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To the shock of absolutely no one who knows anything about my drinking proclivities, the second Alexander of Alexander Week is the Bourbon Alexander.

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Because they’re most perfect for winter (hello, 27 degrees this morning!), because they’re freaking delicious and because I had a Groupon for some Ciao Bella burning a hole in my pocket — it’s Alexander Week over here at the Five O’Clock Cocktail Blog!

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Sometimes a cocktail is so obvious it writes itself. Sometimes a cocktail is so so-obvious that lots of different people come up with it — consensus I interpret to mean that the drink’s simply meant to be. Such is the breezily elegant French Gimlet.

Sean and I had our turn inventing this drink two summers ago. He’d brought the St. Germain liqueur home from work as a freebie. I’m still not sure why we had gin lying around (this was before we’d spent hundreds stocking the at-home bar to near-pro proportions). Probably we had limes on hand just because it was summer, and possibly because when Mama gets a little pickled, Mama likes a bourbon and cola sloshing around in her free hand, always garnished with a lime wedge.

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January can put me in a certain mood, a dicey mix of contemplative and bored (for which booze is probably never a good chaser, but anyway). Since nothing happens in January, my mind’s left to dwell on December’s heedless indulgences and… well, let me start from the beginning.

When I originally made this cocktail for a friend’s holiday party two years ago, it was the first time I’d written a recipe entirely in my head. In fact, I don’t think I’d even tasted Absolut Kurant before I thought to put it in this drink. A chef I interviewed years prior told me he subscribed to a “that sounds great” philosophy of dish-inventing, that if your tongue relishes articulating “coriander encrusted mahi mahi” or “sweet potato fries dipped in banana-guava ketchup” then it’ll probably enjoy eating those things, too. So, having just moved back to New York and with no money to spare on cocktail experimentin’, my party drink came together hypothetically. I wanted it to taste like ice skating on a frozen pond. I pictured Charlie Brown’s friends catching snowflakes on their tongues. (“It’s fun!”)

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Our season’s-greetings cards just went out on Monday. There’s a gift I ordered online three weeks ago that’s apparently stuck in a storing-stuck-things facility somewhere. The tree’s still up in our living room (although I did manage to de-ornament it over the weekend).

However, I refuse to be late making my favorite Christmastime tipple, The Twelfth Day of Christmas, a whiskey infusion that takes (whaddaya know?) 12 days to make — but unlike the rest of all the holiday meshugas, it’s time that does most of the work.

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Guest post by Sean Lorre, the Blogtender’s Husband

I love liquor. I do. I love the bite and the burn of a good, strong drink. Hell, I would down straight, over-proof bourbon with a dash of bitters regularly if it didn’t lead me to lose my car keys while playing disc golf* at 3 a.m. or puke in a dive bar sink on a second date. (Rose, should I not say “puke” on a blog about delicious cocktails?) [You should not tell the world that you puked on our second date, is what you really should not do. -- Ed.]

I suppose the more refined way to refer to my cocktail proclivities is “spirit-forward,” but since the watchword for 2011 around here is honesty I’ll stick with how I really feel; I love booze. I’ve always loved a good Manhattan, but the first Martinez I ever had (Flatiron Lounge, May 2005) introduced me to the world of historical mixology and I never looked back.  When a friend introduced me to this all-liquor variation on a classic Sidecar (Italian translation: Carrozzino) I was both intrigued and a bit wary. It turned out to be pretty damn good and so I share it with you today.

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Reader(s), I’m going to try to be more honest in 2011. I’m going to try to be more diligent, too, particularly as it pertains to this blog, while simultaneously somehow figuring out a way to weigh less while drinking as many cocktails as ever.

My stated intent of The Five O’Clock Cocktail Blog is to publish a recipe each weekday, whether an original creation, a tweak of a classic drink or an homage to a drink I’ve drank elsewhere (probably at this bar, knowing me). This has already proven arduous and I might still scale back to twice or thrice weekly. (Thoughts? Please tell me in the comments what you’d like to see!) The part of my brain responsible for wild-footed fantasy stubbornly maintains that The New York Times’ Dining section is more likely to profile me if I stick to the five-a-week conceit. (My blog-to-blockbuster deal with Nora Ephron will surely materialize soon after.)

So, regarding that honesty promise, here goes: I like this Cosmopolitan.

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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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