Clear libation popular in England / WED 3-12-14 / England's Fergie, formally / Nickname for $2 Canadian coin / Clear libation popular in Japan / Fifth-century pope called Great / Fizzy dinner quaff / Old-timey agreements

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Constructor: Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "DRINKS ALL AROUND" (38A: "I'm buying!," at a bar … or a hint to this puzzle's theme) — all the answers around the periphery of the grid are drinks, with each "side" of answers being clued with a similar frame of reference

  • MILK JUICE and TEA are all clued by color *and* (?) breakfast
  • GIN VODKA and SAKE are all clued by countries where they are "popular"
  • MEAD CIDER and ALE are all clued by production method: fermentation
  • POP WATER and WINE are all clued as "dinner quaff"s (?!?!)

Word of the Day: KERI (19A: Body lotion brand) —
Keri Lotion is a brand name of moisturizing lotion introduced by Novartis Consumer Health. The brand has traditionally included different types of Keri Lotion such as Keri- Original, Keri- Advanced, Keri- Shea Butter, Keri- Basic Essential, Keri- Luxurious, and Keri- moisture rich oil. […]  Keri Lotion was first introduced by Bristol-Myers Squibb, to the American public in 1960. Keri lotion was put into doctor offices and hospitals, which was how the product was promoted. This type of lotion has been around for about fifty years. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well this is a step up from the last two days of puzzles, but there are some major thematic problems. Let me put that more positively—the core concept (center revealer, peripheral drinks) is cute, interesting, light, fun, great. But the cluing is a disaster. Sometimes when you try to get fancy with things you end up destroying them, and that is definitely what happened here. The groupings are terribly forced, such that the cluing at times seems absurd and arbitrary. The best grouping is MEAD CIDER and ALE. Fermentation holds them together nicely. The "Clear libation popular in" group holds together a little less well, largely because VODKA and SAKE have such strong associations with their countries, where England's with GIN is much, much weaker. Is GIN any more "popular" in England *now* (which is what the clue implies) than it is here? That little NE corner was By Far the hardest part of the puzzle for me because a. lotion brand? b. TSKED!?!? c. [Clear libation popular in England] didn't say GIN to me at all. I had No idea what was going on there. I have lots of GIN in my cupboard. I do not live in England. Oh, and then there's d. TEA is "tan" now? "Tan"? Really. Slacks are tan. Trousers. In what universe would anyone refer to TEA as "tan"? So, yeah, that breakfast grouping is awkward. JUICE is only orange if it's orange JUICE. But the worst grouping, by far, by a million miles, is the "dinner" group. POP and WATER have nothing to do with "dinner." There is no strong *or* weak association between those beverages and "dinner." The breakfast beverages cohere fine and would've worked if you'd left color out of it. But the "dinner" beverages Don't Work At All as a grouping. So the cluing is a train wreck. No need to get fancy with the core concept, but well enough apparently could not be left alone (passive voice!). Too bad.


Fill is OK. Not great, but at least the two longer Downs are colorful (SNOOKERED, PAPER DOLL). You gotta get the most out of your longer answers, and all the 7+ answers are at least decent.

That's enough.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Jesus H. Christ, Jr. 12:08 AM  

Finally, finally, the NYTimes breaks its trend as the official mouthpiece of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, if only in the puzzle. Nonetheless, it has defnitively stated that POPS turned WATER into WINE.

wreck 12:14 AM  

I thought it was well done. Great Wednesday

Anonymous 12:17 AM  

The above comment was clearly an attempt at humour, of which it utterly failed.

Now, this is a great reinterpretation of a phrase. Fill does suffer a bit, but nothing that's unusual for the NYT. With the difficult theme restraints, this is an achievement.

Overall, I think this is a good puzzle. There are issues, but most of them aren't too serious.

Curious 12:28 AM  

Probably not everyone knows that Jeff Chen writes his own terrific crossword blog. (@Rex, you link to every crossword blog in the universe except Jeff's. Oversight or intentional?)

jae 12:41 AM  

Easy and very cute.  Made me smile.  Plus stuff like... TOONIE, the DONT STARE/EAGLE EYE pair, SNOOKERED, DEREK, TITTER... provided some extra zip.  So, liked it much more than Rex.  

Didn't the Brits turn a juniper based Dutch medicine into GIN the libation?

Fun Wed. good Gestalt! 

Carola 1:04 AM  

Nicely done theme with a great reveal, which was the last thing I filled in - when "DRINKS Are on me" wouldn't fit, I gave up and went elsewhere. I'm embarrassed to admit that I failed to put FOURS and SEIS together when filling in those various libations and quaffs - I didn't see that the DRINKS went ALL AROUND until I had the reveal. I liked SLUG crossing GIN.

@chefwen - I've flown the frozen wastes of Wisconsin and am very happy to be going barefoot and wearing shorts in your neck of the woods (or ocean)!

