Image courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers/Cover Design by Robin Bilardello

Commonly prevailing wisdom says you shouldn’t drown your sorrows in a bottle. And, while we’re not advocating alcoholism as a solution, we do acknowledge that there are some times when you’re going to need a drink to properly mark life’s little moments. And the big ones too; both bad and good. You’ve got your perfect playlist to suit every mood, so, why not pick the right drink to fit each situation?

Unsure what that is? You won’t be after reading Marshal Altier and Jordan Kaye’s How to Booze-Exquisite Cocktails and Unsound Advice. Read this ultimately spirited life guide and amusing social commentary on finding the right drink for every situation and in no time you’ll be sipping the appropriate tipple to match your mood whether you’re catching up with old friends, coping with a bad blind date, engaged in a threesome, engaged in self-love, brunching, dining al fresco, meeting your future in-laws, and more.

This book came together thanks to a meeting of the minds. Kaye says, “Marshall and I had a great time writing this book. From the very beginning we shared a common sensibility, a common vision on what this project was about: bringing fantastic cocktails to a broad audience using our own distinctive brand of humor and imagination. We met at Tailor, where Marshall used to work, at a meeting set up by our agent Jessica Regal. And basically we wrote the book sitting at bars, cocktail spots, dives. And we had a great time. One benefit for me, as basically a home-grown cocktail guy, is that I have become just much, much better at making drinks after spending so much time with Marshall. But the project couldn’t have happened if we didn’t really share a specific sense of humor and aesthetic. More than anything I think that’s what made the book work.”

Some suggestions from Altier and Kaye

There are make or break moments in a relationship. In some relationships, it can feel like every moment is a make or break moment. But a real big one comes around eight weeks in. By this juncture, confidences have been made. Friends have been introduced. Family members have shared unsolicited points of view. Underwear has been removed – quite a number of times, actually – and the first box of condoms is dangerously close to empty. It’s time to buy another,. Much bigger box of condoms, or consider a fresh prescription for birth control pills. Either way, you next visit to the pharmacy becomes, in itself, a momentous step forward in the relationship.

Unless what you really want to do is take a step backward. To take a weekend off and see how it feels. To check up on your ex, peek at newcomers to your preferred dating site – test the old waters. So to speak. In that case, your next trip to the pharmacy looms like a coffin nail, and that prescription will cost you far more than your usual twenty-dollar copay.

So: pharmacy or no pharmacy? Between you and the answer is a cocktail and a quiet event. A…dare we say it? A romantic evening. We know it’s awkward. In this day and age no one can even say “romantic” without averting their eyes. We acknowledge the existence of our emotional selves the same way we acknowledge someone passing gas: no use pretending the room doesn’t smell, thanks very much, but let’s move on now, shall we?

Romance, like passed gas, is slightly uncomfortable to think about. But the point of this evening – and this cocktail – is to take you out of your comfort zone. If the candles, the soft voices, the drink and the fancy-ish clothes just feel wrong wrong wrong, perhaps it’s time to part ways. But if there’s magic in the air? Congratulations. Down your drinks with gusto, dash for your local pharmacy’s “naughty” aisle, and scurry back home.

1 ½ oz Dubonnet
1 ½ oz Dry gin
Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with lemon peel.

Dubonnet sounds exotic, but this French aperitif (très romantique) is sold in most liquor stores, and a large bottle costs no more than a bottle of cheap wine. Aromatic and nicely balanced between sweet and dry, it is a fortified wine spiced with quinine, orange rind, cinnamon, chamomile flower, and other excitements. While it’s a touch too intense for taking straight, Dubonnet mixes beautifully with gin, rendering a subtle and surprisingly easy-to-love cocktail.

As simple as a Dubonnet cocktail is to make there’s no getting around the fact that it’s an unusual drink. But this is an unusual night. This is an elegant and, yes, romantic choice for the night that has been set aside for either closing the deal or moving on.

Dear reader, if you are a first-class passenger, this episode is not written for you. We offer you our congratulations. Now, enjoy your soft, pointless life of indolence and turn the page.

For the rest of you: Life is full of indignities large and small, if you are only willing to look for them. Example: your fellow readers, the ones who just turned to the next page. You have seen these people before. They were the ones who whisked by you on a separate line at check-in. You saw them as you were prodded cattle like onto the plane; they were already nestled into overstuffed leather seats with legroom so excessive it could serve no purpose other than to take space away from the rest of the passenger cabin. Peering down with contempt at their trash mags, you think, no Wall Street Journal for the – already made their millions, these ones have. (Of course, the same trash mags are crumpled in your carry-on, but never mind. You didn’t spend money on your reading material. You stole it from the dentist’s office.) You shuffle by an entire row of first class dedicated to a set of four-year-old twins and their nanny….

As you contort every which way to pull your shoes off your feet, you thank the Lord for the minor injury that you suffered six months ago. More specifically, you thank the Lord for the prescription painkillers the injury earned you. Your orange-bottled savior will deliver you to your destinations like a babe-in-arms and will fly in on the wings of a room-temp alcoholic beverage, served by a surly flight attendant who was recently demoted from first class for her willful lack of charm.

2 oz Vodka
1 ½ Cranberry Cocktail
1 ½ Orange Juice
Serve curtly, in plastic cup on ice.

Made with ingredients stocked on even the sparest of beverage carts, the Madras is well-suited for air travel. Vodka, with its relatively few congeners (the complex organic molecules that often lead to the more punishing hangovers) is a good starting point. A good three ounces of vitamin-rich, that when the plane touches ground, you will awake feeling refreshed and relatively untrammeled by the effects of airline humiliation and substance withdrawal.

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