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Guest post by the very British Nick Leftley, senior editor at Maxim and a mate made for drinking with

A few months ago, I was out on a tequila-tasting night courtesy of the charming and spectacularly agave-obsessed folks at Don Julio. After tasting every variety of tequila they make (and at this point, I’d personally recommend the Don Julio 1942, an Anejo tequila that’s creamy, peppery and as good for sipping as most decent Scotches), master distiller Enrique de Colsa introduced us to the concept of the Luxury Drop.

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Guest Post by Alex W. Rodriguez,  jazz guy, friend of the blog, and future UCLA Ph.D. Ethnomusicology candidate. For Alex’s thoughts on jazz check out his blog Lubricity, WBGO radio, or the Newark Star Ledger.


After my grandfather passed away, my dad and his sisters began to take inventory of the stuff that he had kept in their childhood home in Central Oregon—books, knickknacks, and all paraphernalia that accumulates in a lifetime. The most fascinating material came from his collection of books, and perhaps the strangest gem of all is Old Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide.

Published in 1935, in the wake of prohibition’s repeal, it reads like a hastily-thrown-together mishmash of recipes to promote Old Mr. Boston alcohol products. But I have never come across anything that has immediately evoked the spirit of the 1930s (pun most definitely intended) than this little brown book. Take this formal introduction to Old Mr B. himself:

Sirs, –May we now present to you Old Mr. Boston in permanent form. We know you are going to like him. He is a jolly fellow, one of those rare individuals, everlastingly young, a distinct personality and famous throughout the land for his sterling qualities and genuine good fellowship. His friends number in the millions those who are great and those who are near great even as you and I. He is jovial and ever ready to accept the difficult role of “Life of the Party,” a sympathetic friend who may be relied upon in any emergency. Follow his advice and there will be many pleasant times in store for you. Gentlemen, Old Mr. Boston!

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Many Royale customers, I’m sure, assume that the Mr. Smith cocktail is named after Royale proprietor Steven Smith — or at least his father, who’s also a part owner of the business and, truth be told, whose first name I can’t remember because “Mr. Smith” was all I ever called him.

But none of that has anything to do with the Mr. Smith. The Mr. Smith is named after Jeff Smith, who might also be addressed as The Former Honorable Jeff Smith, Ph.D. Jeff was the subject of a documentary, Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?, about the time he popped his campaign cherry running for the congressional seat vacated by veteran Rep. Dick Gephardt, and how he narrowly lost the Democratic primary to Russ Carnahan, son of a famous Missouri politician, and how he was a short, Jewish, basketball-loving UNC grad.

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Guest post by Sean Lorre, PhoBlograpHusband

Well-documented cocktail lore has it that the Tom Collins began as a sort of name-game hoax circa 1874. People would prank their friends by telling them that a Tom Collins had been speaking ill of them in a bar just down the road. When the slandered walked into said bar demanding Tom Collins, they’d be told that he just departed for another nearby watering hole, and so on. (It’s oddly comforting that people still found stupid ways to waste their time before television.) Eventually, enterprising bartenders got in on the joke, and a crisp refreshment was born.

Poorly documented family lore (on my Mom’s side; Lorre lore has been quite meticulously researched) has it that “That Girl” actress Marlo Thomas was so named thanks to a chance encounter over a few cigarettes between her father, entertainer Danny Thomas, and my maternal grandfather, Thomas Marlowe, outside a jazz club in Newark, New Jersey, sometime in the late 1930s.

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For as much as I love booze, there is one virgin elixir I just might adore even more than all the liquor in the world, and that is a chocolate egg cream.

Oh, how I could rhapsodize about an egg cream, its gloriously proportioned trifecta of chocolate syrup, milk and seltzer (neither eggs nor cream). When you’re this crazy about egg creams, you know that they must be made with Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup if they’re worth a damn, and you purchase specially marked pint glasses from Junior’s in Brooklyn that indicate how much of each ingredient to use, and you hunt online for genuine, old-fashioned seltzer bottles (which must be refilled regularly with carbon-dioxide cartridges, at no small expense), because you can’t get a good, fizzy head on a homemade egg cream with seltzer from a silly twist-cap bottle.

