Well, it took me longer than yesterday's puzzle, but only because I had to hunt for the error that I made in my haste - "CaVE" for COVE (9D: Pirate hide-out, often). I never even saw UPBOW (14A: What a "V" signals to a violinist). (It wasn't "arco!")
But that's neither here nor there. I enjoyed the puzzle and its theme of liquid refreshment! Throw in a bonus 15-letter revealer - DRINKSALLAROUND (38A: "I'm buying!," at a bar ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme) - and you've got a mighty fine Wednesday.
The sevens, eights and nines were all pretty good, I thought. EAGLEEYE (41A: Good-looking person?) (nice clue, and yes, the question mark was valid there), PLOTLINES (54A: Story threads), RISOTTO (44A: Alternative to pasta)... all fine. When you get into the shorter stuff you start to see EPEE, ESAU, ELEC, and some others, but nothing too terrible.
Am I being too lenient on early-week puzzles? Should I be moaning about every last bit of stale crosswordese, like other crossword bloggers? Or should I find some joy in a fun, well-executed theme? I say the latter.
But tomorrow starts "the turn," as I like to call it (Thursday, Friday, Saturday), when the puzzles should get both harder and cleaner. At least that's how I see it.