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The ex-boyfriend of an ex-friend of mine, a guy who last I heard is now an ex-actor, played the cunnilinguistic Mr. Pussy on an episode of Sex and the City. His audition for the part, I remember hearing at the time, entailed eating (out?) a fig with oral, in flagrante delicto brio.

But that’s neither here or there. I actually want to talk about figs today because, as I’m hoping at least a few of you noticed over the weekend, I posted on this blog’s Facebook page that I was playing with a recipe I’d found at The Kitchn for a Fig Old-Fashioned.  It caught my attention because I happen to have some figs on hand in a very-delicious-and-not-at-all-derelict way. Back in August my friend Jackie visited us and, upon spotting figs at the Jean-Talon Market, declared herself a huge fan and promptly purchased some. Most of them wound up becoming the property of The Five O’Clock Cocktail Blog (certain restrictions apply), and the PhoBlograpHusband, as he is wont to do, immediately set about brandying them.

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I’ve been trying to recall a good example of how much of a goody-two-shoes I was during my grade-school days. Kids called me “the A girl,” in second grade I wrote a short story about a botanist, and once during a 7th-grade-wide trivia competition, I avoided elimination by successfully (and accurately, ahem) convincing the MC (my math teacher, I believe) that a peanut is, in fact, a legume. Take that, coolness!

Try as I might, though, I can’t think of anything nerdy enough to compare to the eight-page dossier presented by my friend and Le LAB bartender Gabrielle to the panel of judges at Montreal Bar vs. Chef, her completely unrequired, written dissertation for the cocktail that, as it turned out, took first place. (Eight pages = first place. Must remember that for next time.)

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Did you know you can make a Manhattan* with aged rum instead of bourbon? Because you totally can and it’s really pretty good!

I happened upon this discovery of sorts while toying with recipes for that Montreal Bar vs. Chef competition I clearly can’t stop talking about. My original idea was to do a flip, but after many, many attempts to make even a halfway-decent one, it was clear that what I had on my hands was actually a flop. (Rim shot!)

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When Tao — short for Taoufike Zrafi, bartender extraordinaire at Piano Rouge in Old Montreal — came out from behind the bar after his turn up at bat competing in Montreal Bar vs Chef, I beelined over to him, pat him on the back and bellowed, “Looks like someone really wants to go to Jamaica!” (Because the top prize at our little Appleton-sponsored cocktail competition was a trip to, um, Jamaica.)

What Tao invented (“concocted” is too culinarily namby-pamby a word) sent my lower jaw slamming into the floorboards. When you’re at home futzing around with your shaker and your bottles, do you ever play-act mad-scientist-going-MWAH-HA-HA fantasies in your head? Tao’s Smoking Kingston is actually that.

As if that is not enough, Tao’s presentation included a laminated copy of this flow chart (Tao calls it a “polygramme”; adorbs!):

And now, since you are absolutely as confused/titillated/stunned/feeling stupid as I originally was, I’ll let Tao explain (in cutely  imperfect English) what’s up.

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I am writing to you from on a cocktail high. It’s almost noon yet I’m still riding my 3 a.m. buzz. Last night, I competed alongside 11 of the city’s best bartenders in the first-ever Montreal Bar vs. Chef competition. It was like PROM FOR COCKTAIL NERDS!!!

The contest was held at Le LAB, my maison away from maison here in Montreal. (The first night Sean and I went there, I got just pickled enough that I started blabbing about my cocktail blog, and next thing I know the LAB staff and the PhoBlograpHusband had conspired against me to sign me up for the contest, despite my being neither a French-fluent nor an actually-employed bartender.) It was sponsored by Appleton Estate and consisted of three parts:

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The moral of this week is: Take things literally. Yesterday I blogged about my Breakfast of Champions, an original cocktail o’mine that bears more than a passing resemblance to a Moon Over My Hammy at Denny’s – and yes, it’s a little embarrassing for a high-functioning alcoholic mature mixologist to admit to such levels of kitsch. Today’s recipe, while not quite so blatant, was likewise created via an over-the-top approach.

The basic premise was to construct a swizzle using the sweetest ingredients we (Sean and I) could think of, but somehow manipulate them into a drink that tasted better than, say, a shot of insulin with a Blow Pop chaser. Our secondary goal was to make a juice-less swizzle — which, according to rather strict definitions I’ve found and mentioned here before, means it technically wouldn’t be a swizzle, but whatevs — as our at-home citrus stock was low.

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This is the story of how a post-theater drink transmogrified in four days’ time into a cocktail made for first thing in the morning — although not really, just in a jokey way — and how your blogtender Sloshy got her groove back along the way.

So Thursday night, I went to see The Normal Heart (OMG GO) on Broadway with my friend Jackie, and afterwards the PhoBlograpHusband met us in midtown for a tipple or two. (It wound up being three, natch.) Beforehand, I’d scoped out this new-ish Theater District bar online called The Rum House, which is on the ground floor of the deliciously retro (if a shade shady) Hotel Edison, and as it’s from the guys behind Ward III in Tribeca, I figured we should check it out.

The lighting was perfectly dimmed and someone was playing away on the upright piano, so I liked The Rum House instantly. On its cocktail menu was a simple creation whose name now escapes me, comprised of bourbon, egg white and one of the countless Amaro liqueurs, served on the rocks. How had I not thought of something like this before? Then again, how was it possible that my home bar still lacked an Amaro, given the number of times I’d lustily ogled bottles of it behind the bars at such reputable establishments as Otto, Mario Batali’s awesome enoteca, and Brooklyn’s Watty & Meg?

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In the movie of my life, juleps might play the role of the piano in Shine, the spinning top in Inception, Pulp Fiction‘s glowing briefcase or Jerry Maguire‘s mission statement. They have given me pleasure personally and purpose professionally. During my lowest lows, when bartending was all I had going on and I was beginning to wonder what the hell had happened to me, I could fix a customer a damn good mint julep, watch his or her expression change for the better and know there was at least one thing I still did right enough to merit my getting out of bed. I’d also spent a birthday or two at the bar as a customer, cashing in on the staff’s golden rule: You can only order a mint julep for yourself when it is the day of your birth.

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Of course, the one time I am so besotted by my own cocktail invention that I vaingloriously choose to name the damn thing after myself — the one time I do that, of course I encounter practically that exact cocktail not once but twice within the same week.

Why, the chances of such a coincidence are nearly as preposterous as the obtuse grandeur with which I declare: TO HELL WITH ALL THE OTHERS, IT IS I WHO HAS INVENTED THE GREATEST COCKTAIL EVER THOUGHT UP BY MAN — OR WOMAN, BUT ESPECIALLY MAN!!

Let me back up.

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Dessert cocktails are usually not my thing. Their very etymology is redundant, and quite frankly, any drink sweet enough to merit the extra designation of “dessert” may as well just go by Insulintini as far as I’m concerned.

Dessert wines and dessert beers (the latter not a thing, really, but bear with me) tend to fall under that same philosophy, but in each case, I’ve got my much-cherished exception. For example, I love Moscato d’Asti, which is a peachy-flavored, pink-tinged, Italian sparkler that has become a hallmark of summer to me. Give me a split of Moscato and a porch on a 90-degree night and I’m completely in my cups (a phrase which, I swear to Bacchus, up until this very second I always thought meant just self-contentedly happy, but apparently it means happy via inebriation, which knowing me I can’t argue against).

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