Tag Archives: Cocktail

An Americano Holiday

As I sit here a four day weekend 100 miles from my basement bar is staring me in the face. What to pack? Don’t want to over pack, don’t want to under pack and be at the mercy of host’s bar. Whatever you’re bringing needs to be versatile, mobile, and it must play well with others.

I’m headed to my Father’s house. Fortunately he will have plenty of gin and bourbon, as well as a variety of dusty liqueurs and a weathered bottle of Angostura bitters. I would venture to guess his stock is similar to what you’d find in many basement bars. Just with more gin and bourbon. That being said, certainly not everything you need for a four day weekend.

I’ll be poolside for much of the weekend, but night caps and eye openers will also be required. I could lug Cointreau, Absinthe, and Lillet down to go with the gin for my eye opening Corpse Reviver. Follow that with a series of Dark and Stormy talls, a case of Goslings ginger beer and rum later, how will I have room for the pre dinner Aviation makings and night cap Manhattans.

I’m a solutions oriented guy, so here’s the solution:

Campari, sweet vermouth, oranges, and Spanish Bitters? Yes. And here’s how it works.

Eye opener; 1 to 1 Campari to Dolin, adjust to fit your palate.

Poolside? Poolside on Independence Day? Why an Americano of course; 1 to 1 to 2 parts Campari, Dolin, club soda.

To garnish the first I’d do a swath of orange, for the second, an orange wheel or three. I like the Spanish Bitters in each. Heavier in the eye opener, just a couple dashes in the Americano.

What about the night capper? Well, remember that gin I mentioned? A classic Negroni; 1 to 1 to 1 of our three players. Spanish Bitters to finish. And if the fireworks aren’t delivering, flame the orange for a finale.

I chose the Spanish Bitters for this weekend because they work well in the above drinks, but also in a Gin & Tonic or martini in case those are called for and I want to add a twist for the drinker.

Additionally, by going this route I also ensure that after a sixxer of Bell’s Two Hearted tonight, when my dad wants to switch to Manhattans, I know the vermouth will be fresh, because I brought it.

But most importantly, you arrive with only two bottles, no hassle, no strange looks, no scene. Yet, you can make all the above cocktails, and many more.

More you say? Yes. Take for example the Esquire Cocktail a 1 to 1 to 1 to 3 part ration of Aperol, liqueur, lemon, base spirit. Now, you’ve packed Campari, so that’s going to pack a bigger punch than Aperol, but if some wisenheimer cousin or brother in law starts talking cocktails and you want to show who the family cocktologist really is, give it a spin. I’d suggest pairing Dad’s bourbon, that crusty bottle of Benedictine, some lemons you saved from drowning in sun tea, and the Campari, with a splash of the Angostura or Spanish Bitters. Shake it up, or if you’ve finely strained the juice, you could even try stirring this one. It may not be the smoothest sipper, but it’ll put any naysayer in their place.

If you aren’t looking to over rattle your cocktologist’s saber, try the Golden Ratio by Jamie Boudreau. 1.5 parts spirit, .75 parts vermouth or other modifier, .25 parts liqueur or amaro. This ratio produces many fine cocktails. Simply use the vermouth you brought, the gin or bourbon available, and a quarter ounce of one of those dusty liqueurs.

So there you have it. Toss a bottle of Campari, some bitters, and a not too complex sweet vermouth in your bag and you’ll be ready to enjoy this long weekend in true cocktologist fashion.

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A Mood Reviver

I was in a foul mood upon arriving home. Definitely needed a stiff drink, an best make it a double.

Went to the fridge and grabbed an unsuspecting lemon. Juiced the bastard and came up with 1.5 ounces fresh squeezed lemon juice. What to do with the juice? Pulled Regan’s “Joy of Mixilogy” and rifled through looking for a recipe calling for .75 ounces of lemon juice. Remember, needing a double.

My eyes caught the Corpse Reviver #1, well that nasty thing wouldn’t due, but #2 sounded good. Wasn’t looking for 1.5 ounces of Triple Sec, too sweet, so I improvised.

