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.