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Did you know today’s National Hangover Awareness Day? I did as of 90 seconds ago! Which is when I saw a tweet about the more-a-promotional-stunt-than-actual-commemorative-day Day. Although it makes sense, when you read the press release think about it: The Monday after the Super Bowl, in fact, clocks more calls in sick to work than any other day of the year.

If there were an official Five O’Clock Press Release in response to the NHAD press release, nobody would read it it would read:

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This is a post about friendship, a subject that tends to worm its way into your cranium quite a bit when a) it’s January and b) you’re spending your first of several years abroad, hundreds of miles from the people you like best and also from a TV that carries American college basketball.

Our friends Michelle and Dan, back in New York, are pretty awesomesauce peeps. I knew Michelle vaguely but fondly from the first time I lived in the city, before moving to the Midwest for several years. From the very minute I moved back to Gotham, thanks to forces I’ll never quite understand but will forever appreciate, the friendship was just there, fully realized and present. We both met our respective fiances within a year, doubling the number of very cool people we got to hang out with whenever we hung out together.

Of course, Michelle and Dan are big cocktail fans. (Srsly, why else would Sean and I ever hang out with anyone?) They’re not quite as fanatical as we are, I’d say, because in their hearts they save some room for beer, and also their whiskey allegiance veers towards the waters of northern Europe (IRL, UK, etc.) rather than the Nation of Kentucky. But a couple summers ago when Sean and I wanted to drive upstate to the Tuthilltown Distillery‘s Facebook Fan Appreciation Day (yes, that was a real thing — shut up, Sean won a bourbon barrel!), we knew exactly who we wanted to come along with us.

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Remember how I spent New Year’s Eve pouring various champagne cocktails, including The World’s Greatest Champagne Cocktail, because God forbid I let a single drop (of nastily cheap bubbles, mind you) go to waste? Well, I almost let many, many drops go to waste, as I’ve just now realized that I never blogged the Breakers 75.

I’m going to admit, I don’t entirely “get” this cocktail. For example, I don’t entirely get its name. The “75″ is referencing the French 75, no? But “Breakers,” does that mean… waves? Is this a cocktail for surfers? Was it invented at some cheesy, “nice” restaurant in the  80s? (For some reason, when I picture the word “Breakers,” that’s what I picture: A Reagan/Miami Vice-era notion of good taste and fine dining, spelled out in cursive neon. Probably bread plates that look like seashells, that sort of crap.)

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Now just hear me out.

Back in July, out of semi-desperation, I bought a pre-bottled, pre-mixed, $11 Jack and Coke from a vendor at a Mets (again, just hear me out!) game. It was surprisingly good, actually rather delicious, with no chemical sheen to the taste and a proper balance of liquor and cola. I noticed, perhaps for the first time, that Jack Daniel’s is well suited to the and-Coke genre. Bourbons almost blend in too well, with too much overall roundness to the highball; rye whiskeys can work but can also go down scratchy. Jack and Cokes are smooth up front and finish with a pleasantly peculiar, sour twist. Duly noted.

This post, however, is more about the Coke part. Not long at all after that Mets game, the Times ran a story on The Rise of the Hipster Soda Jerk (not its real title). And yes, the piece read as a cavalcade of waxed mustaches, sassafras, seltzer siphons and suspenders, but also the notion that “soda” oughta be “special” — uttered by not one but two of the jerks quoted.

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This cocktail comes via SeriousEats.com, courtesy of Gramercy Tavern in New York. While I needed to make a few detours around the restaurant’s recipe in order to tailor it to my diminishing stock, it also calls for certain ingredients I’ve got too much of lurking around my post-Thanksgiving fridge, so yay! (In case you haven’t noticed, this week on the blog is unofficially Make Use of T’giving Leftovers Week.)

What I was happy to have reason to use was my fresh thyme. Someday, I swear, I’m going to construct the world’s most impressive year-round herb garden (complete with shoe-organizer mini-plots!), but until then, I find myself all too often buying fresh herbs in presized packages, using a few sprigs for one recipe, then watching the rest wilt in the crisper. Not this time, Mother Nature! Half of my leftover thyme went into an infusion (reveal date TBD); the rest made the thyme syrup for the Fall Classic.