Elle54 1:09 AM  

Cute! Liked it a lot!

Steve J 1:14 AM  

Thought this was a lot of fun. I personally loved the parallel cluing, and I thought it worked across the board. The dinner ones are the most tenuous, but even then I regularly drink all of them with that meal (soda, er POP, being the least frequent).

Seventy percent of the world's GIN is produced in the UK. Some of that's Scottish, but most of it's English. GIN absolutely has a very strong association with England, as strong as Russia's association with VODKA.

Outside the theme, SNOOKERED was great and PAPER DOLL was very good. A few more abbreviations and partials than would be ideal, but they didn't detract from overall enjoyment of this at all.

Paper Doll 1:35 AM  

Cheers, All! I might be drunk, but I liked it...

August West 1:37 AM  

Rex used to link to Jeff's place. Before he took it down.

chefwen 1:37 AM  

After a SLUG of GIN, VODKA, WINE, CIDER, and ALE I was feeling pretty JUICED up. Cute, easy puzzle, liked it a lot.

@Carola - Welcome back to the Islands, are you on Maui again? Time to come to Kauai and enjoy some Wenderful Muffins. Free to Crossword Lovers. I am hopeful that the rains stay away for your visit.

Benko 1:45 AM  

Yes, I guarantee that all of the good gin in Rex's cupboard is from England.
And English style tea, which is English breakfast or Earl Grey with some milk or cream added, certainly appears tan.
Yet another bunch of nonsense in the search to appear smarter than the NYT. I think maybe I have become the 1000th person to give up on Rex and his comments.

JTHurst 3:38 AM  

@Benko I don't believe you should give up on Rex's comments. His analysis of the groupings was insightful. I felt the same way he did, that the fermentation process was the strongest grouping and the dinner quaff was the weakest. So I learned something from his explanation.

I always thought the $2 coin was the 'twonie' but I can see the possibility of 'toonie'.

When I was a lad someone told me you could tell what part of the country you were from by what you called soft drinks. I believe if you were from the Eastern states (NY) you called it 'soda' and from Chicago you called it 'pop' or maybe that was vice versa. And if you were from the hinterlands (Red states) you called it 'sody pop'.

Good puzzle.

CBCD 4:57 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle.

However - who thinks soda pop is a good thing to drink with dinner? Water, yes. Soda, no, no, no.

Danp 5:14 AM  

The theme answers could have been clued without defining them as beverages. That would have made it more fun to discover the theme and revealer. I didn't notice the groupings so much as wince at adjectives like white, tan, plain and genteel.

Anonymous 5:36 AM  

Of course England for gin. London Dry gin is the most popular gin appellation in the world.

Moly Shu 7:02 AM  

Liked it very much. Had the same solving problem as OFL in the NE. I think TSKED did me in. Yeah, the orange JUICE seemed a little off to me, but the long downs made up for it.

Same reaction as @JTHurst to the twoNIE-TOONIE. Tried both, wrong one first.

Not a big drinker, so won't get in to the GIN discussion, but apparently I've learned something ( again ) from crosswords and this blog. GIN=England Thx gang

Anonymous 7:09 AM  

Rex, How is this medium? Milk, juice?? I didn't even bother reading the long clue, just filled it in...instead of easy, medium etc how about less boring, boring ....lately I just don't feel challenged...:(

Mohair Sam 7:31 AM  

Very easy Wednesday. Clever theme with much less junk fill than the past couple of days. We enjoyed, it just filled too fast.

@Rex had a point on a couple of strained clues (JUICE, TEA), but lost me with his rant on GIN. To many drinkers GIN is as English as VODKA is Russian. It was like he was looking for trouble.

Do your family a favor and, unless you're having pizza, keep soda POP off your dinner table. Yuck.

Glimmerglass 7:38 AM  

I liked it better than Rex did, but I almost always do. I had none of Rex's quibbles about the theme, but I have one more. Only hard CIDER is fermented. CIDER is pressed from apples. Apples are not fermented whole.

AliasZ 7:47 AM  

I AM SO drunk, I can't street say. It was free DRINKS ALL AROUND -- who bouldn't we? I tell you, that Chef Jenn is one denerous jude. But who in his might rind would rye a bound of mawter and wilk? Or jop and puce? And cee and tider? Unless it's hard tider and there is some Wirish iskey in that cee.

Now I gotta go fleep it oss. CIAO everyone.


Anonymous 7:51 AM  

That should be risolto making it a loonie down. risolto and risotto are apparently the same thing. But a $2 coin is a loonie. Golfballman

joho 8:05 AM  

Wow, I would never have guessed that @Rex would be so critical of this little gem!

I marveled at how Jeff tucked each beverage so neatly and cleanly into the border and then hit us with a great reveal with DRINKSALLAROUND. Super clever!

