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New York Times, Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Author: Herre Schouwerwou
Editor: Will Shortz
Herre Schouwerwou
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
71/15/201511/1/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0113200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64100

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 36 Missing: {BQ} This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Schouwerwou. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Herre Schouwerwou notes: When life gives you lemons you make ... a cocktail. After rejecting 2 different drink-themed crosswords, this one was finally ... more
Herre Schouwerwou notes:

When life gives you lemons you make ... a cocktail. After rejecting 2 different drink-themed crosswords, this one was finally accepted.

Initially, the first puzzle featured MIXED DRINKS (WATER hidden in DESERT WARFARE, e.g.) but it did not pass the bar. The second one was similar to today's puzzle but Will and Joel felt there was inconsistency with the entry OLIVER TWIST. When I explained why it was different they agreed to take another sip. They suggested changing the order of the entries as well as having the revealer come before the garnish. We knocked back a few different recipes before arriving at this one (and even then they added a few flavorings of their own). I tried to strain out most of the gluey bits so I hope the few that are left don't ruin the taste of this crossword cocktail.

A toast to Will and Joel for their invaluable input. Cheers!

Jeff Chen notes: GIN + VERMOUTH + ICE = DRY MARTINI It's pretty unusual to have a themer past the revealer, so I was initially confused by uncovering ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

GIN + VERMOUTH + ICE = DRY MARTINI It's pretty unusual to have a themer past the revealer, so I was initially confused by uncovering OLIVER TWIST after I thought the puzzle was already over. But I like getting surprised — how many times does a puzzle give you a second a-ha moment?

Please sir. Olive 'r twist?

I think what the clue for OLIVER TWIST is getting at is that a DRY MARTINI can be garnished by an OLIVE (‘r = or) TWIST. It took some self-convincing to believe a bartender would pronounce it as "(do you want an) olive ‘r twist?". It's such a nice feeling to get an unexpected a-ha moment though, that I gave it the thumbs-up.

With hidden words puzzles, I like consistency — it would have been great if each of GIN, VERMOUTH, and ICE had been hidden the same way. But finding VER MOUTH inside RIVER MOUTH is a nice discovery, and it's hard (impossible?) to break I CE or IC E at the end of a phrase. So I give that a pass too.

That READE/IDRIS crossing is going to be tough for some, and I sympathize. I'm a huge fan of IDRIS Elba, as he starred in "The Wire" and one of my favorite movies in recent history, "Pacific Rim." But has he made it big, to the point where he's "important enough" to expect NYT solvers to know him, even if the crossings are nebulous? I don't know about that.

I EVER sticks out as the most inelegant entry, more so because it's around that READE/IDRIS crossing. Difficulties are bound to arise when you have so much overlap between themers — the TINI of DRY MARTINI over IVERT of OLIVER TWIST in this case.

I was confused by the AMA clue, and the AJA crossing also felt a touch unfair. I like that AMA (ask me anything) was clued with a fresh feel (it's usually clued to the American Medical Association), but I don't think solvers should be expected to know the 40-year old Steely Dan album without fair crossings.

But a strong construction everywhere else, and a surprising second revealer that was almost genius.

1
S
2
T
3
E
4
E
5
P
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P
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A
9
A
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R
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F
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0120 ( 24,179 )
Across Down
1. Soaks so as to extract flavor : STEEPS
7. Late-night host before Carson : PAAR
11. Fare for the toothless : PAP
14. "Clearly Different" eye care chain : PEARLE
15. Aunt of Prince William : ANNE
16. Sénat accord : OUI
17. Like some top-quality kitchen oil : EXTRAVIRGIN
19. Org. originally known as the National Congress of Mothers : PTA
20. Sci-fi visitors : ETS
21. Cross-dressing Streisand character : YENTL
22. Arsenal stock : AMMO
24. Refusing to listen : DEAF
26. Delta locale : RIVERMOUTH
29. "Loot" playwright Joe : ORTON
31. Word abbreviated on fight cards : VERSUS
32. Branch out : RADIATE
37. Slangy rebuttal to 65-Across : AINT
38. Exchange program for preschoolers? : DIAPERSERVICE
41. Help for the puzzled : HINT
42. Adopts, as a stray : TAKESIN
43. Treat, as table salt : IODIZE
45. Schnapps flavoring : PEACH
49. Cocktail made by combining the ends of 17-, 26- and 38-Across : DRYMARTINI
54. Battle of Normandy town : STLO
55. Passed with ease : ACED
56. Charles who wrote "Peg Woffington" : READE
58. Unedited, as footage : RAW
59. Online Q&A session : AMA
60. Dickens classic ... and, phonetically, two garnishes for a 49-Across? : OLIVERTWIST
63. Place for pickles : JAR
64. Fall clearance item? : RAKE
65. "Quite correct" : ITISSO
66. Nativity scene beast : ASS
67. Declare : AVER
68. Some decaf orders : SANKAS
1. Brand of skimpy swimwear : SPEEDO
2. One who might type "OMG" or "CYA" : TEXTER
3. Bothers no end : EATSAT
4. Veer off course : ERR
5. Ump's call after "Time!" : PLAY
6. Break off completely : SEVER
7. Fifth installment of a miniseries : PARTV
8. Con man's scheme : ANGLE
9. DiFranco who created Righteous Babe Records : ANI
10. Label again, as a file : RENAME
11. Top 40 fare : POPMUSIC
12. Pitch-correcting audio processor : AUTOTUNE
13. With 44-Down, "Butterfly" Golden Globe winner : PIA
18. Common pasta suffix : INI
23. Deposits of glacial debris : MORAINES
25. Temporarily : FORATIME
27. Many KOA patrons : RVERS
28. "The buck stops here" prez : HST
30. Tennis ball fuzz : NAP
33. Stave off : DETER
34. Tax planner's recommendation, for short : IRA
35. The first "A" of 59-Across : ASK
36. Plumbing joint : TEE
38. Scenes in shoeboxes, say : DIORAMAS
39. Vehicles for the Unsers : INDYCARS
40. Big wheel : VIP
41. Went underground : HID
44. See 13-Down : ZADORA
46. Under threat : ATRISK
47. Top-shelf : CLASSA
48. Guides for D.I.Y.'ers : HOWTOS
50. Toddler's wheels : TRIKE
51. "When will ___ learn?" : IEVER
52. Lassie's turndown : NAE
53. "The Wire" actor ___ Elba : IDRIS
57. James who sang "At Last" : ETTA
59. Steely Dan album of 1977 : AJA
61. Where many people solve crosswords, for short : LAV
62. Successfully woo : WIN

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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