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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Belly Up: Adult Beverages

By Tom

I wasn't there, but this past week my good friend in New York went to a cocktail place on Hudson Street called Employees Only and had one of my favorite cocktails, a Manhattan.

Cocktails are something that sadly have gone out of fashion, I think. LA isn't really a big drinking town, since you pretty much have to drive. Mixed drinks when you see them are usually some sort of infused thing, or something winking like a "lemon drop", served in a martini glass the size of a bathtub and consumed by a "Real Housewife". I've had one, and I will admit the first sip is marvelous, when it's icy cold. By the third sip it's not so cold and tastes like cough syrup. This is I think true of almost any cocktail shaken over ice and served straight-up. If you rent an old movie where people are drinking, the martinis are served in tiny glasses no doubt to keep the drink cold. At Musso & Franks, the Hollywood restaurant that's been serving them since prohibition was repealed, your martini comes in a wee little glass, with a glass flacon containing the rest of the cocktail sitting in a bed of crushed ice. Two of them and you're done for. Trust me, I've been there...

I love Manhattans (and Manhattan for that matter). There's something about the combination of the harsh bourbon and the sweet vermouth that just says that they were made to be together. It's a drink that you want to dress up for, or at least put on a jacket. It's the perfect sort of thing to have before a retro-fabulous dinner: Oysters Rockefeller, Caesar salad, asparagus and a really nice steak. As a matter of fact I used to have that exact menu with my Manhattan at the Old Bob Burns restaurant in Santa Monica back in the 90's before it closed. It was quintessential Old Hollywood: dark paneling, a smokers lounge, a piano player and classic California food. Those oysters and that steak helped soak up some of that Manhattan. In the interest of keeping my waistline and my cholesterol numbers lower than my zip code I didn't go often, but when I did go I enjoyed.

These days of course those places are few and far between. Now the places are all polished concrete and artisinal lettuce and for the most part I'm drinking white wine if I'm drinking at all. Two glasses is an event. But one of these days I think I'm going to seek out someplace to have a Manhattan and a steak, maybe at Musso & Franks. Who wants to come?

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Blogger Maggie O'Boyle said...

I think perfumes and fine alcohols light up the same pleasure centers of the brain. Not only does the Manhattan taste wonderful it smells like something you'd like to put on your pulse points. Tom, don't forget the cognac after the steak.

1:48 AM EDT  
Blogger marsha said...

Me me me!!!!! Since my DH passed away, 2 1/2 years ago, I haven't had an evening out like this. I miss them (and him) terribly.

8:27 AM EDT  
Blogger queen_cupcake said...

I'll come along! I used to love a Manhattan, back in the day. Later, it was a former employer's favorite cocktail and I associated it with him. He wore so much Old Spice that it would come at you in gusts whenever he spoke. Maybe I could reclaim it...

9:52 AM EDT  
Anonymous Karen G said...

Love Manhattans..that's my winter cocktail. I make mine with rye whiskey instead of bourbon. Delicious and so fragrant! Would love more *adult beverage* posts from you...

12:28 PM EDT  
Anonymous ElizabethC said...

Try a Manhattan made with Carpano Antica vermouth. Amazing!!! We are very luck in Seattle to have a couple of wonderful cocktail bars (such as Zig Zag Cafe). I think there is a strong connection between an enjoyment of beautiful scents and an enjoyment of beautiful flavors (food and drinks). I just recently had a drink made for me that reminded me of Bulgari black perfume (had a touch of smokey Laphroaig in it!

3:42 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I agree: cocktails and perfume do hit the same parts of the brain..

6:25 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


you should have one!

6:25 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


you really should take them back!

6:26 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


It's my winter cocktail as well! And oddly, the one fy friend had in NYC was made with rye. I'll have to try that one..

6:27 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'm going to seek out that vermouth!

6:28 PM EDT  
Anonymous maggiecat said...

Oh, I'd love to have adult conversation (preferably about fragrances) adn adukt beverages - and get dressed up to do it! It's funny - my husband, who dislikes perfume as a rule, loves fine scotch and can talk about its scent, taste, etc, quite enthusiastically. He had an "aha" moment when I tolkd him that he talsk about scotch the way I talk about perfumes. Chacun a sointerotrn gout...

8:40 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


good answer!

9:19 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Tom, I don't think I have ever had a Manhattan, but you make it sound so good I may just go for it next time I have the opportunity!

12:14 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think you will enjoy it!

11:53 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes! and we can also have a delicious manhattan or two at the bar inside the inwood theatre in dallas. old-time setting, great bartenders, tasty drinks. too bad i moved south to houston!!


1:57 PM EDT  

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