I actually TSKED. Speaking of which I thought "Clucked" was the perfect clue for that. KERI is very well known to me and I do associate GIN with England so I had none of @Rex's struggle in that corner.

Loved SNOOKERED, too.

Fun Wednesday, thank you, Jeff!

John V 8:16 AM  

Fun. Really liked the revealer. Pretty easy, save for area around 41A.

Parsing drink types/groupings, etc, strikes me as a distinction without a difference. What is the point?

Pretty tough stuff making NW and SE corners work with two theme answers in each, intersecting. One expects a touch of fill compromise to make that happen. I think it worked fine.

mac 8:16 AM  

I would only consider wine or water with my risotto.

Easy theme, I filled in the outside after the top three lines were filled in, and I too had more trouble with gin than the other ones. I'm amazed Jenever was considered a medicine, ever, in Holland? I don't see it around much, only older people may have a little shot. A lot more wine and beer and energy drink.

I used to love my paper dolls, but those little tags you hang the clothes on the doll with tended to fall off too quickly.

Susan McConnell 8:26 AM  

I thought this was a super easy Wednesday. Fun theme and reveal, but I agree with Rex about the forced clues. The puzzle would have been better off without them.

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

It's Wednesday, but the difficulty level was that of a Monday or maybe an easy Tuesday tops. I continue to disagree with Shortz's policy of sacrificing the user's challenge in solving experience for what he apparently deems some clever construction feat. It's unfortunate we can't bring Eugene T. Maleska back, because he understood what people liked about these puzzles and got it right.

Andrew Morrison 8:31 AM  

Fastest Wed ever, so, I rate this easy

A CAD$1 is a loonie. Thus, the CAD$2 is a TOONIE. Puzzle is correct.

Tea is very definitely tan as served in England. GIN is as English as appl...well, you get the idea. Let's say it's as English as English Bulldogs. At any rate, I often note that Rex rants most about cultural or historical knowldege to which he is not privy. Recent hip-hop artists always seem to garner kudos, whereas things like GIN or BURMAROAD are knocked.

NCA President 8:42 AM  

TEA is tan if you make it with cream/milk and sugar...but then, coffee is tan if you put cream/milk in it...JOE would fit there too, but it would be wrong.

POP is what we call soda in the midwest. I now live in the southeast and when I say POP, they look at me funny. Down here, it's all Coke...or coke.

JUICE, IMHO, could have been clued a few different can be purple, red, and even green.

EdFromHackensack 8:45 AM  

Beefeaters GIN, 'nuff said. Also TEA is tan, especially when you add milk. Loved this puzzle

lawprof 8:59 AM  

Super easy for a Wednesday, but the clever theme made it a satisfying experience. Agree that the bottom-line dinner clues were pretty tenuous, but prefer that to eliminating the commonalities of the remaining peripheral answers. Lots of zippy fill; not a lot of dross. One writeover: LEDin/LEDUP, quickly fixed by crosses.

loren muse smith 9:01 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
loren muse smith 9:09 AM  

I do have a strong association of England with GIN, and I've taken to having a spot of TEA everyday with the requisite MILK (not cream, puleeze, sniff, sniff) and mine is definitely not only tan, but a dishwater -greyish tan.

@JTHurst, NCA President – where I'm from, they're "soft drinks" or "cokes". "Still struggling " with that $#@% close quote now. " " And once you're orientated to life in the south, tacos could be sammiches. Hi, Dad.

Putting themers around the periphery is hard enough – to categorize them so neatly is quite another. For me, that puts this one a, uh, cut above.

As a former waitress in several restaurants, I have to weigh in that the POP, WATER, WINE group is not so far-fetched. Of course the three drinks in each group cannot be inclusive, so I have no problem with this dinner group. In a 65x65, he could have added other drinks in all the groups, but I definitely served those three at dinner all the time.

Ah, but what everyone is missing here is Jeff's subtle insertion of some poignant, formative moments of his life; each drink is crossed with a key word pertinent to an event that helped shaped him into that arrogant, strutting, insufferable know-it-all lots of us have come to fear and avoid. Right. (Lurkers and newbies – just so you know, Jeff is officially the nicest person in Crossworld, and I'm a shameless Chen TAN-noser.)

