MGWCC #114

crossword 3:36
puzzle 0:05, plus google to confirm

behold the on-timeness of this post! look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

now that that’s out of the way, welcome to the 114th episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Drinking Game.” in this week’s puzzle, we’re asked to identify a popular cocktail. there are no obvious theme answers, but the longest answers in the grid are:

  • {Delta area} is a RIVER MOUTH.
  • {Preparing for sweet dreams} is TUCKING IN. slightly tricky clue here, hiding the transitivity of the verb phrase.
  • {Fighting spirit at a critical time} is the WILL TO LIVE.

not much to it, but look at the ends of those phrases (each split across a word break): RIVER MOUTH, TUCKING IN, and WILL TO LIVE. vermouth + gin + olive = martini, as i only vaguely knew but definitely suspected, and confirmed with the aforementioned google. and just in case you missed it, the {Suave spy} lurking in the corner of the grid is none other than BOND, james bond, who favors this particular drink.

one reason i solved this meta so quickly is that the river mouth/vermouth thing was a memorable part of one of my favorite sunday crosswords ever, by patrick berry: “splits and mergers” from march 9, 2008. here’s the across lite file if you haven’t tried it yet (must be a NYT premium subscriber). or just check out the answers.

the grid made me suspect there was more to it than that, because 10+9+10+4=33 theme squares is not very much theme for a 76-word grid, but the 8s in the grid (GOOD CALL and POP PILLS) don’t have anything to do with the theme (i hope! pills and cocktails together is definitely not a good call). but as much as i looked for something else martini-related (SHAKEN or STIRRED? ROSSI?), i couldn’t find anything. did i miss it?

on the other hand, this is one of the cleanest grids i’ve seen in a MGWCC. no partials, few abbreviations, and only one feels-kinda-forced phrase (LET WIN). there’s something to be said for that, too. my favorite answer was undoubtedly HOW’D I DO?, but there was lots else to like here, especially the stacked 7s in all four corners. the only unfamiliar-ish answer was the {Online store website} ETSY, which i know has been in a previous MGWCC but i needed the crossings again today.

that’s all for me this week. hope to see many of you at lollapuzzoola 3 this weekend!

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7 Responses to MGWCC #114

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    320 correct answers, 7 shy of the record. Which means that many solvers were stirred, though few were shaken.

  2. hirschho says:

    I thought martini was too easy and wasn’t the answer so I didn’t submit it.


  3. Neville says:

    To boot, while at a comedy show Friday night after solving this puzzle, the opening act (who wasn’t too great) referred to my father as ‘Mr Bond’ because of the martini he was drinking. I remarked to my mother, ‘Wow! He solved Matt Gaffney’s contest without even looking at it!” – she seemed to think that was funnier than most of that comedian’s bits. :)

    See you (and everyone else) at Lollapuzzoola 3, Joon!

  4. abide says:

    I think Bond drinks vodka martinis, not the gin types.

    I liked the false gimme of ETSY over EBAY!

  5. Evad says:

    MG labeled me a “blasphemer” for saying I prefer vodka in my martinis, but it’s good to know I’m in good company with Double-Oh-Seven himself!

  6. Eric LeVasseur says:

    Apparently, James Bond drinks both – at least in print. According to,_not_stirred, “Bond orders 19 vodka martinis and 16 gin martinis throughout Fleming’s novels and short stories.”

  7. Abby says:

    I got this one quickly, but was also surprised to not find more in the grid.

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