I saw Gary Regan’s recent tweet;

“@gazregan: When you make a Béarnaise sauce, do you go looking for Chef Jules Colette’s nineteenth-century recipe?: http://t.co/sdVxpF9T”

this very AM and can’t say I was inspired, because I held the same views, but I do suggest reading his blog posting. He speaks to playing with ratios when using higher proof spirits or sweeter/stronger modifiers, but my tampering is in the same vein. Ted Kilgore of Taste suggests playing with ingredients in classic recipes when working on your own concoctions.

But back to the matter at hand:

Mood Reviver
1.5 ounces Gin
1.5 ounces Lilet Blanc
1.5 ounces Lemon juice
.75 ounces Mandarine Napoleon
.75 ounces Maraschino Liqueur
3.0 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters
2.0 dashes Dr. Adam’s Spanish Bitters

Combine in a cocktail tin, fill with ice, shake till frosty. Double strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with a swath of lemon peal.

Enjoy, don’t drive, that’s 4.5 ounces of booze mister, just have a second one and take a nap. Throw your keys under the couch before starting the first cocktail, just in case your mood worsens or improves too much.

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A Mother of a Cocktail

Needed something to put me at ease after a day spent at the ball park. A Cardinal’s loss and two burnt knees later, I needed a drink.

Went with an improved cocktail.

It being an all booze drink, I of course stirred it, didn’t want to bruise the booze. I decided to serve myself the drink with a two inch ice cube, in a short single old fashioned, with a cherry on top.

For the spirit I chose the Trybox Series Rye, which is unaged Rittenhouse, clocking in at 125 proof. For the liqueur I went with Maraschino. For the bitters I chose Bitters, Old Men Gangsta Lee’n Bitters. They’re a smokey bacon bitters. Tossed a house cherry in to finish.

I ended up with a strong, complex, sweet, not just improved, but perfect, cocktail. Just like my mom.


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A Revived Corpse Indeed

On most days a simple cup or eight of coffee will be enough to face the day, some days I need it bit more to brace myself for the coming onslaught, so coffee and a whiskey, then there are those other days…Like the day directly following Cinco de Drinko, I refuse to say Mayo, when the majority of revelers are reveling independence from France, and not an excuse to drink bottled margaritas, I’ll call it Cinco de Mayo. Anyway, today follows that nonsense, as well as Derby Day, something I do celebrate. Not only that, but for my StL brethren, today is Pigs and Pints at Civil Life Brewing Co.

As much as I’d love to be there, I have a higher calling this day, a baptism, and an opportunity to wear seersucker.

Still, after the numerous Juleps and the 750 ml of Imperial IPA I put down yesterday, I needed something strong and fortifying to get going this very morn.

When reviving a corpse, one has two options, Corpse Reviver No. 1 and Corpse Reviver No. 2, I like No. 2. Number 1 appears to be an after dinner or a boozer up fruity Manhattan.

Corpse Reviver No. 1
2.0 Applejack (Laird’s Bonded please)
.75 Sweet Vermouth
.75 Brandy

Stir in a mixing glass with ice, double strain, prepare to set hair on fire.

I drink, occasionally to excess, and if I started the morning with that blast of booze I’d end the evening with an arrest warrant. Therefore, I prefer the kinder, gentler, but buzz providing No. 2.

Corpse Reviver No. 2
.75 gin
.75 triple sec
.75 Lillet Blonde
.75 lemon juice
.25 Absinthe

Shake with ice, double strain, classically garnished with a lemon. I deviated here, I garnished with a grapefruit peel and added ten or so drops of Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit bitters.

Bittermens bitters are available at Boston Shaker where I get most of my shakers, specialty cups, and bitters. The Bittermens line is now available in the St. Louis market, you’ll see them proudly displayed at Taste, Blood & Sand, and Sanctuaria. They’ve got the full line, including shrubs, I’ve got the Tiki, Boston, and aforementioned bitters.

I also used Cointreau over triple sec, I just prefer it. Mandarine Napoleon or Grand Marnier have to heavy a brandy quotient and bog down the drink. As I prepared it, it’s tart, refreshing, and eye opening. Just the way it needs to be.

This drink also works well as an aperitif. It is the last cocktail I had on the last night of Monarch.

