1 across: Handy president hit on initial deficit, chiefly (5-5)
RC had deciphered this one early on in the piece simply from the cross clues, but we did not venture to write it in lest we be left with eggs on our faces given our lack of explanation. Sure, hit = ram, on initial = o, deficit = short which gives hit on initial deficit = ramos hort, but why does handy president = ramos horta (what’s with the handy more than anything) and why does chiefly = a?
18 down: Number on arctic sledge (8)
We had correctly surmised that on arctic sledge = narcotic, but then why does number = narcotic? Or is it number on arctic = narcotic and sledge = narcotic? What?
3 down: Thus drinking during break, one left wine cocktail (9, 5)
The best we could cup up with is break = gap to provide the justification for the happy direct clue, cocktail = singapore sling. Other than that, we had nothing for why thus drinking during break = singapore sling.