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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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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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Wedding season’s sprung up early this year here at the blog. Last week, besides my trucking down to NJ to attend Cousin Mark‘s fiancee’s shower, one of you e’d me desperate for help with a groom’s cocktail to serve at his upcoming nuptials. Why desperate? Because of when upcoming: This very gracious gentleman, Jon, e’d me on a Wednesday needing a recipe for the reception on Saturday. Ladeeeeez, dudes and wedding planning OMG AMIRITE??!?

Obligatory awwwWWW! pic of Mark and his fiancee, Molly!

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Just as I often cannot keep it in my pants for Eric Felten, the PhoBlograpHusband‘s got it bad for Old Mr. Boston, the circa-1935 Official Bartenders Guide we received from a friend. It’s quite the thorough, reliably voiced tome, considering it doubles as a hardcover, portable advertisement for Old Mr. Boston’s erstwhile products, such as Old Mr. Boston Blended Whiskey and Connoisseur Creme de Cacao. (There’s even a glossy-paged centerfold replete with handsome liquor ads. Oh 1935, how naughty wast thou!)

Anyway, Sean was thumbing through the thing the other day and happened upon the Perfect Cocktail and asked if he should whip it out up for the blog. I figured, yes, of course, why not, as we can talk about the concept of “perfect” in cocktail-making, that it’s not just a boast but that it actually means something, namely the addition of dry and sweet vermouths to a drink in equal measure.

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I can feel another Eric Felten rager coming on — my curious condition wherein I just want to make cocktails from his book, How’s Your Drink? — and as this one coincides with the advent of the new season of Mad Men, I give you the Vieux Carre.

First, please allow me to quote liberally from Felten’s prose regarding the Vieux Carre’s New Orleans origins (New Orligins?):

“Then there’s the Hotel Monteleone‘s Carousel Bar, where the circular bar revolves slowly under a whimsical carnival canopy of carved wood, mirrors, and bare bulbs. The barstools don’t go up and down, thankfully, but the experience can still be a little disorienting; get caught up in a conversation, and the next thing you know, you’re on the other side of the room. Ask bartender Marvin Allen to mix you up a Vieux Carre, a terrific drink invented by the Carousel’s barman in the 1930s, and unknown to most mixologists outside of the Hotel Monteleone.”

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The story of this cocktail (highball, technically) begins at Montreal’s Macaroni Bar, where the PhoBlograpHusband and I have parked our kiesters atop bar stools recently (although mine barely fits nowadays) because that’s now where Tao and Tony work. They’re pretty much given free rein behind the bar there, creatively speaking, so long as they also keep up with customer demand for vodka sodas and pitchers of sangria.

Speaking of pitcher drinks, the last time we were there, Tony told us about some summertime refreshers he’s been tinkering with, including a fresh lemonade made with a rosemary-infused simple syrup. He let us try some, and upon first sip, I was awash in an aura of complete summertime relaxation spiked with my ever-bubbling-near-the-surface total jealousy. How had I never thought of rosemary lemonade myself?

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Do you ever wonder how so many cocktails are invented and everyone keeps them all straight — or doesn’t? Like how you can consult one Very Trustworthy Published Source and get Recipe A for a cocktail of some historical note, and then you reference Another Such Source and Recipe B is variegated enough that you’re like, huh? Because if roads and bridges, whatever the recipe is for making them is, if those had been so casually bandied about we’d all be geographically stranded at best and dead from falling asphalt at worst.

Sometimes I think about those things. I thought about them recently while we were mixing Honeymoons. Doing so was actually the PhoBlograpHusband‘s idea, since we recently acquired our first-ever bottle of Applejack. We got Laird’s, natch, because JERZEEEEE! (Like Laird’s, Sean and I are from New Jersey.)

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Are Bloody Caesars a thing where you live? As in, a Bloody Mary that swaps in Clamato for toe-mah-toe juice? They seem to be a thing in Montreal — or all of Canada – and I had my first (virgin) one last weekend at Cafe Sardine (to celebrate my Saveur best-blog nom; vote, won’t you?). Let me rhapsodize on this place for a sec before I continue:

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