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Damn you, St. Louis! Damn your exploding cocktail scene, three-and-a-half years after I move away. Damn you and your 150-libations-long cocktail menus and your Tales of the Cocktail award noms, your Ted Kilgores, your envy-inducing, membership-only cocktail boites that just happen to be housed in the most awesomest speakeasy-style restaurant space EVER.

And damn the recent cover story in Alive Magazine (a local lifestyle rag for chicks with meticulously maintained blonde highlights that I make fun of a lot in my head, but still) listing the top 20 cocktails in the city, which just so happened to be the current issue  when I swung through town a few weeks ago, reeling as I customarily do from the timewarp-mindfuck that comes from revisiting my once-hometown, coupled with the fact that I’m still pregnant and can’t shouldn’t really no damnit can’t drink anyway. You are killing me Saint Louis.

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The second time I lived in Manhattan, which was for about 30 months, I had an annual ritual (you do the math) of meeting up with m’gays at the Knickerbocker Bar & Grill in the West Village and drinking a big, fat, dirty vodka martini. This ritual was perfect for a number of reasons — for two, the Knickerbocker is a bona fide throwback of a joint, its prices equally retro — but I guess the main one was that this was the only time I would ever allow/fancy myself a dirty vodka martini; it had to be with these friends, sitting at this bar, where the bartender, whomever it was on a particular evening, would always serve the cocktails oversized, even saving the little extra in the bottom of the shaker to top off my glass after I’d taken a few sips.

Now, one could argue that there’s a lot that’s less than perfect about this scenario. All-booze cocktails ought to be stirred, not shaken, lest you “bruise” the liquors (I believe purists are particularly strident in their anti-bruised-booze stance when it comes to gin); you’re not supposed to want any diluted-down “extra” besmirching your drink; martinis are passe and dirty-anything is an abomination on par with Red Bull or drinks that approximate birthday cake.

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“Suggestions for ouzo?… I don’t love it, and online drink searches reveal Coke, coffee liqueur, Jagermeister (OMG), neon blue additions (I hate), and lemonade as flavor pairings.” — Blog commenter clstal, 02 May 2012

Thanks for asking, clstal! And double thanks for your awesome (even if unintentional) reference to one of my favorite Patton Oswalt bits.

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Guest post by Sean Lorre, PhoBlograpHusband.

Hello Readers! It’s been quite a while since I last guest posted. As a matter of fact exactly four months, or in other words one semester of grad school. To my dismay, my writing and research of late has more to do with the Blues Brothers, Randy Weston and Fred Astaire than bars and cocktails. OK, it’s not such a bad gig, but I did miss the rigorous mixological testing required to write a post!

Today I bring you the Blackbeard, a cocktail I’ve only found in one bar, once, more than fifteen years ago. Picture it if you will: My 21-year-old self, along with a certain friend I will only identify by his initials (TMO) are whiling the Spring 1997 semester away in London as part of the Syracuse University International Live Abroad and Pretend to Study Program. Spring break comes and we’re off to Edinburgh, Scotland to meet up with my friend Andy, a true Scotsman — gregarious, burly (former national U-19 rugby player), and generous to a fault — who I met while working as a camp counselor the year before.

After a long evening of carousing and paradin’ about the city, Andy suggests that we drive out to his hometown of Musselburgh for a nightcap at his local pub. TMO and I have never passed up a free drink in our lives, so we consent to the 10km trek in search of the perfect end to the evening. And found it we did! It was on this night that I was introduced to the Blackbeard, perhaps the most perfect last drink I’ve ever had.

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This is gonna be one of those babbling brook o’consciousness posts I write from time to time, lending special credence to the word “babbling.”

Sean and I made this cocktail a couple weeks ago — before my Moms swooped into town for a week-long six-day (she’ll correct me in an e-mail if I don’t do it now) stay. Why don’t I cocktail *more* when hosting family? God knows I need it badly-er during such times. Oh, right. I’m up the spout. Good thing that I don’t forget that too often.

Anyway, my home office is also our guest room, so when we’ve got folks staying here I basically don’t write, don’t work, don’t check e-mails, and generally grow more and more discomboobulated and unmoored from real life. Which is probably why I sound the way I sound right now. Me no typie so good when brain cloudy with word farts what is thesaurus?

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I need to make an Ur-Cocktail. Like, I want to just mix a liquor (bourbon, a-doy, although I’d then be game for trying several others) with sugar, water and bitters — the original notion of what constitutes a “cock-tail” — and see what it tastes like. I kind of assume it’s gonna taste awful, or at least undesirable, right? Because, for one, when have I ever employed water as an ingredient, and for two, what kind of cocktail enthusiast thinks it a swell idea to include a diluting agent as a key part of a recipe? Water’s what you drink at the bottom of your near-emptied highball while you’re waiting for the barkeep to make you a fresh one.

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