It did the job, getting me ready for a meal of five or so of there best appetizers. One should note, they didn’t double strain. Double straining is the dividing line between good and great. As I twitter tweeted Friday at @AmuseDouche11, if I wanted a snow cone, I’d order one. Of course that drink wasn’t even proportioned correctly and was horribly unbalanced, some that as simple as following the recipe for an Aviation would have corrected. The Monarch drink was perfect, other than the lack of tea strainer involvement. This versatile concoction can start a day, or start a dinner in style.

Harry Craddock noted, in “The Savoy Cocktail Book” that this drink should be “taken before 11 AM, or whenever steam and energy are needed.” I bet there are many of you out there, especially on this morning, needing a bit of both, so dust off the Lillet, pull your favorite local craft gin down, juice a lemon, and make Number 2 work for you.

In this shot No. 2 looks as angelic as I’m sure baby Kennedy will at her baptism later today. Good luck to proud papa and long time reader, Lance, and let’s hope for no impromptu No. 2s today.

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Summer is here.

Summer is here, the Cardinals are playing tonight, the Schlafly Farmer’s Market started today, the Masters starts tomorrow, the mercury has hit ninety in the last week, I don’t care what the calendar says, it’s summer, and that means it’s time for more gin, more KMOX Cardinal’s baseball, and more seersucker.

Nothing like sitting on the porch, sipping Aviations, and listening to Mike and John call a Cardinal’s game. I know you’re probably thinking, listening to the game, yes. For one, I can’t spend 162 nights glued to a TV, I need to be doing things around the house. For two, radio is the theatre of the mind, and listening to a game keeps the imagination and mind sharp. For three, Mike and John are the best announcer team in baseball, and I don’t feel like I’m drinking alone when I listen to Mike Shannon call a game.

So,what am I drinking? 20120404-194659.jpg
Tonight I am having my first Aviation of the season. This is my go to drink when the weather gets warm. It’s also my go to drink if I want to test the mustard of a new cocktail lounge. If they have Maraschino and Creme de Violet, they ought to be able to shake one of these up.

This once blew up in my face at 360, the over hyped, douche filled, completely disappointing bar at the top of the Ball Park Hilton across from Busch Stadium. The bartender made me an on the rocks Aviation with way too much Creme de Violet after I simply asked for an Aviation. The barman asked if I liked it, my shock at the fact that there was cubes of ice in my drink kept me from bringing that up, but I was able to mention the fact that my drink was cloyingly sweet. His response, “I usually make these for women.” What? DoIi look like a woman? What does that have to do with the ratio? If you don’t know how to make one, ask the customer, don’t assume anything. It’s a quarter ounce of Creme de Violet , wether or not the patron has a penis or a vagina, unless the customer asks for some other version, never assume they want anything other than a classic. In addition to that, my buddy who asks for Last Words when he sees Maraschino and Chartreuse, asked for a Last Word, and I had to walk the moron barman through the equal parts cocktail. Terrible. That place is a huge disappointment. Why have the liqueurs if all your barmen know how to do is pour a vodka tonic?

Anyway, unlike that no talent ass clown, I’ve made a million Aviations, the right way, but I thought I’d try something new and asked Dr. Adam Elmegirab for some advice on the Twitter, follow me at @AmuseDouche11, follow Dr. Adam at @AdamsBitters, I wanted to know what bitters to try in this traditionally bitterless beverage, so i asked the good Doctor. I wasn’t looking to add sweetness, sorry, still bitter about the 360 experience. Dr. Adam suggested his Spanish Bitters, for more on them click here , they worked wonderfully, and I wasn’t surprised as when it gets warmer Fee Brothers Rhubarb and Peach, Dr. Adam’s Spanish, and Bitter Truth’s Grapefruit are my usual reach fors.

2.0 ounces gin
1.0 ounces Maraschino Liqueur
.50 ounces lemon juice
.25 ounces Creme de Violet

Shake ingredients for twenty five seconds and then double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. I garnish with a strip of lemon.

I went with Dr. Adam’s Spanish Bitters, but could have easily gone with Bar Keep’s Lavendar Spice. It would have accompanied the Creme de Violet nicely.

