the grossness considerably. It somehow seemed far creamier than just ordinary milk, which combined with the vegetal/metallic vodka edge and slight alcohol burn just got really weird, particularly as you get more than a few sips in. I guess it wasn’t totally awful. A big milk fan could probably dig it. I struggled.

Next: vodka with vegetable soup. 

Vodka with Vegetable Soup Pynchon

Well doesn’t this one just make the other two look like strawberry daiquiris. It’s shudderingly gross. Bo elected out of his own free will to drink it on the podcast (his version is pictured below). I still have lingering guilt over suggesting this particular trio. Thinking that Pig Bodine and co wouldn’t bother with heating, Bo left it cold. I’ve done the same. Cold vegetable soup out of a glass is gross enough to begin with; vodka takes it to a new level of spewiness. As I think Bo found on the podcast, much of the vodka seems to float to the top, being less dense than soup. That means it starts horrible but gets milder and milder. By the time I was eating the last celery and corn out of the glass with a spoon, it was almost enjoyable. Almost.

Bo Pynchon Soup

Last up: vodka with watermelon juice. 
Rotten Watermelon PynchonI drank this one on the podcast, mashing the juice straight out of a fresh watermelon. That wasn’t really fair, seeing as V clearly specifies a “dried up” piece of watermelon, and the hosts were drinking the nastier mixes above. I kept the rest of the watermelon in the fridge though, ready for a crustier reprise here. Probably because I sealed it in tupperware though, it didn’t dry up at all — it turned to soggy mouldy pulp. Yum. Luckily I had one chunk in the freezer, and that defrosted into a flaccid but (crucially) mould-free source of juice. If this fails to follow the letter of the drink as set down in V, it is at least loyal to the spirit of just using whatever you’ve got, whatever particular grossness that might entail.

The result was drinkable, but not wonderful. Just stale watermelon. It looked pretty! Pynchon’s not wrong though, picking the seeds out sure was irritating.

Pynchon Watermelon Vodka

What are you still doing here? Go listen to Pynchon in Public!