MILK/KENTS – he took up smoking at a tender young age. Such a shame. (RASP is coming up below)
JUICE /IBAR – he and, uh, OJ were detained for questioning once involving a dust-up in a COVE. Details are sketchy, and to this day no one knows how the weapon happened to be right there at hand and how Jeff grabbed it first.
TEA/TSK – TEA rhymes with. . .Well, put it this way – JUSTIN Bieber and that mop bucket? He's got nothing on our own Chen. No way, man.
GIN/KERI – Ms. Russell once had to take out a restraining order against Jeff, but, hey, that was back in the '80s right after he had discovered the wonders of a dirty Bombay martini.
VODKA/TIME TO GO. There are so many stories here; I can't even begin to choose the best one. My avatar shows one such story, the instant right before the police had to be called in.
SAKE/EWOK – Well. Let's just say "awkward" and leave the rest to the imagination.
WATER – the outlier. Jeff just never played it safe. If only...
POP/LED UPHop on POP LED UP to Jeff's current writing style. He hasn't been picked up by a publisher yet, but we're all hopeful. His pseudonym – "Dr. JUICE." LINT, FLINT - LINT on FLINT. . .
ALE/ARCED – Jeff once discovered the physics of being thrown through the window of a pub after pestering unsuspecting patrons by channeling his inner Eastwood and incessantly visiting tables, saying, mysteriously, "CIAO" in a creepy RASP.
CIDER/CSA – Hard CIDER never failed to bring out Jeff's inner boisterous Confederate Soldier reenactor. Unfortunately, there was this time at the Met during a performance of Tosca. . .well, suffice it to say they don't serve CIDER at intermissions anymore. And access to the stage has been tightened up considerably.
MEAD/EPEE –Immediately after the Tosca spectacle, Jeff discovered that his EPEE could serve as a makeshift catapult for RISOTTO at Nobu's. The lady did not join in Jeff's delight. Nobu graciously picked up the dry-cleaning bill.

Hey, Jeff –I loved it. (And as a fledgling constructor, I was gobsmacked by those two corner squares. Definitely revisiting one of my own grids. Why didn't that occur to me????) Thanks, AMIGO!

Z 9:10 AM  

GIN - check.
TEA is tan (especially at breakfast) - check
POP - This one hasn't been totally covered yet... WATER or WINE here, but if you have your dinner at Mickey D's or Burger Whop you are going to have a POP with it.
JUICE - apple or tomato may make a rare appearance, but it is generally orange JUICE at breakfast.

I think the theme and cluing is spot on. There have times when I wondered if it is me or the puzzle. In this case, if you think there are weaknesses in the theme, it's you, not the puz.

Here in the area south of FLINT and north of Canada I was out and about without a jacket yesterday. Today I'm deciding when to go out to shovel the sidewalk. Mailman comes at 11:00 so I'm thinking 10:30.

chefbea 9:18 AM  

Great puzzle!! Loved it!! No problems, just wiped right thru it. Of course love risotto!!

Sir Hillary 9:20 AM  

Nice theme, great revealer. Agree the clue groupings are a bridge too far, but not far enough to ruin the puzzle for me.

I will pile on @Rex for his take on gin. Beefeater, Tanqueray, Bombay, Hendricks, Gordons -- all these popular gins are British. There are artisanal gins produced all over the US (and, I presume, the world) but gin is the archetypal English spirit.

I'm clinking my glass in a toast to Jeff Chen!

OISK 9:36 AM  

Another "yea" vote for this one. Perfectly "Wednesday." Liked the theme, I can tolerate one brand name (Keri) although I think Keri Russell is pretty well known (and pretty pretty), and would have provided a more attractive clue. Like most here, I knew that gin is essentially a British concoction, however, even though I take my tea with milk, (tan) I agree with Rex that tea itself is not tan. It is tannic, but not tan. More orangey, I would say.
Oh, and Coke goes with everything, but especially with spicy Chinese food. It has always been a "dinner beverage" in my house. I do prefer cream soda with deli.

MetaRex 9:53 AM  

The failed quest for speed, chapter MMDII:

Failed to notice the (to) in the "was a prelude (to)" clue and wrote in LED TO...

Thought POO was a kinda weird dinner drink, but hey Jeff C. has a deeper sense of humor than mine...

Clicked done and got the incorrect signal...

Fixed up the prob in 15 seconds...finished 12 seconds and 6 seconds behind my pace cars...

jberg 10:03 AM  

This one was lots of fun. I didn't even notice the clue grouping on each side-- which, let me be the first to point out, has you start your day with breakfast and end it with dinner. And Jeff deserves only pity for having to drink POP with dinner. (btw, that's what we called it back in Wisconsin; when I first moved to MA it was "tonic" there. Now I think it's mostly brand names.)

I can understand @Rex's criticisms, but they raise a philosophical question I have raised before: if you try and fall short, is it better to submit the partial result, or to go back to something simpler? I kind of admire each additional element of complexity, even while yearning for more. (I'm with @Danp, non-beverage cluing would have been great. You can do that for JUICE, GIN, SAKE, POP, arguable for MEAD, MILK, TEA -- pretty hard for VODKA, WATER, ALE, but maybe there are other beverages available.) Similarly, if the sides had been lunch-related; or the theme entries had marched around the grid clockwise, with the bottom row and left side in reversed order. But does the absence of those extra fillips degrade the puzzle? Not for me, I guess.

