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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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Guest post by St. Louis-based attorney and old friend of mine Tim O’Connell, who worked at daily newspapers, and a few taverns, before being admitted to the bar.

Blogtender’s Note: Those readers who’ve been to The Royale (psst, it’s Royale Week here at the blog) know that if there’s one thing people like about The Royale (and there isn’t; there are always several things people like about it) it’s the Subcontinental, sometimes ordered as “that cucumber cocktail you guys make?” But it’s got lots more depth — in flavor complexities and, as you’ll read here in a guest post by its inventor, in mixological history — than that.

It began with tzatziki. I’d peeled, seeded, and grated the cucumbers and had dutifully squeezed the shreds with cheesecloth in preparation for adding them to some drained yogurt. It was a hot day. The cucumbers were cold, as was the green essence that collected in the bowl under the cheesecloth. The juice’s clean scent filled the room, and it was incredibly refreshing. It tasted of greenness and health.

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