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:
|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."
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.