Monday, January 27, 2014

Brian Bromberg's Guide to Books & Booze

Time to grab a book and get tipsy!

Back by popular demand, Books & Booze, originally a mini-series of sorts here on TNBBC challenges participating authors to make up their own drinks, name and all, or create a drink list for their characters and/or readers using drinks that already exist. 

Today, Brian Bromberg introduces each of the characters in his new novel Falling Up by pairing them with a drink. Bottoms up!!

Falling Down Drunk with Falling Up

“Because at this point, getting drunk seems like the only somewhat writerly thing I can do.”

So says Gregg Freeman, the main character of my latest novel, Falling Up. He resolves to get himself blindingly drunk at the very end of Chapter 1; by Chapter 2, he has barely survived his very first bar brawl. More bad behavior follows in due course, pretty much for the rest of the book. Which is why I felt an immediate kinship with the Books & Booze series. Yes, I’ve tipped a few glasses while working on Falling Up. But more importantly, my rowdy cast of characters tip glasses, as well as some tables, chairs, and the occasional motor bike. To put it bluntly, a lot of Falling Up involves falling down, and gravity has no better assistant than alcohol – or so I’ve been told. Personally, I only drink coffee – or so my family’s been told.   

Like me, the star of my novel is a writer. And like many writers, he feels that alcoholic lubrication helps him to unleash ideas from his backed-up braincase. Problematically, the poor guy has Writer’s Block. He’s just too damned comfortable to write anything of substance. His high-paying corporate day job, his sexy pseudo-girlfriend, his posh New York City apartment, and all the creature comforts of his middle-class success have combined to sap him of any semblance of inspiration. So when Gregg’s best buddy Alvaro – a successful yet perpetually sloshed artist – drunkenly suggests that the Muse of Misery best moves men to creative greatness, Gregg takes him at his word, and embarks upon a systematic campaign to destroy everything in his life that plagues him with stability, comfort, contentedness, or joy. His job, his bank account, sex, sobriety – all of it must go. The worse Gregg’s life, the better his work.

You don’t need a drink in your own hand to enjoy Gregg’s comic misadventures, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. What drink would I recommend to a reader looking to burp all over my pages? So many options. Let’s go character-by-character, shall we?

CAVEAT EMPTOR: I am NOT recommending you drink ALL of these cocktails in sequence. If you do that, you will not remember the novel. Also, you’ll likely die.

Character: Gregg Freeman
Drink: Jack and Ginger

Gregg loves Jack Daniels because it’s a donkey kick to the head when ingested in the appropriate amount; adding Ginger Ale classes up the proceedings a bit. The candy-colored drink is both strong and sweet, which is how Gregg sees himself; he also likes the reinvigorating bubbles that tickle his nose with each gulp to remind him every once in a while that he is in fact still alive and conscious. The drink is a smile on a trucker’s face – it’s there, but you’re not sure for how long. Go with this cocktail to laugh and laugh and laugh – until that unfortunate turning point when you get violent, and then black out.

Character: Alvaro Jerez
Drink: Six shots of Jose Cuervo tequila

Gregg’s partner in crime believes that inspiration can be found at the bottom of a glass, and truthfully, he’s willing to drain any glass to test his theory. But tequila definitely gets the job done without delay. Alvaro would hate that I liken him to Jose Cuervo though; as a proud Spaniard, he resents when people associate him with Latin America rather than the specific Iberian peninsula from which he hails. But a Pisco Sour or a glass of vino tinto won’t do it for this bar-brawling, cartoon-drawing lunatic. He likes to cut to the chase. Sans chaser.

Character: Annette Freeman
Drink: Brown Grasshopper

Gregg’s ex-wife is the moral center of the book. Though Gregg and Annette are separated by several years as well as several states, she haunts his memory and routinely materializes before him to criticize his life choices. Basically, she’s his conscience, the Jiminy Cricket to his Pinocchio. So logically, her drink is The Grasshopper – a sweet, mint-flavored, after-dinner cocktail. Because she would want to keep her wits about her, she’d add coffee to her beverage; hence, The Brown Grasshopper.