Either way, it’s a dynamite cocktail.

I’ve been known to make pitchers of Aviations in preparation for a Cardinal’s game.

They’re great, but you need to use large cubes so that the drink isn’t diluted to far. You can see I used round ones from a ice sphere mold my boss gave me.

I’ve had Aviations without the Creme de Violet, they aren’t bad, but they lack the beautiful sky like blue color and a bit of sweetness. Go that route if you don’t have the Creme de Violet, but feel like a boozey, yet refreshing, warm weather cocktail. But, go get a bottle, it’s not that pricey checking in at about $25 a bottle, and at .25 an ounce per drink, it’ll take a lot of Aviations to run through a bottle. At one Aviation per Cardinal’s game, you’d go through two bottles on a season, a worthwhile investment. While you’re investing, get some Dr. Adam’s Spanish Bitters at cocktail kingdom or thebostonshaker.com.

There’s no Cardinals baseball tomorrow, but as it’s officially summer in my book, which is the only book that matters, I’ll be rocking the seersucker

and white bucks,

to start the new season. I’m sure I’ll also find a reason to have a spot of gin on the porch. The only thing better than seersucker and an Aviation is seersucker and a Mint Julep. The Kentucky Colonel Mint I picked up at the Schlafly Farmer’s Market will help with those later this summer.


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An improved cocktail, for an improved day

Improved Tequila Cocktail
2 oz Reposado Tequila
1 teaspoon Maraschino Liqueur
1 teaspoon agave nectar
2 dashes bitters

Stir ingredients in a stirring pitcher and then strain into a glass.

Garnish with a wist of lemon peel. I served mine in a rocks glass with a couple cubes. Twist the lemon peel over the drink, rub the rim of the glass, then drop it in as a garnish.

For more on improved cocktails, read Wonderich’s piece for Esquire. Basically, a cocktail is base, with bitters and simple syrup. A fancy cocktail is the same, with a lemon twist, an improved cocktail has Cointreau or Maraschino added in. I enjoy working with Maraschino, it adds a nutty dryness that I love.

For the bitters, I used Dr. Adams Dandelion & Burdock Bitters.

Occasionally I’ll purchase an odd bottling of bitters, such as this one from Dr. Adam. When I do this, I’ll research recipes for these bitters, and see what base spirits they work best with. The manufacture is often the best place to start.

Dr. Adam macerates, bottles, labels, and markets his own bitters out in Scotland. My kind of producer. The Dandelion & Burdock are wonderful with tequila. His Spanish Bitters are nice with rum or gin. Look for them at cocktailkingdom.

Often times I’ll see a new bitters at a bar and will ask the man or woman behind the stick how they incorporate the bitters. In St. Louis there’s been an influx of Bittermen’s Bitters. You’ll see the Tiki and Burlesque, which I have, as well as a chocolate bitters and several shrubs. They’re all damn good as well. Boston Bittahs in a G&T for one interesting usage.

I’ll use Bittermen’s Hopped Grapefruit bitters for a tasty twist on the improved tequila cocktail. Grapefruit has always paired well with tequila.

Look around and find a bottling to try for yourself. As I’ve said before, bitters are a wonderful way to change things up with your favorite cocktail. Enjoy.

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A once every four years treat.

This little beauty is the Leap Year Cocktail. Harry Cradock of the Savoy created this drink early in the last century, so there probably haven’t been more than a couple dozen opportunities to enjoy it.

Leap Year Cocktail
2.0 oz Hendrick’s GIn
.50 oz Grand Marnier
.50 oz sweet vermouth
.12 oz lemon juice

That’ll mix one Hell of an eye opener, Jackie.

Instead of measuring out the lemon juice, try just a dash or small bar spoon of juice. I haven’t tried it yet, but in 2016 I plan to sub in lemon bitters for the juice, maybe try Fee Brothers in one version and Bitter Truth in another. Who knows, with the bitters explosion and the explosion in popularity of this very blog, maybe I’ll use the latest bitters from some craft cocktail company that’s throwing money at me to push their product…maybe. With it just being a dash of juice, and certainly if you go the bitters route, stir the drink. I would fine-mesh strain the juice before incorporating it with the liquors.

