NEGRONI SBAGLIATO [nair-GROW-nee sbarg-LEE-ar-toh] - cocktail comprising Campari, sweet vermouth and prosecco [Literally 'wrong Negroni' in Italian after a Milan bar-owner added brut prosecco rather than gin to a client's Negroni.] Believe me, a Negroni sbagliato is a sippable piece of serendipity.
SABRAGE [SAY-bredge] - the act of opening a champagne bottle by quickly sliding a sword's dull edge down the neck [From German (dialect) Sabel - or sword] Who needs to pop a Veuve cork when sabrage is all the suaver?
ALPHONSE [al-FONCE] - the younger boyfriend of a wealthy or powerful older woman. [After the title character of Alexandre Dumas's 1872 novel, Monsieur Alphonse] One era's toyboy is another epoch's Alphonse.
MATEOTECHNY [MAT-ee-oh-TEK-nee] - a futile or unprofitable field of research [Greek: vain art/science] Cynics might view cryptic crosswords as mateotechny, failing to see how rewording they can be.
GREEBLE - elaborate details added to an object's surface so as to make it more visually intriguing - a common ruse applied to sci-fi props; also called a nurnie [Origin unknown] Lightsabres and spacecraft in the Star Wars films abound in greebles.
VINCULUM - horizontal line that divides a fraction; (in anatomy) any narrow structure joining two parts; a ligament [Latin: bond, from vincire to bind] Place numbers above and below a hyphen, and you make a vinculum.
THALWEG [TAHL-veg - or THARL-weg] - the line of fastest flow or deepest water along a river's course [From German valley-way] Along some riparian borders, a river's thalweg can determine which abutting nation owns what islands en route.
RANCIO [ran-SEE-oh] - nutty flavour peculiar to sherry and other fortified wines. [From Latin, rancidus - rancid, rotten] Next time you savour a Madeira, feel free to detect a rancio depth amid the leather and tobacco notes.
FLEHMEN [rhymes with 'stamen'] - response among male mammals when they detect particular female smells, typified by lip-curling and head-raising. [From Upper Saxony dialect, flemmen to look spiteful] A female pug's piddle will trigger a flehmen even within a male mastiff.
IRREDENTIST - person advocating the acquisition of territory that was once part of their own nation. [From Italian, irredentista, via the phrase 'Italia irredenta' - Italy unredeemed.] No surprise, given the historic scope of the Holy Roman Empire, that Italy is rife with irredentists.
CHADBAND - unctuous hypocrite [Named after the self-serving preacher of Dickens' Bleak House, 1853] Your typical yes-person is a latter-day chadband.
ROCAILLE [rock-EYE] - pebbles and shells used as ornamentation, especially within grottoes or fountains; moulded scrollwork of the 1700s that mimics water-worn stone [French 'pebble-work'] Rocaille is seen as an artful alternative to stucco or generic pebbledash.
Eight more clues that still puzzle me, half of them drawn from a Times book, published 2016.
On paper, I might have solved them, yet somehow their wordplay continues to gnaw me. What have I missed? A classical allusion? A bit of UK vernacular? Only your insight will ease my plight.
If you can see what I'm not seeing, let me know. How does each clue work? And can you craft your own clue for any of these same answers? Cheers.
1. Take away copper and half of lead from rear of toy? = MINUS [Times 11,800]
2. Duty that could be tinier possibly? = RESPONSIBILITY [Times 11,800]
3. Military ruler’s command to soldiers about bad error in the field = SHOGUN [Times 11,816]
4. Cover case before dispatching a dozen in box = SUM UP [Times book]
5. Networks = TOILS [Times book]
6. Fast runner often in form = HARE [Times book]
7. Cooler sort of house where shades may close on boy = PRISON [Times book]
8. Ape downs energy drink = MEAD [Sunday Times 1212]
BAGASSE [bah-GAS] - the leftover pulp from refined sugar cane, used as fuel or paper stock [From French via Spanish bagazo - dregs - from baga (husk), and further back, Latin's baca, or berry] You can't make sugar without generating a little bagasse.
MOULDY FIG - strict adherent of older jazz genres. [Origin unknown] Hepcats and beatniks are a tad too ad-lib for the trad-loving mouldy fig.
CHONMAGE [CHON-maij] - traditional topknot sported by sumo wrestlers and samurai warriors [Japanese] It's believed the chonmage (or 'mage') style arose in the 600AD period of Japanese history.
CHAULMOOGRA [chawl-MOO-gruh] - tree found India and SE Asia whose seed yields an oil valued for its treatment of leprosy. [From Bengali, cāul rice, plus mugrā hemp.] Modern medicine may have eclipsed the pharmacological allure of the chaulmoogra.
FEUILLETON [FULL-it-on] - newspaper segment devoted to lighter themes and entertainment; a novel published by instalments. [From French, feuillet (page), via feuille (leaf) - ultimately from Latin, folium] Wordwit, crosswords, Target and comic strips appear in the Nine-Fairfax feuilleton.
SCOPPERIL [SKOP-purr-uhl] - a spinning top; perforated bone serving as a button; folk name for a squirrel; slang for a hyperactive child. [From skoppa, Icelandic - to spin] Swigs of red cordial will convert any demur child into a turbocharged scopperil.
JUMENTOUS - smelling like horse urine [From Old French jument, originally Latin iumentum - beast of burden; pack animal] Home-brewers can admit to the odd jumentous potion in their quest for a craft elixir.