Drinking with Thomas Pynchon


How would you like to sit down and enjoy a glass of French Beaujolais with Thomas Pynchon? Since the author himself isn’t available, what we’ve got instead is this paragraph of his from “The Crying of Lot 49” -- and a blogger sampling all the drinks in Pynchon’s books.

The blog is Thomas Pynchon’s Liquor Cabinet; the blogger, who remains anonymous, goes by @DrunkPynchon on Twitter.

“I’m drinking everything mentioned however peripherally in every Pynchon book and jabbering a bit about what it’s like,” reads the first post, in May of this year.


The blog’s first drink was Chivas Regal, which gets a glancing mention in “V.,” released in 1963, and also appears in 1989’s “Vineland.” The drinks are not being consumed in order of publication; rather than drinking his or her way through Pynchon, the blogger is, instead, drinking around.

The drink review is designed to please readers of Pynchon’s work. “So what is Chivas Regal like? I’m tempted to say that a screaming comes across the tongue. That it has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now. (And actually, what do I compare a whiskey to? Other whiskey presumably -- it has happened before that I’ve drunk the stuff. But only cheap stuff, and mainly quickly and in large quantities. I’m maybe not too well qualified to pass judgement on Chivas Regal.)”

It’s earned one fan: Alison Flood at the Guardian writes, “cheers to Drunk Pynchon.”

The blog is in the process of posting a complete list of all of the drinks in all of Pynchon’s works, a project daunting enough to make a reader reach for the bottle. There are 17 drinks in “V,” 46 in “Gravity’s Rainbow,” seven in “The Crying of Lot 49,” one in “Slow Learner,” 21 in “Vineland,” and 32 in “Bleeding Edge.” That’s 124 so far.

Some of the drinks are fairly standard and even desirable. They include a pina colada (“V”), “California Chenin Blanc” (“Vineland”), “a fifth of Jack Daniels” (“The Crying of Lot 49”), a mojito (“Bleeding Edge”) and Veuve Cliquot Brut (“Gravity’s Rainbow”).

Others will be easy to find, but perhaps not delicious to drink: a can of Burgie beer (“Vineland”), Gallo wine with ice (“V”), “a case of warm Bud Light” (“Vineland”), and, from “Bleeding Edge,” “Jägermeister and 151.”

And then there is the final category, the unusual and even impossible. “A glazed jug of some liquid brain damage flavored with dill and coriander and distilled … from oatmeal” (“Gravity’s Rainbow”), absinthe (“V”), Zima (“Bleeding Edge”), “fermented mare’s milk” (“Gravity’s Rainbow”),

The last category is sure to fill out after the beverages of “Inherent Vice,” “Against the Day” and “Mason & Dixon” are cataloged. The latter two books, which total more than 1,800 pages, cover about 250 years, span the globe and drift from realism into a Pynchonian dreamscape.

The most unusual drink tried so far is the King Kong, from “Bleeding Edge.” “Crown Royal plus banana liqueur,” the book explains; the blogger adds, “Banana for the monkey, Crown for the King.” The review recommends trying it over ice, if you’re brave enough to drink along with Pynchon.

Pynchonia and more; I’m @paperhaus on Twitter