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Last week I blogged about how some cocktails are borne out of late-night necessity. This week my cousin Mark created a cocktail from just such conditions, although he did it way better than any of my own attempts.

This cocktail’s got it all. It’s full-flavored but light-bodied. It’s not sugary; it’s just sweet enough, truly suitable either before or after dinner. It’s well-rounded — no too-sharp, vodka-cran tang. It begins with antioxidant-riddled pomegranate seeds, so you can easily rationalize why you should have another. (Because antioxidants cancel out alcohol, duh.) And with the holidays upon us, I picture it as something that would equally please a sherry-sipping grandma, your 22-year-old cousin who’s never downed anything stronger than a Woo Woo and cocktail snobs such as ourselves who will be impressed by the double dose of bitters.

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We made coffee espresso-infused* vodka this week. It was totes easy! We just took a cup of fresh, dark-roast beans and gently cracked them open by applying pressure with the bottom of a measuring cup. (See photo.) Then we dumped ‘em into a fifth of vodka (something middle-shelf; I think we used Stoli or Ketel) and stored it in a cool, dry place for a few days. Voila!

We’ve suffered through fiasco infusions before. (Would you like to taste the most terrible homemade peach-flavored vodka ever? No, you would not.) This one’s practically foolproof because, unlike a delicate peach, the robustness of the beans lets you know by smell whether or not your infusion’s balanced, needs more time, etc. We knew we had something good after about a week, when the espresso aroma actually eclipsed the alcohol-y smell of the vodka. Next, of course, came the question of what cocktail to invent with it…

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Guest Post by Sean Lorre

Besides the obvious excitements and disappointments associated with what Santa would or wouldn’t leave me under the tree, my favorite thing about Christmas as a kid was the wonderful smells of the holiday. The scent of the tree, the aroma of Christmas cookies in the oven, sugar and spice and… well, you get the picture.


As part of the annual holiday festivities, my family gathered at my grandpa  Marlowe’s house for Christmas brunch. Sure, there was merriment, gift giving, good cheer and something about the baby Jesus, I think, but, like all Marlovian holidays, Christmas was mainly about two things: eating and drinking. An entire room of my grandfather’s spacious Victorian house was dedicated to the foods and potables of the season.  Featured in this den of holiday delights was Glögg, a steaming, sometimes flaming –Glögg is traditionally served en flambé—ruby red elixir made of red wine, high-proof spirits, citrus and spices, whose scent for me was the very embodiment of Christmas.

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A few times you hang out at a friend’s house past midnight and you get nominated to go into the kitchen and figure out how to whip up a round of cocktails from emptied liquor bottles, backwash, tap water, stale coffee, triple sec and flat soda. Somehow you put together something palatable, and soon you gain a rep as always being able to “make something out of nothing,” which is an AA term that means “will drink vanilla extract.”

Other times you start to get that cat-scratch-fever feeling in the back of your throat, and you know you’ve got a cold coming on, but you’ve also got a blog post due. That’s a good time to remember that wack highball you once assembled — a potion so ass-backwardsly diluted, it’s not nice to the word made to say you actually made it. A drinkable entity that kinda tastes like Creamsicle, or those gritty, Technicolor pastes the dentist used to give you a teeth cleaning when you were little. Which is apt, because in times like these what you want is a cocktail that tastes like medicine and childhood and 100% of your Vitamin C RDA and a nap and ice-cold, back-of-the-throat numbness and hazy alcoholica all at once.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the Ghetto Fabulous.

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Try this at home!

When this blog was still but an emptyish Google docs folder, my webmaster/husband, at one point needing to throw some dummy text into WordPress, cut and pasted a few grafs from a paper he’d presented at McGill University in March. He studies musicology, so next to a photo of the Autumn in New York, it read:

“The modern conception of the blues has come to be associated with two essential elements; a strict formal construction of twelve bars in common time divided into three four-bar phrases, and a cyclical repetition of that construct featuring melodic, textural and timbral variation. Blah, blah, blah.” [Ed. note: “Blah, blah, blah” mine.]

We joked about how awesomely trippy it’d be to just make the blog nothing but photos of cocktails juxtaposed with chunks of musicological academia, and leave it up to the reader (of which there’d surely be even fewer than there are now; bless you (plural?) all!) to divine what the hell it all meant. There is one drink, however, which would’ve let the two appropriately coalesce: the Robert Johnson Swizzle, a cocktail invented at my own, personal Valhalla, Death & Co., and named after the father* of the Delta blues.

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Ah, Fridays at five. If ever a quittin’ time cried out for a cocktail of its very own, you are said time. Regrettably, once another endless week wends its way to you, rarely am I of sober-enough mind to do you justice.

Yours should be the crowning achievement of my five days’ labor — I, Charlotte! My magnum opus, thee! Alas, by the time your sweet siren of surrender sounds… yeah, see, I haven’t even got enough of the witty wordplay left in me to finish my lede, let alone actually, like, name you.

So here’s how we’ll roll on Fridays. I’ll offer up one of my cocktail creations as per yoozh, but as far as what to call it — as Otis once sang, I’m depending on you, dear blog followers. (Some of you aren’t my relatives, right?) In other words, I’d like you to name that drink. Title that tipple! Christen that cocktail! Whatever the opposite of Alcohols Anonymous would be! (Again, bad wordplay.)

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Contrary to 100% of this blog’s content heretofore, there are plenty of things I’m up for discussing besides weddings. For example, Calvados, which I was lucky enough to try for the first time on its home turf about 13 years ago at an inn in Normandy. I remember a dining room resplendent with golden amber tones, although that may have just been the view down my nose into the bottom of my snifter. In fact, considering I can’t remember much else about that night, let’s go with that.

So anyway, back to weddings. One of my most favorite things to do, as perhaps you’ve already gleaned, is write a cocktail recipe. I love it so much that I’ll even craft a cocktail I have little interest in drinking. Last fall, my friend Harley asked me to write an appletini recipe for her brother’s nuptials. (Google docs is suggesting I correct “appletini.” First choice: Appleton. I hear ya, Google docs.) Read the rest of this entry »

The Martelorre distills five years of my life down to four ingredients. It’s cocktail as allegory, you might say; if I could save time in a highball. And then combine with ice and stir.

Bourbon, paterfamilias of the Martelorre’s alchemy, became a friend to me in 2005 — not coincidentally the year I began bartending. Compared to all the foolish mixed drinks I’d ordered in my youth, bourbon tasted like maturity’s reward. Adult fun, I used to call it. It spoke to parts of me I hadn’t yet gotten to know — a spirit that seemed to be a part of mine.

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