Character: Cindy Something
Drink: Casillero del Diablo wine, paired perfectly with a generous heaping of cocaine

Gregg’s psychotic, drug-addicted pseudo-girlfriend is a hot mess. When you’re with her, you’re in Hell, so this Chilean wine, which translates to the Devil’s Cellar, is perfect for her. Like this vintage, she’s dark, brooding, sexy, slightly acidic, but not at all “top shelf.” Of course, she only drinks wine whilst she is shoving powdered inspiration up her nose. Cindy fancies herself a painter, but the only way her work can be found in a museum is if you count her tour-guide job at the Museum of Natural History. To deal with her glaring lack of talent, and to goose her creativity, Cindy prefers to take her inspiration nasally. The wine is really just to keep it all civilized. 

Character: Oliver Rosensweig
Drink: A big-ass can of Foster’s beer

By day, Gregg works in a mind-numbing copywriter job at a DVD company called KidVidz; his boss there is a big, dumb, happy-go-lucky buffoon named Oliver. He’s a nice guy and a loveable oaf, but not particularly good at anything, and certainly not representative of taste or quality. Like Foster’s. It’s Australian for beer, but only for dumb Americans who have never been to Australia and don’t know any better. Drink up.

Character: Amber Rosensweig
Drink: Sex on the Beach

Amber is a college kid, interning at Gregg’s company. She knows that she can use sex to get anything she wants. So a Sex on the Beach is right up her ass-crack. Although if there’s no time for actual sex (because for instance, her father is headed toward the office in which she wants to do it), she’ll settle for some quick breast-play; so likewise, if there’s no time for you to mix vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice and cranberry, go instead with a quick Slippery Nipple shot, which would also suit Amber just fine.

Character: Gladys “Gladless the Moo Cow” Jones
Drink: Bitters

Gladless the Moo Cow is Oliver’s Senior Executive Assistant, and according to Gregg, “an angry, old heifer filled with vitriol and spite.” So to get your own Gladless going, pour yourself some bitters. One type that I have enjoyed is a mixture of vodka and campari called Whippersnappers, and this would be a good drink for Gladless, because she is hundreds of years old and would use that term without any shame or sense or irony.

Character: Ray “the Raven” Rothenberg
Drink: The Raven

The Raven runs a crummy little literary magazine called After Hours. He’s an interestingly pierced poser in all black who wants to be dark and mysterious, but is really  just a dickhead with a trust fund. Still, it’s all about appearances, as it is with the dark, mysterious cocktail known as the Raven. It contains vodka, rum, Blue Curacao, and 7-Up. It tastes like a combination of cough syrup and ass, but hey, it looks good. Enjoy.

Character: Elizabeth Wolfe
Drink: Irish Coffee

Elizabeth is the motor-mouthed Fiction Editor at ME Magazine. She does everything quickly – she talks fast, she moves fast, she makes decisions fast, and she is always pressed for time. She’s also of Irish descent. See where I’m going with this? You’ll need coffee to keep up with this one, but to keep it boozy, make it an Irish.

Character: Heffton Waller
Drink: Chivas Regal scotch

Heffton is the Editor-in-Chief of ME Magazine. He’s rich, powerful, and successful. He can make or break a writer’s career. He spares no expense on anything, or so Gregg imagines. So crack open a good scotch and treat yourself right, as this old man does.

Character: Gregg’s mother
Drink: Abstaining

Gregg’s mother does not like Gregg’s life choices. Nor does she find any of this amusing.

Character: Gregg’s father

Drink: Abstaining
Gregg’s father has cancer. So he’s not drinking, and he thinks you shouldn’t either.

There you have it. You can find all these awesome characters and more in Falling Up, available at or on I suggest you do. And you can find all these awesome drinks at your local watering hole, package store, or – if you’re like Alvaro – in your hand right now.

Remember, in the immortal words of Gregg Freeman: “A man can either whine and cry over life’s half-empty glass in the hopes his tears will refill it, or he can shrug, drain it dry, and order another.” So order another. Enjoy drinking up and Falling Up. Cheers.


BRIAN J. BROMBERG is a comedic writer living and working in New York City. As an Emmy-nominated children’s writer, he has penned ten television scripts, one movie, 12 books, several video games and apps, live event scripts and more exclusively for children. This juvenile experience has given him much grist for the mill in his more life-lampooning, adult-oriented work, which has featured in literary magazines, short story collections, Bromberg’s stand-up comedy act, and off-air creative for Comedy Central, MTV, Spike TV, and Paramount Pictures. Falling Up marks his first novel for – er, um – adults.  

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