Robert Hess shakes the drink on this video, for The Cocktail Spirit series, but if you properly strain the juice before adding it, I think stirring is the way to go. The lemon juice is only there to add a touch of brightness. Aperol and lemon bitters may do the same thing, if you’d like the drink a touch boozier. I guess that’ll depend on what kind of day you’re having at the end of February, 2016.

You may have noticed I used Mandarine Napoleon for this cocktail. It is true, I’m out of Grand Marnier, call the papers. But, at the end of the day, especially the 29th of February, does it matter? Yes, because the flavor will be a touch different, and no, because the two products are made in much the same way, only with different types of the same fruit. Technically, Mandarine Napoleon is closer to Cointreau as much of the base seems to be alcohol and sugar with macerated orange peels of various origin. Mandarine Napoleon does use cognac in their production, which takes them closer to Grand Marnier. I did not have the opportunity to do a side by side comparison, as I had no Grand Marnier, again, maybe in 2016 I’ll have saved up for a bottle.

I also used an American craft distilled gin. I didn’t want to break out the Cap Rock, so I went local, Pinckney Bend. Not bad.

The drink itself was okay. I will tinker with it come 2016, and, hopefully, come up with an orange liqueur, bitters/juice, gin, and less herbal vermouth, combination, that will make 2/29/16 a day that will live up to it’s once every four year status, or at least my morning cocktail will.

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Bourbon Milk Breakfast

I was still in a Mardi Gras mood with Fat Tuesday coming earlier in the week and felt like a NOLA themed eye opener this morning.

For my one brunch at Brennan’s in the French Quarter I remember starting with a Harvey Walbanger, and working my way through the several course meal with white wine, then topping it all off with a Bourbon Milk Punch.

Bourbon Milk Punch
1.5 ounces bourbon
4.0 ounces fatty milk
2.0 tsp simple syrup
2.0 dashes vanilla extract

Shake the ingredients vigorously. I actually wrap a towel around the shaker so I can shake past the point of the contraption being too cold to hold. You want a lot if air and frothiness in the final product. I use heavy cream instead of milk, but thats because heavy cream makes everything better. Stay away from skim milk here, you want a decent fat content, for a compromise get yourself a gas station size bottle of red lid, that’ll be enough for two drinks. I also use my rich simple syrup for this, and most all, drinks. Anyway, once a nice cold frothiness has been achieved, double strain and top with freshly grated nutmeg. For a video of Robert Hess preparing one, click back where is says video.

Use a spicy bourbon here. Because the drink is so cold, you lose a lot of the baking spice flavors, the addition of the nutmeg on top to greet your nose helps, so does drinking it in a snifter. I may try this drink with a one ounce pour of bourbon and a half ounce of dark rum, and see if that elevated the flavor. It’s a good drink as is, but there’s always room for improvement.

I paired my punch with some of the wife’s chocolate cake.

After a meal of toast two ways,

one piece with butter and locally made raspberry jelly, the other under yard fresh eggs from Thole House topped with grilled onions, house peppers, thyme, and grated cheese.

A pretty good breakfast, no Brennan’s, but this one didn’t cost $240 for two.

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Wednesday Night Tradición

Today is National Margarita Day and I felt like enjoying one this evening. Unfortunately, the Margarita isn’t on Sanctuaria’s cocktail club member’s list. So, I went with the next best thing.

The Maria Antoinette at Sanctuaria.

Maria Antoinette
1.5 ounces Añejo Tequila
0.5 ounces Cognac
0.5 ounces orange juice
0.5 ounces lime juice
.25 ounces agave nectar

Shake all ingredient with ice, double strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a flamed orange. Flamed orange? Yes, take a swath of orange, run a lighter across it a couple times, and then squeeze the orange piece so as to express the heated citrus oils into the flame and across the top of the drink. Then float the orange piece on top of the drink.

