Liquor Nerd: Spring cleaning a blessing when it comes time to do something about the Tangerine Sour Puss

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      Where in the hell does it all come from? That’s a question we ask on multiple fronts every time a rainy West Coast winter turns, seemingly overnight, into sun-drenched spring.

      Where in the hell does the dust—half an inch deep on the furniture, and making full-blown bunnies beneath the bed—come from? The second the spring sun arrives it’s made abundantly clear you’re the worst housekeeper in the world. For proof, simply look at the layers on your Arditi Collection side table, LG NanoCell 75-inch 8K UHD LED smart TV, and Gaggia Babila Super Automatic espresso machine. 

      Where do the flowers come from? How can daffodils, tulips, lamb’s ears, goat’s beards, bleeding hearts, star creepers, and fantastically filthy-sounding red hot pokers spend half the year doing sweet dick all buried where the sun don’t shine? And then pop back up like clockwork for a couple of weeks before going back to sleep for another seven months.
      But, because spring is time for spring cleaning, one of the biggest questions every March is “Where did all this crap I don’t need come from?”

      The Saint Axl Rose Dirty Lola prayer candle. The framed Williamsburg doily with “God Bless This Mess” spelled out in Pabst Blue Ribbon bottle caps. Meik Wiking’s The Little Book of Hygge—you’ve never been to Denmark, so you have zero idea of how people there live. And mostly, because liquor’s all that’s getting you through the pandemic at this point—a half-dozen half-empty bottles of booze you have no recollection of buying, and have zero idea how to use.
      Meaghers’ Crème de Menthe. Berentzen Apfelkorn. Uphoria Pomegranate. Ricard Pastis de Marseille.

      And not one, but two bottles of Sour Puss—one tangerine and one raspberry flavoured. For those last two, we ask your forgiveness sweet Saint Bill Boothby, because at some point during the journey to truly enlightened liquor nerdom, we were obviously clueless.

      A well-stocked liquor cabinet might be a sign of good breeding, but not when Sour Puss is in the house.

      Here’s the problem with spirits—unless you’re talking cream-infused offerings like Baileys or RumChata, they theoretically last forever. Or at least during your time on Earth. Which means that Sour Puss will sit there until you either use it or dump it.

      There’s no need to drink that bottle of Old Fitzgerald Very Old 8 Year Old bourbon in two pulls because it’s still going to taste the same six months from now. Same for whatever bottle of gin, tequila, rum, or cherry-cheescake bottle of vodka you’ve got kicking around.

      As for liqueurs, alcohol acts as a preservative. And that explains why, even though McGuinness no longer seems to make Uphoria Pomegranate, you’ve got a perfectly usable quarter bottle—which tastes disturbingly like cherry cough syrup—taking up valuable space in the liquor cabinet.

      And why, apart from the taste (think Pop Rocks melted in cherry cough syrup), that your Raspberry Sour Puss is perfectly consumable despite being at least a half-decade old.

      So how to proceed? When looking at bottles you haven’t touched since Barack Obama was president, the easiest thing is to dump them down the drain or off the condo balcony.

      But then common sense also reminds you that we’re in pandemic times, where today’s job can vanish tomorrow. And when money’s tight you get creative with what you’ve got. You just need to accept that not every cocktail creation will remind you of that Macadamia Nut Mai Tai you had at the Tahiti Nui in Hanalei.

      So, um, Sour Puss. The roots of the mouth-puckering liqueur can be traced back to the turn of last century, when cocktails were all about offerings like easy-pour Appletinis and Sex In the City Cosmopolitans. Never mind the Savoy, Experimental Cocktail Club, or Canon Bar—the world was happy with TGI Fridays and bridge-and-tunnel faves like the Blackberry Long Island Ice Tea and Electric Lemonade.

      So, as you spring clean, use up that Sour Puss by embracing the era of Blockbuster, Zima, and Must-See TV. As long as you’re in on the joke, no one will judge you for breaking out your best puffy pirate shirt or neon scrunchie and then settling in for a Seinfeld marathon with a couple of Rockets (blue curaçao, lemon-flavoured vodka, and Raspberry Sour Puss mixed with pulverized, Slurpee-like ice).

      Relive the golden age of appallingly named shooters with a double bill of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights and a half-dozen Spray-Tan Porn Stars (1/2 ounce blue curaçao in a shot glass topped by 1/2 ounce Tangerine Sour Puss).

      No modern bartender wants to hear the words “I’ll have an Appletini”, but no one will shame you for making use of the Berentzen Apfelkorn that’s kicked around since Oktoberfest 2013. Pull on the lederhosen and put a Bavarian spin on things with an Apple Strudel Martini (vodka, apple juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, Berentzen Apfelkorn, shaken with ice and strained into a glass).

      Crème de menthe provides an essential building block for the Grasshopper, but more than three or four of those things a day is asking for clogged arteries. So instead embrace the Grasshopper Coffee (Kahlúa, espresso, steamed milk, and crème de menthe), starting with one at 9 a.m. as you begin your home workday, another at 10 a.m., and repeating as necessary.

      Uphoria Pomegranate? Um, sometimes you gotta cut your losses and do the Prohibition pour. There’s a reason McGuinness no longer makes that stuff.

      Finally, spring cleaning can also be a time for revelations when it comes to culling the liquor cabinet. As much as that mysterious bottle of Ricard Pastis de Marseille might seem about as useful as Sour Puss, a quick Google search reveals you’re actually sitting on liquid gold.

      At some point you obviously muled it back from France after a couple of beautifully blurry weeks in Provence, and then promptly forgot about it. Which is a shame, because the anise-flavoured spirit—created in 1932 as an alternative to absinthe—is the springboard for a whole range of elegant French cocktails.

      Go traditional with a Ricard (Pastis de Marseille, grenadine, and water). Swap in the pride of Marseille for absinthe in an Obituary or a Tremblement de Terre.

      Or use Ricard Pastis de Marseille the way God intended by making the classic French cocktail known as the Mauresque.

      Originally absinthe-based, the drink dates back to the 1830s when it was reputedly invented by French soldiers stationed in Algeria. Today Ricard Pastis de Marseille is most-often used, and the drink is potent thanks to the 45 percent ABV of its main ingredient.

      Have two, and the hell known as spring cleaning will screech to a halt. Or suddenly—despite the layers of dust, and endless armies of dust bunnies—become a whole lot more enjoyable.


      2 ounces Ricard Pastis de Marseille
      1 ounce orgeat syrup
      Chilled water
      Pour Pastis and orgeat syrup into a chilled Collins glass. Top with chilled water, add ice cubes, and stir. g