MGWCC #412

crossword 3:21 
meta 5-10 minutes 


mgwcc412hello and welcome to episode #412 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Mixed Drinks”. first of all, many thanks to andy for pinch-blogging last week while i was traveling. (that was a really neat puzzle, too.) anyway, on to this week. for this week 4 puzzle, matt challenges us to find a well-known mixed drink (later amending that to a mixed alcoholic drink). what are the theme answers?

it really looks like there’s only one, the central across answer: {Mixed drink that’s not the contest answer — but which will give you the contest answer, if you make it enough times} SEVEN AND SEVEN. hoo boy, this is giving me flashbacks to one of my not favorite mgwcc metas from the distant past, in which we were tasked with coming up with SEVEN AND SEVEN as the meta answer but i had never heard of it. well, it’s five years later, and now i have (although i think i still have not seen it consumed or heard it discussed except in the context of that puzzle), but it’s not the answer.

so what is the answer? well, we have a somewhat unusual grid pattern: only 70 words and relatively large corners, with lots of seven-letter answers, so i thought about looking at those first. the key idea came to me a little while after that: look at where seven-letter answers intersect each other in the grid. there are eight such intersections and i’ve circled them in the screenshot. read in order, they spell out KAMIKAZE, which is indeed a mixed drink (i googled it).

i thought that wasn’t that tough for a week 4 of 5, but last week’s was unusually tricky for a week 3, so maybe that’s what matt was going for. either way, i’m expecting a killer week 5 as usual. also, i’m now curious what non-alcoholic mixed drink you could extract from this meta that caused matt to send out modified instructions on friday afternoon.


  • {“That’ll be big money!”} KA-CHING. this is just a great word. one of the top onomatopoeias, really.
  • {Rum giant} BACARDI. unrelated to the meta, despite being seven letters and an alcohol.
  • {National Metric Day’s mo.} OCT. i guess because it’s number 10? (despite being named from the latin for “eight”. oh, those wacky romans.)
  • {Feature of the name “Clarke”} SILENT E. this could have gotten a trickier clue. tangential note: there are going to be some new clues coming for SILENT O, aka SILENTÓ of “watch me (whip/nae nae)” fame. frank loesser can take a back seat.
  • {Disc golf and korfball} SPORTS. wait, korfball?!? korfball!

that’s all i’ve got this week. how’d you all like this one?

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48 Responses to MGWCC #412

  1. Ephraim says:

    I got stuck on thinking there were 14 (7+7) 7-letter words. But there are 15 because I missed AMANDAS right down the middle.

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 114 right answers this week.

    • joon says:

      that’s fewer than i expected (and fewer than last week). maybe i should have checked the leaderboard.

      what was the alternative non-alcoholic answer?

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        Oh, forgot to mention — it was TANG, since boxes 14, 28, 42, and 56 are GTAN. Not good enough to be correct, but good enough to warrant a clarification.

        • Dan Seidman says:

          Or, 7A and 7D intersect at a V — enough of those and you get V8.

        • Dave says:

          If you just use the 14 and 28, you get GT for Gin and Tonic. Who’s with me? No one? No one?

          Nice meta, though. Can’t believe I didn’t see it.

          • Raygirl says:

            In my comments to Matt I noted that “G” is the 7th letter of the alphabet and “T” is the 7th up (7UP) from z. So I’m with you– that was going to be my Hail Mary. It’s a better argument if the clue hadn’t said “if you make it enough times…”

            And Matt– I’d argue that V8 is a mixed drink. It is a mix of vegetables.

          • Thomas says:

            I tried pairing up symmetric 7’s, which didn’t yield anything too promising, but KACHIN(G & T)HERESE did catch my eye.

  3. jefe says:

    Oof, stumped. I was thrown off by the presence of 5 other “AND”s in the puzzle (HANDSETS, VANDAL, HANDEL, BOYBANDS, AMANDAS) and tried to make something out of the other letters.

    • Ephraim says:

      I noticed the ANDs also, especially since some crossed, and spent a few minutes making nothing from them.

      • Kaille says:

        This was my first contest puzzle and I was stumped. Like Ephraim and a few others, I spent a lot of time trying to make something of all of the “ands” in the puzzle, but came up empty-handed. I also tried working with letters in the squares with the number 7 in them, squares whose numbers added up to 7, squares whose numbers were multiples of 7, all for naught. Ultimately I decided I would just have to wait until the answer appeared here. Maybe next week!

        • Matt Gaffney says:

          This was pretty tough to be your first one. These get tougher as the month goes on, so next week’s will be unusually difficult (Week 5), but then the first of May’s will be easy.

      • Dan Seidman says:

        Same here. If there had been 7 instead of 5 I might never have moved on. I also spent a lot of time looking at the four rows comprised of two 7-letter entries.

    • Margaret says:

      I also saw all the ANDs, including the SEVENANDSEVEN, so I submitted Long Island Iced Tea. It’s a mixed drink with seven letters on each side of the AND. And it’s alcoholic, as opposed to a regular iced tea, so I was sure I had it!