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Guest post by Mark Holcomb, the Blogtender’s cousin-in-law/former professional bartender/lead singer of The Sharpe James

I was raised by hippies… they were probably considered ex-hippies by the time the ’80s rolled around, but they were hippies nonetheless. My mother (who is a saint of a woman!) is the type of lady the who used to tote me around as an infant in one of those baby backpack-papoose contraptions, and who shed a tear or two when Jerry Garcia died. As for my father, well, he looks like Willie Nelson. Love him as I do there is no denying his hippydom. Unless you’re him, that is; he vehemently refutes this label for the sole reason that “hippies are too peaceful.” However, he is the same bass-playing, ponytail-rocking, bandana-wearing, beard-having, hitch-hiking Okie who once thought a good name for his firstborn son (that’s me) would be Thud Blues Holcomb. I only thank the sweet  Lord Jesus that my momma had enough sense to name me after my grandfathers instead.

aahhh, Red #40...

As you might imagine, having been brought up in this type of environment, my brothers and I were, to put it nicely, free-spirited individualists at a very early age. To paint a clearer picture of what that means exactly, I will say without a doubt that the term “driving me to drink” was coined for rugrats such as ourselves. While our wild behavior may have spawned many great discoveries, by far the grandest of them all is when my dear ol’ dad stumbled across what in my mind is a testament to the spirit of American ingenuity, and parental decorum.

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Sometimes I get sooo sick of myself. Me and my “ooh, me likey bourbon cocktails, egg white, Licor 43, bourbon meow meow.” (You have to imagine Miss Piggy saying it to get the full effect.)

A good remedy for a cocktail rut is How’s Your Drink? Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well, by Eric Felten, an impresario equal parts food/drink/culture critic and jazz trombonist/crooner/bandleader. The book is a sort of loosely chaptered collection of drinking vignettes throughout history, with recipes here and there. It’s a great read to keep on the shelf and just flip through. Today, I flipped to the Clipper Cocktail.

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I had no idea how I was going to wrap up Alexander Week. Any sort of liqueur-based Alexander seemed too obvious/easy, the thought of a Rum Alexander held no appeal (maybe if I used a sorbet instead of an ice cream/gelato? But still, meh) and a Vodka Alexander — well, I’d actually made one of those a few weeks ago, using an unflavored vodka and the exact-same recipe as I did for the gin Alexander (with the white creme de cacao and the mint chip gelato). It tasted OK, not at all bad, but from a mixology standpoint I was uninspired by it.

Then I remembered the espresso-infused vodka we’d made a while back, and then I thought about affogato.

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Upholding my week-long commitment to exploring the far reaches of Alexandria, today I find myself a bit of a stranger in a strange land — that land being Tequilaville.

I have never cottoned to tequila, and I’ve never felt like I’ve missed out on much as a consequence, except perhaps further burdening my trove of already-embarrassing-enough drunken tales/tally of inexplicable scars (two; one just south of my lower lip, the other craggy across the top of one foot). If bourbon tastes like adult fun, then tequila tastes like legal troubles. It’s antagonistic-tasting. It’s too in-my-face, and even when I’m doing nothing more innocent than enjoying a margarita, I often believe that tequila’s devilish essence is asseverating itself from beneath its blanket of lime, sugar and salt, rather than just commingling nicey-nice in the glass like a base liquor is supposed to.

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Guest post by Sean Lorre, the Blogtender’s husband

Now that we’re three drinks in to Alexander Week, let’s walk it back to the beginning. As I seem to be taking up the mantle of historical cocktail dork expert at the blog, I will be leading the tour.

Did you know that, while the Brandy Alexander is the only Alexander that really remains in the everyday-drinking lexicon, the original Alexander was made with gin?

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