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I was in a rut.

Something terrible had happened to me, and as a consequence I had descended into alcoholism, drinking one cocktail at the nearest bar every non-Sunday night for nine straight weeks:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Hemingway Special Martinez French Connection Mojito Corpse Reviver #2 Trinidad Sour
Hanky Panky Lemon Drop Martini Casino Illegal French 75 Kir
Vesper Sea Breeze Moscow Mule Bellini Barracuda John Collins
New York Sour Fernandito Sazerac Irish Coffee Rusty Nail Dry Martini
Mint Julep Singapore Sling Paper Plane Mimosa Cuba Libre Espresso Martini
White Lady Porto Flip Pisco Sour Tipperary Sidecar Daiquiri
Vieux Carré Piña Colada Golden Dream Gin Fizz Tequila Sunrise Sex on the Beach
Between the Sheets Zombie Clover Club Paradise Margarita Spicy Fifty
Horse's Neck Old Fashioned Ve.n.to Brandy Crusta Cosmopolitan Canchanchara

The bartender on duty gazed with trepidation at the shadow of myself I had become, eyes darting all over and hands trembling involuntarily, as I ordered the Canchanchara. "You do know you'll be ordering your 54th different IBA cocktail with this, right? Why not try something else?"

"Well…" I mumbled in my increasingly creaky voice. "I've not been choosing these on a whim or the flip of a coin. The whole chain of cocktails means something, something about me I was perhaps too afraid to tell you directly or before."

"What's that?"

Of course I had planned the whole drinking spree beforehand, but in this chronically drugged state I could only remember vague points. "It's like I was dragged back from third base to second base – not like I'm telegraphing it to you."

"I don't get anything you just said," the bartender shrugged, before righting herself as if she had an epiphany. "Those words… he's a top 100 mathematician…" she whispered to herself, before rushing to a back room with the perfunctory "Excuse me while I get your tabs and Python up!"

What message had I hid in the cocktails?


The story above is wholly fictional; I am an alcohol abstentionist in real life, though I've drank the Singapore Sling at its birthplace – the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel – and more recently a Mojito, which was a primary inspiration for this puzzle.

The Mojito was part of a Japanese beef restaurant course, served in a glass about the size of an Old Fashioned. My family members described it as relatively weak, but I complained of being intoxicated the day after.

After drinking each cocktail I gave a number of thumbs up from 0 to 2. The Daiquiri got 0, the Bellini 1 and the Illegal 2.

Essentially all of the steps required are captured in my line beginning "It's like I was dragged back..." and its precise words "third base", "second base" and "telegraphing".

The days of the week are just for presentation. The first step is to take the whole sequence of 54 drinks and convert it to a ternary number...

...with hint 1 giving the mapping.

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  • $\begingroup$ For reference: List of IBA official cocktails on Wikipedia. $\endgroup$
    – dan04
    Dec 14, 2021 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ rot13(Nz V pbeerpg va gur nffhzcgvba gung jr zhfg trg gur greanel ahzore sebz gur pbpxgnvyf hfvat VON pynffvsvpngvba, gura pbaireg gb ovanel, gura ernq nf zbefr pbqr? Ohg jvgubhg xabjvat gur punenpgre frcnengbef zbefr pbqr vf irel nzovthbhf/grqvbhf gb qrpbqr. Nz V zvffvat n uvag/pyhr sbe gung?) $\endgroup$
    – Surma
    Dec 23, 2021 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ @LOTGP rot13(Lbh'er nyzbfg pbeerpg ba gung ertneq, rkprcg gung nsgre gur ovanel pbairefvba gur ahzore bs ovgf jvyy or irel pbairavragyl n zhygvcyr bs n fznyy ahzore, juvpu yrnqf gb n qvssrerag gryrtencu pbqr.) $\endgroup$ Dec 23, 2021 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ Oops, turns out that when attempting to rot13(pbaireg sebz gevanel gb ovanel), the number was too large and floating-point rounding made it not decode properly. $\endgroup$
    – Surma
    Dec 23, 2021 at 19:47

1 Answer 1

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The message you have encoded is:

LOST MSE ELECTION

Which you encoded via a multi-step process that is clued in your statement: It's like I was dragged back from third base to second base – not like I'm telegraphing it to you."

Step 1:

Extract a ternary number from the cocktails via their IBA classification:

cocktails

Which gives us the number: 101112020211111120220100112112001200011011010012102012.

Step 2:

Convert the number to binary, giving us the number: 1001011000001011000000100111000010100001001000000110010000010111010000001101100001100.

Step 3:

Convert this number to text via the Baudot code, giving us the final message: lost mse election.

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