  4. Wayne says:

    Normally on a grid like this, the first thing I do is highlight the theme answers. But I didn’t have a highlighter in my desk drawer. At 11:56, with no other leads, I wandered over to the supply room to get a yellow and pink marker for next week. Walking back, I had a thought. Highlighted the entries while leaning up against a wall in the hallway. And then RAN back to my desk to submit KAMIKAZE with 30 seconds to spare!

  5. CC says:

    I longshotted RUM AND COKE due to the symmetric BACARDI and SILENT E.

  6. Justin says:

    Yup, got stumped this week. I felt there had to be “mixing” of pairs of 7 letter answers somehow to make new words (?) but was also aware that with the odd # of 7 letter answers there was a flaw in this idea. Totally fair in hindsight.

  7. Wayne says:

    Oh also, the third letters of the seven letter words anagram to RYE COCKTAIL with ALE-T left over. Once I saw that, I had a lot of trouble unseeing it. It did inspire me to make (and consume!) a bunch of whiskey drinks last night.

  8. aoboboa says:

    Seven & seven = 14. The letters in the four multiples of 14 on the grid — 14, 28, 42 & 56 — give you G, T, A & N, which anagram to TANG, every astronaut’s favorite mixed drink.

  9. Scott says:

    Wow! I got the right answer, but in a totally different way. Seven And Seven led me to the clues for 7A and 7D. 7A was clued as Mindless Destroyer, which made me think of a kamikaze. Well, that wasn’t tight enough to be sure about the answer so I looked at 7D clued as Wind Indicator. Well, kamikaze translates to Divine Wind in Japanese. That was enough for me. I almost can’t believe that this led me to the right answer in the wrong way.

  10. Paul Coulter says:

    I hope this doesn’t come off as (whiskey) sour grapes, but now that I see the intended result, I like my answer of TANG as much, or maybe a bit better. When we were told it had to be an ALCOHOLIC mixed drink, I spent half the weekend mixing the 7 letter words, but it turned out we were supposed to cross, not mix. Maybe it’s just me, but when you “make” x & y, it doesn’t come close to connoting a selection of the subset where they intersect. Like Ephraim and Jefe, I also spent a lot of time trying to account for the six ANDs in the grid. Perhaps we needed to mix a seventh, such as gin & tonic. After confirming there was no 70, I was all but sure TANG was right. I thought Matt was doubling down on last week’s cleverness in the directions – obviously, mixed drink usually refers to a cocktail, but Tang is a drink you mix. Another thing that bothers me is that the title says mixed drinks, plural. However, there are no other drinks involved in arriving at Kamikaze. Tough way to lose my best streak ever.

  11. TNGal says:

    With the letter V in the box 7, I went down the path of 5+5 many times equaling the drink Four Score. I like Kamikaze but I like my answer, too.

  12. Daniel Barkalow says:

    I was misled by 9D and 20A into ignoring the 7-letter down answers most of the time. I stared at the collection of answers a lot (sometimes including down answers), but didn’t think to look at them all in the grid, and the across answers obviously didn’t do anything interesting in the grid.

  13. Gwinns says:

    I never found TANG, although it was in my mind that it might be a “trick” mixed drink (I was trying to pull the letters in “KOOL-AID” out of the 7-letter answers.)

    But once it clicked, the instructions seemed fair. In the grid, you “make” a seven and seven by finding the intersection of a seven-letter word and another seven-letter word. It seems the difference for me was I never went down the path of thinking Matt was asking us to make a ‘mixed drink.’ I asked “in a puzzle, what would I call a ‘7 and 7’?”

  14. Raygirl says:

    I too assumed the “virgin” answer was V8 because box 7 was a V.

    So, a 7 and 7 is Seagrams Crown 7 and 7UP. I was convinced that Matt was looping in his chess side and tried to make a chessboard out of various quadrants so I could move a crown (a king? A queen?) 7 and then another crown 7 up somehow. Blergh.

    Ultimately (and I mean after a bunch of rabbit holes) I crossed the sevens with the seven ups and found the answer. Matt’s solutions are always way more simple and elegant than my false starts. When will I remember that?

  15. Garrett says:

    This one just eluded me. I was counting letters in the grid, taking words at multiples of 7 (grid numbers), and stacking 7-letter words looking for a pattern. Just did not think about intersections. As a hail mary I submitted Blackjack (which is a mixed alcoholic cocktail, though I’d say not well known), and here is what led me to that, FWIIW…

    1. HAND appears twice in the grid, leading HANDset and HANDel
    2. CARD is buried in BaCARDi
    3. ODDS is buried in atODDS
    4. DREWON is suggestive of cards
    5. TER leads TERcel — suggestive of three.
    6. JACK leads JACKie, and is under a black square
    7. 7 & 7 & 7 is 21.
    8. The clue for 4D has 21 in it.

