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Monthly Archives: August 2013

One of my earliest memories of alcohol is going out to dinner with my grandparents to celebrate my grandpa getting some large commission, or closing escrow on a property, or who knows what else; I was young, and we were going to a ‘fancy’ restaurant.  The restaurant was old-school classy: dimly lit with dark wood and moose heads and ducks and wild boars mounted on the walls.  The kind of place that hit it’s peak in the 60’s, and has steadfastly held its ground.

   
My grandpa couldn’t remember the name of his favorite drink when the server came around.  My family has never been composed of drinkers, clearly.  The process went something like this:
 
Grandpa: Uh, it has bourbon and vermo-
Waiter: A Manhattan.
Grandpa: Yeah, that’s it.
 
A Manhattan.  Being very young, and growing up with a mother who discouraged alcohol so strongly that one would think it to be heroin heroin, I was amazed that alcohol could be mixed and named.  Until that point in my life, alcohol was beer, wine, and those mysterious brown bottles on the top shelf of my grandparent’s pantry that were neither of the prior.  I may have even known the words ‘Martini’ and ‘Brandy’.  And now, a Manhattan. 
 
When I was old enough to drink, I didn’t.  When I was a busser in a restaurant that was short on bartenders, I learned how to mix drinks that I had never tried before, and how to enjoy them.  And it was there that I found, buried in the pages of Old Mister Boston, the Manhattan. 
 
To this day, the Manhattan is still my favorite.  The Pimm’s Cup is great on a hot day, and a Bishop on a cold one, but the Manhattan still sits in a place of honor at the top of my cocktail menu that I keep saying I’ll print and start using at work someday.   The same work where, some years ago, a this slightly nervous busser was asked if he wanted to tend bar, and where my passion for these spirits was born.
 
In the next few days, I’ll post all things Manhattan; bourbon and maraschino spiced cherries and bacon infused ryes and white whiskeys and Benedictine and shrubs.  Keep your eyes peeled.

Today is the birthday of Alfred, Lord Tennyson (August 6, 1809-October 6 1892).  He held the position of Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland for a record forty-two years, from 1850 until his death in 1892. 

In 1833 the passing of his dear friend and fellow poet Arthur Henry Hallam prompted him to write In Memoriam A.H.H.  Tennyson wrote the poem over the course of seventeen years, and from it come the lines 

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
         I feel it, when I sorrow most;
         ‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
 
Tennyson also wrote ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade‘, a poem commemorating a failed charge of British Light Cavalry against heavily entrenched Russian forces during the Crimean War in 1854.  It is from this poem that we received the well known couplet ‘Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die‘.