Tag Archives: manhattan

Friday Night Gratitude


Tonight is truly fantastic. Husband is out with a mostly well-behaved friend and both of my children seem to be asleep. Sure, Princess expects me up in the chair in her room but I am sure she understands when I say “I’ll be up after I finish the laundry and get a couple of other things done,” that I actually mean put clothes in the dryer then make a manhattan and sit on my front porch (shown in the picture) awhile.

Right now I’m drinking said manhattan and watching Friday night unfold on my street. I live in a house that was built in 1917, and most of the houses on my street were built within 10 years of that. In my neighborhood, the homes are close together and close to the street with large backyards. Some people might not consider it the best neighborhood, but tonight, already a little bourbon in, I think it’s awesome.

The smell of Dreft detergent (one of those “babies smell so good” tricks) is drifting up from my own dryer vent and it mixes with the citronella candle burning on my porch. I can hear the clatter of dishes being washed next door and imagine the 3 generations of Italians that live there had a good meal tonight. People are walking dogs and children all over the neighborhood.

At least that’s what was happening. I was just going to tell a quick story about my neighborhood, but here’s what happened instead.

So I’m typing away at the previous paragraphs and notice that Louie, who us supposed to be my indoor cat, is in the middle of the street. (He tends to take advantage of the open door while I’m carrying Buster and herding Princess.) He’s all black except for a white tuft on his neck and belly so I actually just noticed a weird shadow in the twilight.

I heard a car zooming up the street in his direction and yelled, “Louie!”

A bit of background on Louie- I adopted him after an acquaintance who’d become a Facebook friend seemed extremely distraught when she had to surrender him to a shelter for medical reasons. I’d wanted to adopt a cat for some time, and this situation seemed perfect- already neutered, good with kids, former owner who would delight in seeing pics on facebook. And I’d still get the good feeling from freeing up a space at the animal shelter.

I went to meet Louie and he made it clear he’d be coming to live with us. He was gorgeous. Sleek, shiny, reminiscent of what I imagine those royal Egyptian cats were like. And he had personality, too. I was one of 5 applications for him, I think.

If he could have spoken when I first met him, I think his directive would have been along these lines:
Placing his right paw upon my shoulder and looking into my eyes, (he really did do that) he would have said, “You, woman, shall take me home. From my arrival on, I will rule your home and all of its occupants.”

Then, as he moved his paw to gently, without claws, stroke my face (he really did that, too) he would have said, “now go forth, woman, and prepare. Purchase the finest imitation fishing rods to which catnip-filled shapes can be attached. Prepare your home with furniture that will accomodate my claws. Provide me with only round-shaped dry food or soft food soaked in gravy. Procure a large plastic box and fill it with sweet-smelling dirt. In exchange, I will place my feces and urine in said box. You may rake these gifts and place them in plastic bags to preserve for future generations as my previous owner did. That is my promise to you.”

He’s kept up his end of the bargain ever since. While my husband says he dislikes him, he’s found his bat-in-the-house-cornering skills useful and appreciates some of his other habits like bee killing.

Anyway, back to tonight. After I called his name, Louie ran out of the street with plenty of time to spare and seemed to ignore me.

A few moments later, I hear a lot of squeaking and thought that the bats must be out eating bugs.

Shortly after, Louie, forever the charmer, saunters on the porch. Apparently, he appreciated my life-saving yell. Dangling from his mouth, by its tail, was a gift for me. A mouse, still alive and squeaking (he must have really appreciated me because I usually just get the carcass on my doormat as he reserves the joy of killing it for himself.) In spite my fervent pleas otherwise, he was determined to bring it right to me.

I quickly backed off the porch and, looking confused and a little hurt, he let the mouse go and it was running and squeaking back and forth on my porch.

By then, my next-door neighbor had arrived. (He is husband of the middle generation of the aforementioned Italians.) All he saw was me backing off my porch excitedly saying something like, “Louie, no- I mean thank you, but no. I don’t need a gift. I don’t want it. No, stop, no! Get away from me! Can’t you just let it go? Let it go!!!”.

My would-be good samaritan neighbor had a good laugh when he saw the mouse and realized Louie was my cat and not a jealous ex-boyfriend.

So that is why that perfect seat on my porch next to my manhattan is empty in the picture above. This guy here- Louie, bearer of gifts of gratitude.