Very minor cavil at EPEE -- in that sport, only a touch with the tip counts, the edge is not a blade at all. In saber, where you score with the edge, the blade has to be blunted, but epees are just round.

What I learned: how to indicate an UPBOW. What I need to learn: why you'd want to.

An Anglophobe 10:17 AM  

I too associate GIN with the British. Both are repuslive.

Mikey From ABQ 10:19 AM  

Wow, I did this puzzle and immediately thought, "How will Rex slam this one?" It was tight, multi-dimensional wrt theme, and good fill. Well, Rex decided he knows more about gin than he actually does. If you asked anyone in the know what a popular libation in England is, you get three answers: Tea, Ale, Gin. If you said it's clear, then that leaves only gin.
Rex, just because you don;t know something, doesn't make it wrong or weak. That clue and answer were clearly out of YOUR wheelhouse, but not many other people. You demonstrated that you don;t always know what you don't know.

My Mother-in-law is a dog 10:20 AM  

Complaining that an answer is weak because it doesn't work "backwards" (Orange / JUICE) is like complaining Rex is a stupid blogger since not all bloggers are Rex.

loren muse smith 10:27 AM  

The above was not me. My mother-in-law is a joy and most certainly a non-complainer.

Two Ponies 10:40 AM  

Lots of fun. Thanks Jeff.
In England, if it's drinks all around there will likely be plenty of G&T's. Very in-the-language over there.

Thanks to those chiming in on the Loonie Toonie issue. Learned something new.

Slow Motion 11:05 AM  

Wonderful Wednesday! Not just Drinks All Around, but breakfast drinks, clear distilled drinks, fermented drinks, and dinner drinks. I learned about upbows and toonies. Rex is being a CAD in a SNIT. Thanks, Jeff!

JFC 11:12 AM  

I agree this was easy for Wednesday. I also think the theme was clever and well executed. As for the cluing, I am thinking Rex’s write-up was completely tongue in cheek or Rex hates Jeff....


Steve J 11:29 AM  

@Z: Agreed on burgers and POP. They're one of the two things with which I'll drink soda/POP, in the event I'm not having a beer. The other is pizza. Beer's the perfect beverage for both, but when I'm not drinking for whatever reason, soda's a better fit than water or wine (although some wines can work with some pizzas).

@jberg: I hadn't noticed starting with breakfast and ending with dinner. Nice touch.

jae 11:36 AM  

@mac -- I think the Dutch used juniper to flavor the medicine to make it more palatable. Probably should have said juniper flavored instead of juniper based.

Lewis 12:03 PM  

Probably should have run Tuesday. You can tell with Jeff that he thinks everything out with great care, doesn't just dash out a puzzle.

Except for FAV, I think this puzzle could have run 30 years ago -- but no problem for me!

ESAU/LAID/ARCED/POP down there in the SW -- made for an interesting visualization...

Gill I. P. 12:12 PM  

Cute puzzle but it felt kinda dumb sizing for a Wed.
Agree with @Rex about the cluing but not about GIN. If you're in the area and want to see something classy, visit the Plymouth distillery which is the oldest working distillery in the world. They make - are you read? - Plymouth GIN...
The only problem I had was not remembering Fergie's name!!!! She's been out of the picture for a while and it took some effort to conjure up her name.
Here's crossing fingers for a savage Thursday.

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

What's UP with 3 UPs?

19A should've been "Felicity" star.
Less naticky than body lotion crossing TSKED.

Cute theme.
UnFAV fill: ASAN

Andrew Heinegg 12:38 PM  

I think that Rex gets a bit 'techcrosswordese' in his analyses at times. That said, I am in complete agreement with him on this one. It is uninteresting and simplistic. Crosswords are supposed to make you think. Mr. Chen' s constructions do not do that for me. They are
boring, which is the worst thing a crossword can be.

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

It was a good puzzle today . Clues were fun and it filled quickly. I don't have the issues Rex had with any of the Beverages but Clucked as a clue for TSKed is completely unacceptable.

The definition for Clucked and TSK are related only in the sense that they are both sounds. Nothing bugs me more than when an otherwise very strong and fun puzzle is wrecked by horrible cluing like this. It feels more like the goal is just to make the word impossible to get without crosses as apposed to something you could "solve" for. I also don't relate Gin to British from a "popularity " standpoint as much as from a production sense. but it is still gettable.

Everything else was a breeze and an enjoyable theme.

Lewis 12:42 PM  

Oh, and @loren -- terrific post!

Numinous 12:51 PM  

Sorry, I'm going nuts here. @a lot of you. Youre WRONG. What you are calling "tan" especially @Rex. is beige or sand or buff. TAN is a reddish brown, the color you get from soaking untanned leather in water with tanbark or acorns or any of the other natural tanning agents. Think of your TAN penny loafers. Amongst the things I've done is working with leather. I've had occasion to dye quite a bit of it. Everything I've dyed using TAN dye has come out a rich reddish brown, never looking like coffee or tea with milk or cream.

