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The Costello to Bourbon’s Abbot

February 17, 2012

I may often paint my fellow Noblers as booze-fiending, loyal followers of the experiment but…Well that’s true. However, some of them can write…

I’m set in my ways.  I’ve been so used to drinking beer as an after-work wind-down.  It’s actually become a bit of a “habit” if you may, but recently something I’ve revisited has changed my outlook on the clichéd liquor drink after work.  In an effort to create a special Valentines Day dinner my lady and myself scoured the annals of Epicurious to find the perfect recipe that might add a delicious segment of our night.  While searching Epicurious I stumbled upon a delicious pasta dish that included a generous dash of sweet vermouth.  I was hoping this Epicurious dish would get my girl drunk enough to make her bi-curious, but that didn’t happen.  What did happen was the vermouth made a delicious cream sauce that went well with shrimp I was forced to de-vein, since she decided to buy fresh shrimp to save $4.  But while I was ripping the shit out of 30 shrimp the vermouth was staring me in the face.  I had a plan.  

The next night I sat down with some Gentleman Jack (because I’m obviously a gentle man) and that sweet sweet vermouth and made a Manhattan that reminded me of a bygone era when men drank whisky on goddamn weeknights…and weekdays without letting anyone tell them otherwise.  I’ve watched enough Mad Men to know that a highball contains enough gravitas to make a man act on bold thoughts he would rather keep to himself in less-manly situations, so it sounded seductive enough to try out.  As I stood at the “bar area” I have been allotted in the kitchen I had to think to myself “Am I being a bitch?”  Why must I add a mixer (although it has alcohol) to a refined bourbon.  Here is my thinking: So the cocktail didn’t exist until Prohibition since all the proletariat could find was bathtub gin and basement distilled whisky to lubricate their nights.  They were forced to mix these toxics liquors with other beverages to create a palatable cocktail that would get them sufficiently drunk.  In this day and age corporations and (still) basement distillers are churning out delicious variations on American classics, specifically bourbons and whiskeys, which proves that we live in much better times, at least for our palates.  But why add vermouth to a drink that is so refined it is given the name “Gentleman”? I’ll tell you why. 

The Manhattan is a drink that can only be defined by the experience (but I will try with words, which will surely fail).  The rush of liquor upon each sip is tantalizing.  It hits you hard and leaves you a bit confused because you realize you have a fairly large glass of this concoction that is currently shocking your mouth that you must finish, because, well, you’re a man.  A second later it finishes with an amazing smoothness that can only be lent to the interplay between the vermouth and bourbon.  It’s velvety but with enough bite to remind you that you did not fuck around when you made that drink.  Vermouth is the Costello to Bourbon’s Abbot.  For the young kids, it’s the Charlie Murphy to the bourbon’s Dave Chapelle.  It just makes it that much sweeter.   Who’s on first?  I’ll fucking tell you.  It’s sweet vermouth.

- Dan Sicina

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