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Booze is at Defcon 1. Repeat: BOOZE IS AT DEFCON 1.

After drinking down our whiskey supply last week to the unspeakable amount of none, on Friday night the PhoBlograpHusband and I (were we drugged? hallucinating?) offered to supply the hard liquor at a friend’s get-together in her nearby Plateau apartment. Sean put together an impressive travel bar backpack full of drinkies-poo: gin, both vermouths, Campari and I think dark rum and bitters. This was not the most experienced cocktailing crowd, which was more than fine, because all we had to do was mix up a nice round of Negronis and we were regarded as freaking geniuses.

Also dry geniuses: Four weeks to go ’til the end of Sean’s semester, and what remains of the home stock is… vodka. And I think Calvados. And like two bottles of ouzo. So when Sean mentioned that he came across this Absolut Maple Sour recipe from a Google ad or spam mail (if I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t fully cop to it either), what else was a girl to make? Times is tough, and recessions ain’t just for breakfast anymore.

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Blogging is emotional, people, and here’s why. One day I’m confessing to you all the twists and turns, dead ends, missteps, frustrations and, ultimately, the satisfaction that comes from fashioning a cocktail recipe outta nada. And we liked that, right? The Bathtub Gin(ger) — it sounds delightful, no? We picture, like, those fantastical, Depression-era black-and-white flickers with the Mae West and the Ginger Rogers and the silky peignoirs and the heart-shaped hotel bathtubs on pedestals. Don’t we? (I have a pretty active imagination.)

And then the next day, what I have to confess to you is this: I found this other cocktail site that is a pretty excellent resource for mixologists of all levels, a really thorough, user-friendly, cleanly designed database of drink recipes that absolutely merits my recommending it to you, and now y’all are gonna leave me, I just know it. Boo hoo hoo! Now I’m picturing a Douglas Sirk B-grade weepy in which Barbara Stanwyck slaps the dickens out of her unrequiting lover because she is mentally unhinged and afraid of losing him.

Kindred Cocktails lets you browse recipes by author, ingredient, base liquor or most-recently-added recipes. Anyone is allowed to contribute. The guy who runs it calls himself “Chief Swizzlestick,” which your Head Blogtender finds almost but not quite as clever as Head Blogtender.

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In Montreal, Halloween’s a very big deal. Like NO-SCHOOL-THE-DAY-AFTER! big (candy hangover NOMMMMM…).

We’ll be spending tonight seated in front of our duplex with one of our upstairs neighbors, treats at the ready. (Smarties, the world’s greatest candy, am I right?) He informed us that this is tradition around here, because it prevents us all from going crazy hearing our doorbells go off 300 times in one night. I swear to you, in my 15 1/2 years of postcollegiate adulthood, spent in 13 previous apartments, I have never had a single Halloween customer come to my door! I’m so excited!

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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Rye Perfect Manhattan

I

Rye used to be implied

When ordering Manhattans

Bourbon’s bastardized that, but it’s ok, bourbon; I love you, too.

II

I like to surprise people

By serving them a Manhattan

And then a rye perfect one.

Watch their faces as a new favorite drink is discovered!

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Guest post by Dan Saltzstein, a cocktail enthusiast and an editor in the Travel section of The New York Times. Do yourself a favor and follow him on Twitter.

The origin story of my house cocktail begins with a glass of amaro, the bitter Italian liquor flavored with a secret mixture of herbs, roots, dried citrus peel and who-knows-what. After a meal at Frankies Sputino, a terrific Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, a friend offered me a taste as they drink it in Italy: straight-up, after a meal, as a digestif. I wasn’t a fan. Too syrupy, too bitter, too sweet. But, I thought at the time, this would go great with some seltzer and a splash of citrus.

So I tried that combo — and loved it. The seltzer cut through the viscous amaro and some lemon (or a combination of lemon and orange) brightened its dark flavors. It was refreshing, tasty and (to use a word I try to avoid when writing about booze) addictive. I tried a few amari and settled on Averna, a Sicilian brand that is particularly herbal and dark. I drank that combo all through that summer.

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