Use a juicy Cognac such as the one above, in this recipe the Cognac is adding sweetness, flavor, and French fanciness. Reposado tequila will also work, if you don’t want to use Añejo. I used Espalón’s Reposado. I’m not going to use Añejo tequila on a mixed drink, unless I’m charging money for it. For Margaritas I use Reposado over crystal or Añejo.

The classic Margarita by Robert Hess, created here, uses the following ratio:

2.0 oz Tequila
1.3 oz Cointreau
.67 oz fresh lime juice

This 2-1.33-.67 ratio is much sweeter than a 4-1-2 ratio base-sweet-sour we saw in my Save our Sour blog. But, as I mentioned in that piece, many like their Margarita’s a bit sweeter than their Whiskey Sours or Daiquiris. When recipes call for a liqueur as their sweetener, you’ll generally see more sweetener used in the ratio.

Gary Regan, who likes his drinks stiff, uses a 3-2-1 ratio in “The Joy of Mixology.” He also talks of a 3-2-1 ratio being used in many other drinks, including his Sidecar recipe, which Alton Brown claims is the base for the Margarita, but Ted Kilgore scoff at that, so who knows. The Cosmopolitan is another 3-2-1 cocktail, just with a splash of cranberry.

Be it the Marie Antoinette, whose proportions are closer to a SOS Sour, or the Margarita, try a recipe, and then tinker with it until you get your own ratio down, because in the end, it’s important to know what a drink is supposed to taste like, but it’s not necessary for you to make it that way.

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Fat Tuesday

Mardi Gras is upon us, what to reach for? Abita Turbo Dog or Purple Haze if beer is your thing, Hurricanes mixed from a powder, I hope not, bourbon milk punch, for breakfast, sure. But what if you’re looking for something with a bit more bite and authenticity? I did a write up on the Vieux Carre, that would work, but what about something somehow even more New Orleans?

The Sazerac
2.0 ounces good whiskey
2.0 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
0.5 tsp sugar (half a cube)
4.0 drops Absinthe
2.0 twists lemon peal

Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice, then take a mixing glass and muddle the sugar and a bit of water, add everything but the absinthe and one twist. Fill with ice and stir. Take the first glass and empty it, then add the absinthe, and swirl/rinse the glass. Now strain the cocktail into the rinsed and chilled glass. To garnish twist the last lemon peal over the cocktail and drop it in.

This drink has been around forever. Now that real absinthe is available here in the states, and there are a plethora of ryes available, so no excuse to not enjoy this classic. I enjoy the Thomas Handy over proofed rye for my Sazeracs. It has the additional heat needed to cut through the sweet and herbaciousness of the absinthe.

To do a real throwback drink, use a dry cognac, or use 1.5 ounces dry cognac and 0.5 ounces rye. Originally the Sazerac was a brandy cocktail.

The picture I lead off with is from the Sazerac bar in the Roosevelt Hotel off Cannal. It was closed for some time, but has reopened in a post Katrina NOLA and is a welcome sight to any traveler tired of the French Quarter scene, and needing a quiet, sophisticated, cocktail. They are also available at most any New Orleans bar, Napoleon House, Tujague’s, or the great and venerable Commander’s Palace, and also at bars here in this old French city.

The Sazerac at StL’s Taste Bar.

Any home bar should have the makings of this cocktail, better booze does distinguish the drink, but Herbsaint and Rittenhouse or worse yet Old Overholt will do. But what if a guest turns his or her nose up at this booze monster, but doesn’t want to settle for something less? Strumming through the most recent Imbibe magazine, I think I found the perfect back up.

Doctor Cocktail
2.0 ounces Jamaican rum
1.0 ounces Swedish Punsch
1.0 ounces lime juice

Shake these ingredient together with ice and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel or lime swath.

For the Swedish Punsch use Kronan’s, now available at The Wine Merchant. For the rum, I split the 2.0 ounces in half, half Smith and Cross for the Hugo and half El Dorado 12 year old for the smooth rich flavor.

This isn’t an original New Orleans beverage, but it has all the makings of a staple in my arsenal and can stand up to any classic. I’ll be in NOLA in August this year, and a Doctor Cocktail will be the perfect way to cut the heat when I grow tired of Hemingway Daiquiris and Ramos Gin Fizzes.

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