The Manhattan is my drink. It's what I want if it's been a loooong
day. The floors in my house have been baptized by more than one Manhattan (after more than one Manhattan). It's what I order if I feel like a cocktail and I'm somewhere that doesn't really do cocktails. It's the one I always go back to, the old standby.
Growing up, when my family made a pilgrimage to Ted Drewes, my dad always got the same thing: a large blueberry concrete. Every time. He never even looked at the menu. How can you get the same thing over and over when there are so many different choices? I would ask. He always gave me the same tired line about it not being broken. At the time, I heard in that answer an admission that, yes, there might be something out there he would like better, but he'd have to try many things he would like less, and why not just leave well enough alone?
What I once dismissed as comfort and familiarity has emerged as the wisdom to return to that which has held you in good stead. Now I understand the pull of depth over breadth. Who wants to be the jack of all trades, master of none? Who wants to have many acquaintances and no one to trust, to travel to many places but never be home? The first time you kiss someone new, all you notice is the newness, the way they compare to others. When you kiss someone for the hundredth, the thousandth time, you notice the subtleties: a little stubble, the lingering scent of coffee on their breath, a flicker of hesitation.
Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: The Manhattan is a Classic Cocktail. If you are a lady wearing a stole and delicate little gloves or a gentleman in a skinny tie and a fedora, fine, but this homage is not for you. It's for my grandpa -- and probably yours, too -- who would be amused, if not bewildered, to find out his drink has become hip. No matter how long-established, the primary appeal of many of these "classic" drinks is novelty. In a few years, most of the fizzes and flips will be forgotten again. Not so the Manhattan. This drink had a loyal following long before Donald Draper ever put his pretty lips to one. It is the opposite of novelty, the old standby.