    Still, it bothered me greatly that the answer did not “feel” right, though, because I figured it had to be sets of 7&7, so three 7s seemed askew. But, as Matt has said, if you don’t submit something you have a 100% chance of being incorrect, and zero chance of being correct (paraphrased). I do like the actual true answer, and it was very cleverly hidden.

    Joon, thanks for the reference to the other mixed drink puzzle. I remembered going through the mixed drink list for another MGWCC puz (exhausting list!) but could not recall the actual puzzle.

  16. J Bowzer says:

    Stuck on so many false leads:

    1. Anagram 2 7-letter words to make a drink name
    2. Anagram 2 7-letter words to make ingredients for a drink (SLOVAKS + = vodka + ?)
    3. Lots of *AND* words (VANDAL, HANDEL, AMANDAS, BOYBANDS)?
    4. ANYIDEA = A New York Idea = Long Island Iced Tea (LONGISL “and” ICEDTEA)

    Of course like Raygirl said it’s always simple and elegant.

  17. Norm H says:

    This one really stumped me — I never even had, ahem, a shot.
    I did enjoy seeing the stack of BACARDI ONTHE…

  18. Matthew G. says:

    Drat. I tried so many different tricks that relied on two uses of sevens — for example, I looked at the seventh letter of every seven-letter entry, I looked at the seventh letter of every clue for a seven-letter entry, and I looked at the entries whose clue numbers were divisible by seven — but I didn’t think to look at intersecting seven-letter entries.

    C’est la vie — at least I got the harder-than-usual Week 3 before I missed the easier-than-usual Week 4.

    The SEVEN AND SEVEN is my wife’s standard drink. Maybe I should have enlisted her aid.

  19. Scott says:

    Norm H – great pun!

  20. Robert V Hutchinson says:

    This is my second miss in a row.

    I’m not going to claim that the meta was unfair or anything like that, because it wasn’t. But when you say “mixed drinks” repeatedly in a word puzzle, then tell me to “make” mixed drinks, I’m never going to get away from anagramming. I spent the majority of my time trying to find two 7-letter answers that would anagram into something like GIN AND VERMOUTH.

  21. Pete Rimkus says:

    Gonna go out on a limb here, but in Set Theory, the “intersection” of two sets is defined as the elements that are in one set AND also in the other set.
    So whether or not Matt new it, when he stuck “Seven and Seven” in the middle of the puzzle, he was asking for ‘intersections’ where the sets are seven-letter words.
    Not that I saw it…

  22. PJ Ward says:

    I never thought it would fly but I couldn’t get away from a French 77.

  23. ASB says:

    No U’s in the grid. Thought that had to be intentional.

    • Paul Coulter says:

      I noticed this, too. Very “U”nusual in a 15×15 grid. So I played around to see if U for Up was involved somehow, as in 7Up.

  24. Joe Eckman says:

    Fittingly, my streak was broken at 7…

  25. Steve Blais says:

    Went in through the backdoor on this one.

    I noticed the Z sitting all by itself down in the SE. Seeing as that was an unusual place to stick a Z, I started thinking of mixed drinks that had a Z in them, possibly towards the end of their name. When I came up with KAMIKAZE I scoured the grid looking for the other letters that make up that word. There was the E right below the Z and in the exactly symmetrical opposite part of the grid to the ZE was KA. So far so good. Since K is a relatively uncommon letter, I looked for another one next. There’s the KA in JAKARTA, corresponding to the MI in MARKING. This was way too coincidental for me, but of course I still had to justify it.

    I knew the seven-letter words had something to do with the meta, but it took me a little longer to notice where they all intersected. And that’s why the letters I had found were relevant!

  26. John ellis says:

    Apparently no one multiplied 7×7 and came up with 49. The answer to 49a is BBS which gave me the classic cocktail B&B (Brandy and Benedictine). The S fit the “Mixed Drinks” title. Ah well, on to week 5.

  27. LuckyGuest says:

    I too got caught up in the “AND”s for a little too long, but what mostly struck me was Matt’s use of the phrase “…if you *make it* enough times” (specifically, not “…if you *drink it* enough times.” So I thought of multiples of “7 and 7,” which led me to a mixed drink called a “252;” half Wild Turkey 101 and half 151 rum (and if you “make” a 7 + 7 18 times, you get “252”). I buy Matt’s version of “making 7 and 7s” now, but man, I thought I had it. And Kaille, you picked a tough week to start out — and next week is a rare Week 5 — but it looks like you have what it takes to join the solvers really soon.

  28. qtFowler says:

    If you make it several times and drink it several times, might you be inclined to bang into a wall. Was I the only Harvey Wallbanger? I was obviously miles away from the correct answer.

    • Margaret says:

      Yep, I also wanted Harvey Wallbanger for that reason, but discarded it for not having any affiliations with seven. OTOH, my seven (letter) AND seven (letter) answer of Long IslAND Iced Tea wasn’t right either.

  29. Scott says:

    Margaret, that answer is an amazing find too!

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