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HHH2

Me: Hey, J. and M. [our favorite married-couple-with-new-baby-in-Montreal friends] invited us over on Mother’s Day afternoon for cocktails. J.’s mother and grandmother are in town. J. says her mother and I will get along because we’re both drinkers.

The PhoBlograpHusband: Wait — for cocktails?! [J. doesn't drink; M. will drink beer but only because that's the law in Canada.]

Me: I know, right? J. even emailed me their list of what booze they’ve got in the house and, omg, it’s sooo “we never drink hard liquor.” It’s, like, gin, vodka, Jack Daniel’s, a little bit of dry vermouth, OJ.

PHB: We should bring our own stash over.

HHH1

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Cheeky Monkey 2A million years ago Last year, I did some damage to a bottle of yellow Chartreuse. Actually, it was only half a bottle; a Francophone friend up here in Montreal asked me to bootleg him back from the States a 375ml-sized bottle of the stuff, and as I could only find the 750ml size, I shared it with him.

Anyway, I’ve had some yellow Chartreuse on hand, is what I’m saying, and it’s one of those liqueurs (like ouzo) where a little goes a long way. Especially since it’s got a peculiar flavor that doesn’t go with every Old Tom, Dick and Harry. Even more especially because yellow Chartreuse, unlike its green cousin, is super ‘spensive, so you want that shizz to last.

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stork redo

The real reason we all drink, I think, when you get right down to it (and I’m paraphrasing myself here), is to whisk(ey) ourselves away in our mind’s eyes to another place and time, preferably involving fedoras, garters, cigarette holders, evening gloves, watch fobs and other accoutrements of a halcyon generation past.

This is certainly true when you now do all your drinking at 9 p.m. in your messy kitchen, with your kid finalllllly asleep a couple rooms away, a geriatric dog who perpetually smells like pee hanging out at your feet and a mound of dirty dishes staring you down from across the room.

But I don’t want any of you to think, now that I’ve got a daughter and a book that happens to be called The Big Book of Martinis for Moms, that this blog is taking a permanent turn towards all things parental. Far from it (just a little for my first week back, perhaps), and my proof to you of this is the Stork Club cocktail.

Stork Club Logo 001 (1)

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Time moves more slowly in Canada. I move more slowly with child. Put ‘em together and what’ve you got? A 35-day month, but one that’s worth the wait, for at the end of it lies the Month-Old Manhattan.

When I first mixed this drink in May, having gotten the recipe’s inspiration from a restaurant‘s cocktail menu in St. Louis, I commended its use of old-school rye whiskey instead of bourbon as a base and marveled at the inclusion of curacao, which gave it a more playful (but still not juvenile) flavor. I’m paraphrasing myself here, but I described its unaged taste as appealingly scratchy-smooth-sweet on the palate.

Well; what a difference a five-week month makes. After spending that span of time sealed tightly in a Mason jar, the Month-Old Manhattan now boasts a shooting-out-of-the-gate upfrontness, like it couldn’t wait to get down somebody’s gullet, pronto. What may surprise you most, though, is which parts of its original profile are doing the tastebud-grabbing and the ass-kicking. This cocktail is, first and foremost, orange. Like, woah, orange. Like, oh!-range. And that’s despite that fact that I’d subbed rail-quality triple sec for top-shelf curacao.

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Damn you, St. Louis! Damn your exploding cocktail scene, three-and-a-half years after I move away. Damn you and your 150-libations-long cocktail menus and your Tales of the Cocktail award noms, your Ted Kilgores, your envy-inducing, membership-only cocktail boites that just happen to be housed in the most awesomest speakeasy-style restaurant space EVER.

And damn the recent cover story in Alive Magazine (a local lifestyle rag for chicks with meticulously maintained blonde highlights that I make fun of a lot in my head, but still) listing the top 20 cocktails in the city, which just so happened to be the current issue  when I swung through town a few weeks ago, reeling as I customarily do from the timewarp-mindfuck that comes from revisiting my once-hometown, coupled with the fact that I’m still pregnant and can’t shouldn’t really no damnit can’t drink anyway. You are killing me Saint Louis.

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“Suggestions for ouzo?… I don’t love it, and online drink searches reveal Coke, coffee liqueur, Jagermeister (OMG), neon blue additions (I hate), and lemonade as flavor pairings.” — Blog commenter clstal, 02 May 2012

Thanks for asking, clstal! And double thanks for your awesome (even if unintentional) reference to one of my favorite Patton Oswalt bits.

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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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Guest post by Sean Lorre, PhoBlograpHusband.

While stocking up on booze in New Jersey over the holidays, this interesting little gem caught my eye…

I can’t say particularly what drew me to The Kraken, if it was my childhood love of the original The Clash of the Titans (1981), my college-age infatuation with Captain Morgan Spiced Rum (we all make mistakes), or the $15.99 price tag; perhaps all of the above. Whatever the attraction, we needed a dark rum and the Kraken seemed like a fun little toy to experiment with. It promised the type of dark, molasses-y qualities of Myers or Goslings Black Seal at half the price and with a hint of spice that can be quite lovely when not overdone. I’m looking at you, Cap’n…

After reading the label, checking out the website and tasting it, I have to admit, I’m still a little confused by this product. Although it’s not what you would consider a craft liquor — it contains caramel color and “natural flavors” — I found The Kraken rather enjoyable.  It has an interesting nose, similar to Captain Morgan but more subtle and complex. It has little of the depth I associate with black rum but is robust enough to hold up to most anything you want to throw at it — or more accurately, into it. It calls itself imported (via Jersey City, I might add…) but is bottled and, I guess, blended in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, which I imagine is across the border from Johnsburg, Illinois. But I digress…

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As I spent part of last week mewling about, there’s nada mucho booze left up in this maison, and I’m trying to hold off replenishing the stock until after the holidays. (My liver may be titanium-grade, but my bank account contains only tumbling tumbleweeds.) However, that’s not the reason I invented the Ghetto Mai Tai. Like the Ghetto Julep, the Ghetto Mai Tai speaks not to my neurotic frivolity (although there is that) nor my proclivity towards the fabulously trashy (oh, don’t go there, Mizz Hmm!). It’s just about how some nights I enjoy achieving a mild pickling via a fun, supermarket ingredient-friendly, easy peasy glass of silly.

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I have done such a complete 180 on Campari over the last few years… actually, sometimes I fear that it’s not so much that I’ve done a 180 on Campari as I’ve suffered from a life-long brain-fart conflation between Campari and Pimm’s. Because they’re both russet-toned and from the other side of the ocean, just like Communists, and my memory really started going to pot when I hit 34. The point is, I will still look at you sideways if you tell me you really love Pimm’s Cups and probably ask to see your papers because you’re clearly a pond-jumping toffer, but I will toast with you the whole night through if you tell me you love Negronis and Americanos. (Which are from Italy, I realize… logic’s not my strong suit today.)

It’s clear I’ve also been on a bit of an old-fashioned kick lately, probably because whiskey drinks on the rocks are inherently winter-appropriate, to my mind, and not terribly elaborate to make. This Campari Old-Fashioned is super-easy to make and gives you a reason to pull the Campari bottle down from the shelf between the months of November and April.

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