GIN was the scourge of the working class in England in the 19th century. London GINmills were the hangouts of prostitutes and cutthroats. It was the target of temperance movements and Rowland drew many cartoons depicting the evils of GIN. Bombay Sapphire is my favorite.

I liked this effort from Jeff. I didn't find it hard, I had no trouble with TSKED, got KERI from crosses. For some reason this took me longer than it should have. I thought POP was egregious but to be honest, there have been times when Coca Cola was the drink of choice at my dinner table. I'm sure this is the case in millions of American homes.

Thanks Jeff, this was amusing.

mac 1:03 PM  

@jae: Jenever is indeed flavored with juniper, but I've only ever known it as hard liquor.

Carola 1:07 PM  

@chefwen - Yes, Maui keeps calling us back. It would be fun if I could POP over for a muffin, cup of TEA, and a chat :) You know, I won't mind's not going to have the dread "freezing" parked in front of it!

@jberg - Thanks for pointing out breakfast and dinner.

wreck 1:13 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
wreck 1:15 PM

I think of "tan" as more Khaki like, but this depiction fits Numinous' idea better. It is closer to "tea" (without milk)!

Chris 1:15 PM  

Another positive vote for the puzzle, albeit very easy for a Wed., and another very negative vote for Rex's gin rant. Concur with the person who said he seemed to be just looking for something to complain about. Really ridiculous.

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

@Curious: Amy doesn't link to Jeff's blog either. Seems the crossword insiders don't like Jeff much. On the other hand, everyone seems to like his puzzles.

Numinous 1:31 PM  

@wreck, (tongue slightly in cheek here) Yeah, Khaki. In Commonwealth countries it's pronounced Kaah-key (as in "paak the caah"). All those colors (colours) have their own names, beige, buff, sand, ecru, khaki, and, of course, tan. We're all xworders here and should know what colors are represented, especially when it comes to tan.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 1:41 PM  

Good themers-on-the-edge puz from one of my very favest constructioneers, Jeff Chen. My chai TEA last nite at The India Palace definitely qualified as tan. Have had POP here for dinner, occasionally -- usually with MOM in tow. Hopefully that'll clear all them beverages up.

fave weeject: FAV.
fave fillins: TIMETOGO. JUSTIN. UPLATE. And all of them other answers with the UP's.

Pretty cool that 4-Oh came out as high as 63, while just on the "coast" solve setting. Need to honor both the serious and not serious modes, somehow. Maybe could call him 4063? Need to chew on it a spell...


Bird 1:43 PM  

Liked the theme and mostly agree with @Rex about the clues for the themers. The added trivia was not necessary and made the solve a little easier.
- Clue the East wall as “clear libation”
- Clue the West wall as “fermented beverage”
- Clue the North wall as “breakfast beverage”
- Clue the South wall as “beverage of choice”

Only other nit is that not all the beverages in the grid are typically ordered at a bar when someone buys the house a round. Children aside, who is going to order a glass of milk? Seltzer, pop and coffee are the usual alternatives if one is staying sober.

@AliasZ - lol

Happy Humpday!

Z 1:43 PM  

"Tan" can represent a whole range of colors which, depending on the end of winter start point, may be anywhere from slightly less white than alabaster to something approaching ebony come late summer. Some of these hues are close to tea with a little milk in them.

@anon12:39 - Gladys Kravitz often TSKED or clucked at her window as she watched the weirdness at the Stephens' household.

DeeJay 2:04 PM  

I'm really surprised nobody else reacted the same way I did. There was an opportunity to clue each of the theme answer indirectly instead of directly, making the revealer actually reveal something.

Had I constructed this, I might have gone with clues like

1-A Harvey ____
5-A Electricity
10-A Texas ___
1-D Anthropologist Margaret
25-D "_____ House Rules"
51-D ???

Okay, I'm seeing a problem with Ale and with Vodka, but I think if anyone else agrees with me we can solve this puppy.

Does anyone else agree?

Numinous 2:18 PM  

@DeeJay, not sure I agree but

58-D "For heaven's ____"
Did you not consider
33_D Wyborowa _____ (not even Russian)
51-D ___ house; Old English pub.

@Z makes an interesting point, however, for skin a little less white than alabaster, the first suggestion of "tan" is very often a very angry red. All the rest of the shades leading up to nearly ebony are reddish.
A Black and Tan is made with Guinness and Ale, reddish.
Saddles and other tack are "tan", reddish
Holsters and gunbelts are often "tan."

I'm linguist enough to know that all the various manifestations of khaki are commonly referred to as "tan" and that common usage eventually makes it so. No matter how many times I hit this horse with my "tan" whip, it still won't whinny. But common usage don't necessarily make it "right." The rabbit hole not to fall down here is forgetting ALL of the hues represented by the word "tan."