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I Help My Husband with Work Sometimes

Woodford Reserve Manhattan Contest

Yup, that’s a bacon-wrapped cherry. It’s good to be me.

My husband is a salesman for a liquor distributor. He approached me a couple of weeks ago because they were having trouble finding a judge for the local portion of the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience contest. Would I be willing to do it? Hmmmm…..

A few years ago I gave up most vodka, gin and rum because the concoctions they’re a part of are typically sugary sweet or martinis that are strictly for getting drunk (which I prefer to believe happens only by accident.)

Enter whiskey. It’s got a kick that lets you know what you’re messing with but that has good flavor. Hard to find something to drink it with, though, and drinking it on the rocks seems too hard-core (but is a great treat once in a while.)

Two years ago, at a work event with my husband, we were having pre-dinner cocktails and most folks had martinis. I decided to try something different and ordered a Manhattan. One sip and I was done. I told my husband that it was obvious the drink had been created for me. Who knew?

A Manhattan is a drink I can have at home at the end of a day of mommying and instantly feel sexy and adult again, even if I am wearing Hello Kitty pajama bottoms with sweatshirt and eating pizza for dinner. When I’m out, it’s a great accessory to any nice dress (people will notice it before they notice your clutch, I promise) and a fun and yummy way to wait for a table at a nice restaurant.

If you’ve never had a Manhattan, here’s why you should order one:

  • The flavor is unmistakable. It is all at once sophisticated, smooth, warm, comfortable, simple and wild. It doesn’t have any typical holiday flavors, but it tastes the way the Christmas feels.
  • Served up, or even on the rocks, it is honey brown and usually accompanied by a delightful cherry and/or an orange peel. It is Betty-Draper-in-Rome sexy (although I think she orders a gimlet there.)
  • It’s hard to lose track of how many Manhattans you’ve had. Every sip reminds you of its potency.
  • While it is regaining popularity, it is still occasional enough to be a conversation starter.
  • People are still surprised when women drink Manhattans. Maybe because whiskey is supposed to be a guy thing? Anyway, I think drinking a Manhattan exudes confidence, good taste and strength.

A Manhattan is so wonderful in its basic recipe: whiskey (I do prefer bourbon, specifically Woodford Reserve coincidentally – this isn’t just because they sponsored the contest. It’s because it is hands-down the most robust, grown-up bourbon on the market and perfectly melds with the other ingredients), sweet vermouth, and some bitters (I like 5 or so dashes of orange.) Read The Manhattan Project, an article by Gary Regan that tells the mysterious history of the drink and discusses its variations and merits. He hits the nail on the head when he explains:

“It’s the job of the vermouth to soothe the savage soul of the whiskey in a Manhattan cocktail, but it must allow the spirit to be heard, too.”
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/wine/article/The-Manhattan-project-A-bartender-spills-his-2502224.php#ixzz2CllHGsAP

Back to my husband’s request. I told him if he really needed me I’d move some things around in my schedule if he’d find a sitter. (Of course, in my head I was jumping up and down and doing the happy dance. I had to reschedule folding laundry and watching DVRed Mad Men.) I’m not really sure why he didn’t just call this a holiday gift, but that’s his loss.

Judging was a little tougher than I thought (although even more enjoyable than expected) because it is tough to improve on such a distinguished standard.

The Connecticut bartenders that competed last night did a great job of adding their own twist on a classic. Each contestant worked hard and got really creative. Some of the more exceptional ingredients I saw included pumpkin, apple cider, hard cider, Tahitian vanilla bean, homemade strawberry vermouth, chocolate bitters, jalepenos, and peanut butter. There were probably more that I’m forgetting, but those stood out for me. The best cocktails, to me, were the simplest ones that kept the integrity of the Manhattan with just a subtle twist or surprise.

The whole night was amazing. I didn’t get to see the drinks being made or know who was making them, but I can imagine the work that went into some of them. They were presented beautifully, with garnishes like chocolate covered cherries, cinnamon sticks, citrus peel twists, citrus peel chunks, and even bacon (see the photo.)

I still don’t know what the winning drink was (my husband was tired and I’d just tasted 19 Manhattans, so we headed out early.) Hats off to all the contestants. I was honored to enjoy every sip last night. I hope to see some of those concoctions on local menus whether they won or not.


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