Friday, October 5, 2012

Andrez Bergen's Guide to Books & Booze

Time to grab a book and get tipsy!

Books & Booze is a new mini-series of sorts here on TNBBC that will post every Friday in October. The participating authors were challenged 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. 

Andrez Bergen, a TNBBC super-fan, was all over it! Here's his boozey take on Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat and One Hundred Years of Vicissitude


In my first book Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, it was “any drink goes” - basically, our hero Floyd Maquina would guzzle anything with a smidgeon of alcoholic content.

He rises high at times, when straight Johnnie Walker whisky is in the offering, along with a bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne. Otherwise Floyd scrapes the barrel with synthetic brandy (this is an apocalyptic, dystopic future world were talking up) and rot-gut liquor of various kinds.

Floyd does, however, draw the line at Siamese vodka.

I’d owned two bottles of Siamese vodka in my life, drunkenly bought one night from the back room of a seedy bar I used to regular,” Floyd confesses. “The first bottle left me without a voice for a week, like the Devil himself pissed down my throat. The other has gathered dust for years - even at my drunkest I knew better than to touch the stuff.”

James Bond also can’t abide by Siamese vodka. If you watch the 1967 movie You Only Live Twice, you’ll see Sean Connery’s horrified reaction to the drink.

My second novel One Hundred Years of Vicissitude, coming out in October, has a more even-keel, shall we say sophisticated approach to the drinking thing. While Japanese moonshine - called katsutori - does enter the picture, mostly we’re blessed with quality saké. And the two people towing the story, Wolram and Kohana, have expensive palates.

At one point, in a swinging ’60s Tokyo bar, Kohana orders for Wolram a Vesper - the classic 007 martini. “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of shōchū, half a measure of Kina Lillet,” she tells the bartender. “Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?” It’s Ian Fleming’s original recipe to a tee, except that vodka is replaced with Japanese shōchū. Of course.

But the truly original drink in One Hundred Years of Vicissitude is the one that Kohana, our former geisha, orders for herself. While I have no idea what’s in the thing, I do dig the name. The passage reads thus:

Kohana held up her drink. It had a blood-coloured cocktail in it, with shards of ice arranged like sharp teeth around the top.
“It’s a house speciality: The Piranha.”
“Ahh, of course. Well, bon appétit!”
We clicked glasses.

Andrez made his TNBBC debut back in January for our Indie Spotlight series, where he shared how his book Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat came to be. He's also shared his writing space with us for our Where Writers Write series. He is Senior Writer and Editor at Impact Magazine (UK) and Writer and Editor at Forces of Geek. His new novel, 100 Years of Vicissitude is coming soon.


  1. Boozing is such an underrated element in fiction. Tell me what you drink and how you drink, I will tell you who you are. Andrez's drinkers are amazing. Their habit is a vector of endless chaos.

    But the greatest single boozer character I've come across is Matthew McBride's Nick Valentine. By the way, Lori, put that in your TBR "Frank Sinatra in a Blender" by Matt McBride. I'm sure you'll get a kick out of it.

  2. OK, let's test out that theory. I'm a Killean's Irish Beer drinker... and when that's not available I'm a seasonal Sam Adams fan. So who am I?

    Also, I am totally checking out that book! A crime novel on meth? Sounds like a great hook to me!

  3. You like beer for the taste and you don't like getting hammered. Maybe tipsy and dizzy, but not drunk the way Floyd Maquina and Nick Valentine can be. You're the terrace-and-friends kind, which is cool. I'd have to see you in an altered state to draw further conclusions.

  4. Wow. Scary how close you come! That's about me in a nutshell. I hate being drunk, but I LOVE a controlled buzz.

  5. Yep, how underrated is fictional boozing? Spot-on! And "Frank Sinatra in a Blender" is a superb book. Love that aside... "Andrez's drinkers are amazing. Their habit is a vector of endless chaos." Sounds like my life in a nutshell too. I think Mr. B is psychic. ;)

  6. Just "above average perceptive", A. :)