Unknown 2:21 PM  

I must drink too much. This played like an easy Monday for me.

Davis 2:25 PM  

As a tea snob, I am thoroughly appalled at all the people sullying the world's greatest (non-tan) beverage with milk.

I'm (mostly) kidding, of course. But I agree with Rex that "tan" is a terrible clue for tea.

Jeff Lewis 2:27 PM  

If you are eating a fast food value meal, pop is included. You could substitute water, or milk with an up charge.

Anoa Bob 2:49 PM  

Isn't fermentation, the hook for the clues for MEAD, CIDER & ALE also a part of the process for making GIN, VODKA & SAKE?

And where is that nourishing, full-of-whole-grain-goodness drink, the one that Ben Franklin said was proof that God loves us, BEER?

R. McGeddon 2:59 PM  

GIN was the scourge of the working class in England in the 19th century.

And before. In 1751 Hogarth created two side-by-side prints, Beer Street and Gin Lane. The first show happy and healthy people, the second show a bunch of wasted addicts.

Z 3:07 PM  

@Anoa Bob - The right side needs fermentation AND distillation while the beerless left only needs fermentation.

@Numinous - the fair-haired side of my family burns and peels, while the dark-haired side tans and rarely gets any reddish hue to the skin. Being half and half myself, I typically remain firmly in the brown hues unless early spring sun causes me to be out longer than I ought. I will let you decide why my google search for "tan skin color" is so gender biased.

Numinous 3:14 PM  

Sorry @Z, I had intended to mention fair skinned in that post.

dk 3:18 PM  

🌕🌕🌕(3 Moons) Too easy - but fun. I like the eddy of drinks swirling about

Yesterday drugs, today alcohol. Hope we have sex or rock and roll tomorrow.

@Z, hand up for ecru… tan for the jet set.

Z 3:25 PM  

@Numinous - no need to apologize. I find the differing understandings of tan as interesting as the question of whether or not a nail is a tool. Crosswords should be used to teach Applied Epistemology, IMHO.

Anonymous 3:59 PM  

I'm guessing the more ridiculous the slam...against this great puzzle, for instance, and the more outrageous the claim...Gin not British?-- the more of us write responses...hence more traffic/engagement with the blog. I think actual criticism has flown out the window and has been replaced with pap to fuel the analytics. Plus slams are easier to write, anyway.

AliasZ 4:08 PM  

The UP BOW symbol is similar to a V, however the angle is more acute than in the average capital V.

The down bow symbol is similar to the Greek П but it is a little wider, and the horizontal line is thicker than the two uprights.

I trust I will not be TSKED for sharing this irrelevant information, but I thought inquiring minds needed to know.

I'll go now and have another stein of MEAD.

sanfranman59 4:51 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Wed 8:12, 10:14, 0.80, 8%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:28, 6:14, 0.88, 16%, Easy

RnRGhost57 4:53 PM  

@Andrew Morrison said,"I often note that Rex rants most about cultural or historical knowledge to which he is not privy."
That indeed seems to be true, and in this case--gin has nothing to do with England; hell, even the POP and dinner comment--I'm actually kind of embarrassed for him.

Joseph Welling 5:02 PM  

While my tea is certainly not what I'd call "tan", it's chock full of tannins, so the answer came quickly by association (if not by accurate cluing) for me.

I liked this puzzle. I found it relatively easy (for a Wednesday).

jae 5:50 PM  

@mac -- Here's background on the Dutch and GIN.

The Dutch physician Franciscus Sylvius is often credited with the invention of gin in the mid 17th century,[5][6] although the existence of genever is confirmed in Massinger's play The Duke of Milan (1623), when Dr. Sylvius would have been but nine years of age. It is further claimed that British soldiers who provided support in Antwerp against the Spanish in 1585, during the Eighty Years' War, were already drinking genever for its calming effects before battle, from which the term Dutch Courage is believed to have originated.[7] The earliest known written reference to genever appears in the 13th century encyclopaedic work Der Naturen Bloeme (Bruges), and the earliest printed genever recipe from 16th century work Een Constelijck Distileerboec (Antwerp).[8]
By the mid 17th century, numerous small Dutch and Flemish distillers (some 400 in Amsterdam alone by 1663) had popularized the re-distillation of malt spirit or malt wine with juniper, anise, caraway, coriander, etc.,[9] which were sold in pharmacies and used to treat such medical problems as kidney ailments, lumbago, stomach ailments, gallstones, and gout. Gin emerged in England in varying forms as of the early 17th century, and at the time of the Restoration, enjoyed a brief resurgence. When William of Orange, ruler of the Dutch Republic, occupied the British throne with his wife Mary in what has become known as the Glorious Revolution, gin became vastly more popular,[10] particularly in crude, inferior forms, where it was more likely to be flavoured with turpentine[11] as an alternative to juniper.

sanfranman59 10:02 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 5:58, 6:18, 0.95, 22%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:35, 8:16, 0.92, 21%, Easy-Medium
Wed 8:14, 10:14, 0.80, 8%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:54, 4:00, 0.98, 32%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:55, 5:11, 0.95, 29%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:15, 6:14, 0.84, 9%, Easy

DeeJay 9:17 AM  

Numinous, I looove "For goodness ____," as it is completely non-beverage-related!

