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When I picture my perfect Memorial Day — meaning the Monday proper, after most of us have had our share of barbecue beers and whatnot — what I’d really like to do on that day is sit on a porch, in a nice, big, comfy chair (rocking, or Adirondack — I’m not picky) and spend the afternoon reading a good book and sipping on something wonderful.
The key part of that scenario is the porch. I love porches. Back decks are for frat boys; porches are for ladies. Patios are for Ice Storm-era outdoor key parties; porches are for timeless, halcyon-hazy relaxation and reflection. Stoops are for selling your old shit; porches are, gloriously, for doing as little shit as possible.
I’d made some iced tea earlier this week. I’d made it for Sean’s Uncle Kit, who had dinner at our place while he was in town for work and who doesn’t drink. I made an iced white tea infused with lemon and spiked with ginger water. (Ginger water = what’s left over when you boil fresh ginger to make candied ginger. I made a lot of candied ginger in the fall and saved the water in Popsicle molds.) It was so good that I couldn’t wait for my teetotaler to leave so I could use it to whip up a cocktail.
Time moves more slowly in Canada. I move more slowly with child. Put ‘em together and what’ve you got? A 35-day month, but one that’s worth the wait, for at the end of it lies the Month-Old Manhattan.
When I first mixed this drink in May, having gotten the recipe’s inspiration from a restaurant‘s cocktail menu in St. Louis, I commended its use of old-school rye whiskey instead of bourbon as a base and marveled at the inclusion of curacao, which gave it a more playful (but still not juvenile) flavor. I’m paraphrasing myself here, but I described its unaged taste as appealingly scratchy-smooth-sweet on the palate.
Well; what a difference a five-week month makes. After spending that span of time sealed tightly in a Mason jar, the Month-Old Manhattan now boasts a shooting-out-of-the-gate upfrontness, like it couldn’t wait to get down somebody’s gullet, pronto. What may surprise you most, though, is which parts of its original profile are doing the tastebud-grabbing and the ass-kicking. This cocktail is, first and foremost, orange. Like, woah, orange. Like, oh!-range. And that’s despite that fact that I’d subbed rail-quality triple sec for top-shelf curacao.
Damn you, St. Louis! Damn your exploding cocktail scene, three-and-a-half years after I move away. Damn you and your 150-libations-long cocktail menus and your Tales of the Cocktail award noms, your Ted Kilgores, your envy-inducing, membership-only cocktail boites that just happen to be housed in the most awesomest speakeasy-style restaurant space EVER.
And damn the recent cover story in Alive Magazine (a local lifestyle rag for chicks with meticulously maintained blonde highlights that I make fun of a lot in my head, but still) listing the top 20 cocktails in the city, which just so happened to be the current issue when I swung through town a few weeks ago, reeling as I customarily do from the timewarp-mindfuck that comes from revisiting my once-hometown, coupled with the fact that I’m still pregnant and
can’t shouldn’t really no damnit can’t drink anyway. You are killing me Saint Louis.
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Rye Perfect Manhattan
Rye used to be implied
When ordering Manhattans
Bourbon’s bastardized that, but it’s ok, bourbon; I love you, too.
I like to surprise people
By serving them a Manhattan
And then a rye perfect one.
Watch their faces as a new favorite drink is discovered!
Some people have a gift. They can create glorious cocktails and have a knack for dressing up traditional drinks so that they taste entirely new.
The proprietor of this blog is one of these wondrously inventive people. [Oh, pshaw. -- Ed.]
I am not.
Put me in a kitchen with a dozen random food items, and I can make something tasty on the fly. But with drinks, I tend toward tried and true recipes with little variation. I like Manhattans and martinis and the most daring I get is experimenting with a new gin. So when Rose invited me to write a guest post, I knew that I’d be seeking outside help. And my outside help happens to be a fantastic, outdated (sorry, I mean “vintage”) book that my boyfriend’s grandfather used to own: The Esquire Handbook for Hosts, published in 1949.