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I usually don’t like people when I first meet them, but not Sam. On the afternoon of Montreal Bar Vs. Chef, us competitors, which included said Sam, took a written test about contest sponsor Appleton rums, then we had a break for dinner. Sam strode up to me and asked in a friendly sort of bellow if I’d like to come have dinner with them. I didn’t know who them was but I said sure. Turns out that Sam is one of those folks who can make conversation with a relative stranger quite a pleasant experience, which is probably just one reason why he’s so well-suited for what he does.

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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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OK, yes, I know Dark and Stormies are so 2009-at-Botanica. Even if I did not know that, it is a fact that the D’nS has jumped the fad shark because by the time the NYT gets around to running a story about something, that something has likely already filtered its way down into a TGI Friday’s/Old Navy/insert corporate chain you love to mock here.*

The thing is, Dark and Stormies are good. So good. At our bon voyage boozeefest in July, our lushy-lush friends polished off an entire bottle of Myers’s in one night thanks to Dark and Stormies. And they’re so goddamned simple it’s almost not fair. They’re highballs, for Chrissakes. Why bother bashing your skull coming up with the GREATEST COCKTAIL EVER¬†when it’s so easy to just fix yourself a Dark and Stormy? Read the rest of this entry »

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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“A belly laugh is like a cocktail without the hangover.”

Nobody said that; I just made it up to justify today’s post, which had me LOLing so hard I ran out of time to write!

The following is what my friend P. wrote in a card that arrived in the mail the other day. It included a check as a wedding gift. Our wedding, it is important to note, took place a year and 24 days ago. It’s also important to note that Sean and I are moving to Montreal at the end of July, hence the Canada references.

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Dear Tri-State Weather,

You are being a whiny little beeyotch this week. After putting up with all your petulant bullshit throughout the entirety of spring (wait, what spring? Exactly), now you are ruining Summer Cocktail Week. I plan a Mai Tai post and you decide that it’s a good day for intermittent drizzle and an overcast sky that can only be described as pawn-shop pewter. Do you see a dot-uk at the end of this blog’s url? You’re just fucking un-American, weather.

The World’s Greatest Mai Tai

1 1/2 ounces Myers Rum

1 ounce of another dark rum of your choice

1/2 ounce orange curacao

1 1/4 ounces lime juice

1/2 ounce orange juice

1/2 ounce orgeat

1/4 ounce simple syrup

Orange peel and cocktail umbrella, for garnish

Combine all liquid ingredients into an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. Strain into a Pilsener glass that has been filled with crushed ice, swizzle-style. Garnish.

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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As both a maker of cocktails and a plier of the written word, I am wholly offended by garish concoctions (cocktastrophes, perhaps?) that look like this and, insult on top of insult, co-opt the nomenclature of “daquiri”:

And so, welcome to reason #I-lost-track of why I so thoroughly enjoyed pitching drinks at The Royale, where the Holly Hills daquiri looks like this:

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