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

this is THE easiest puzzle from NYT I have ever done. less than 5 minutes not even trying

spacecraft 11:55 AM  

Seldom has my experience--and opinion--been so closely congruent with that of OFL. In fact, I wasn't entirely sure I had the NE corner right till checking here (I did). I think Jeff associated GIN with England via James Bond. As for me, all I know about the stuff comes from "The Sting:"

"Always use gin with a mark, kid. They can't tell you cut it."

I'm with @Anoa Bob: just gimme a beer. Not sure that DRINKSALLAROUND specifies the offer to buy; it's a close cousin of the old joke--"When I drink, everybody drinks!" And upon being presented with the bill, "When I pay, everybody pays!"

Couple of awkward partials here; ASAN is the ugliest. Overused crutches IBAR and ESAU further tarnish the "tan" star, and super E-concentrates EPEE and EENIE don't help either. Still, on balance, passable.


We must be using wild cards: five 6's!

Red Valerian 11:59 AM  

It was fun; comments were funner.

The loonie came first, and is so-called because there is a loon on it (the bird, not Harper). The toonie came later, and there was much discussion as to what to call it. I really thought "dubloonie" was brilliant and should have won out. But I guess that extra syllable...

DMG 2:03 PM  

Filled in MILK at 1A and then just walked through this one. Only pause was spelling RISOTTO with two S's instead of two T's, but that easily fixed itself. Easy puzzles like this always leave me waiting for the other shoe to drop, the later week doozie where I sometimes fail to even get a toe-hold. So, fingers crossed, I await tomorrow's offering.

A bow to @Spacecraft's cards. I have a couple of lousy pairs, tho I could elevate it to four 3’s if the rules allow factoring in the accompanying address???

Dirigonzo 2:34 PM  

After I finished the puzzle with only a single letter write-over (CaVE to COVE) I spent a few minutes examining the grid in search of things I might complain about if I were so inclined, and I came up empty handed.

A local distillery uses Maine potatoes to make a premium (i.e. "high-priced") vodka, some of which they turn into gin with the addition of botanicals (non of which makes gin any less quintessentially English).

My capcha has 8 digits plus two more in the address photo and the best hand I can get is two stinkin' pairs?

rain forest 3:00 PM  

Nice puzzle. Easy puzzle. Clever theme, great revealer. Nice longer answers (several). Amazing how the conversation can revolve around the various interpretations of "tan".

"The cluing is a disaster"-@Rex. How? GIN is as English as tan TEA, or QEII. Words fail me.

The puzzle works on all levels, except on the level of difficulty, but that doesn't bother me.

Waxy in Montreal 7:00 PM  

Gin and Tonic (G&T) is certainly the English drink of choice, at least among people of a certain age. Just learnt of a recent medical emergency involving a 94 year old aunt of mine there - once things were resolved at the local hospital and she returned to the seniors' residence where she lives, the first thing she did was to down a G&T. Her daughter seriously believes a small daily dose of gin is actually contributing to her Mom's longevity. Who's to argue?

IMHO, Toonies and twonies are interchangeable. Wondering just what to call the $5 coin when it appears in the near future.

strayling 7:24 PM  

Smooth as silk. An amusing theme, well executed.

strayling 7:44 PM  

Hm. Just read Rex's comments about gin, and I beg to differ. Speaking as an Englishman I know that gin is widely regarded as the English spirit, just as much as Vodka is Russia's.

Dirigonzo 8:20 PM  

@waxy - cinqoonie? (It would have instant xword cred due to the u-less q.)

Solving in Seattle 9:14 PM  

Jeff Chen, this wedpuz is out of the ballpark clever. Loved the theme. I don't drink VODKA, MEAD or CIDER. Very little POP (maybe a Coke or Pepsi per year), but I make up for it in the WINE department - mainly Washington and Chilean reds and New Zealand sav blancs. As for GIN, give me a Beefeater martini up with extra olives.
Looks like I'm buying @Spacy a drink - I only have a full house.

Solving in Seattle 9:17 PM  

BTW, nice to see all our TOOONIE spending AMIGOS showing up today; hi to Red V, Rainy, Waxy,

Waxy in Montreal 11:37 PM  

@Diri, lovin' your newly-minted cinqoonie. Could even double as a drink - a Tanqueray Cinqcoonie sounds like a great nightcap.

Jessica 6:11 AM  

Your article was really nice but somehow I'm still lost xD

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