I’ve always been a competent cook but never a good one, and that arrangement suited me fine because the world is full of really good cooks, dozens of whom will deliver unto my home all manner of chicken and noodle preparations for like $12 a bag. I’ve long secretly suspected I had it somewhere deep within me to become a medium-skilled chicken noodlist myself but never felt compelled to test that theory, which makes it just like my suspicions of latent talents for languages and tennis. I can cook myself simple stews and tell myself grandiose lies, and Five Spices House is right around the corner either way.
Although I’ve never been too busy to cook, I used to have a couple other things to accomplish between first coffee and first beer—get dressed, go to work, interact with people to whom I’ve not proposed marriage—but these plagued days I cook all the damn time because what else am I going to do, finally learn how to conjugate lay?, and as such I’ve become more willing to dabble in some of the allegedly better practices for food and drink preparation that I’d previously considered just long enough to dismiss. This last part is important, because dismissiveness isn’t the same as disdain: I never hated the notion of soaking dry beans, I just refused to seriously entertain it, because that sounds even more grueling than opening canned beans that lack the decency of a pull-tab, though now we’re trafficking in double-ended conjecture because I’ve never done that, either. But alas, here I sit with more sunlight every day yet the same Covid-19 antibody count I was born with, so it’s entirely plausible that I will cook yeasted bread before I’m freed, although that got less likely yesterday when I learned Irish soda bread is inflated by baking soda and buttermilk rather than, say, yeast and potato-flavored pop.
I don’t mind a kitchen project. I’ll pickle the odd vegetable, throw some fruit in a jug of rum and wait a week, microwave a burrito at midnight and eat it over the sink in the dark while trying not to awaken any witnesses or get too much sour cream in my armpit hair, that sort of thing. And now that time’s been removed as an object, the missions I’ll undertake are limited only by the usual shortages of skill and stand mixer. I tend to get a bit more ambitious with liquid foods, particularly those that have been clinically proven to treat back pain, which brings us to the first thing I drank last week, a medicinal Manhattan at about 9 o’clock Wednesday night.
I know I’ve bragged before that sometimes I don’t drink on weekdays, and last week was setting up to be a whole string of dry times, but then I went and got one of them kettlebell deals and fucked my back all up by asking it to perform outrageous feats such as swaying back and forth for a bit and then bending over. I pulled these sick stunts in the morning and felt things tightening up over the course of the day, throughout which I tried nontraditional healing methods like heat and ibuprofen and dejected acceptance before finally filling my standing prescription for the only thing that ever really works, a six-ounce Manhattan.
This particular Manhattan, like most of the ones I make at home, was the boring and perfect pairing of Rittenhouse Rye and Dolin vermouth, plus small squirts of Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters. Old Overholt is a nice rye too, and cheap; I really wanted to prefer the newish bonded version to Rittenhouse, but I don’t. High West is fine also. The main things about Rittenhouse are it’s good and cherry-peppery, 100 proof, screw-top, $30, and wholly unaffiliated with that Wisconsin murder dipshit. As for the vermouth, they tell me Dolin’s good and I’ve never had cause to disagree.
Two things set this Manhattan apart from my typical homework: it was six ounces (four whiskey, two wine), because insurance covers a double when it’s for medicinal purposes, and it had a giant block of ice floating in the middle, because a couple weeks ago I got a rubber ice cube tray that turns out the big four-ouncers, and while I don’t typically ice my Manhattans, one of these bricks was indicated for keeping a pharmaceutical-grade drink cold but minimally diluted for long enough to administer the entire dose
The cocktail ice discourse always seemed dorky and joyless to me, so I just used whatever the freezer spit out. It’s not that I couldn’t appreciate that different shapes and sizes melt at different rates or whatever they do, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care. I always thought it was cool when I ordered a drink and it came with a big ice orb or little pellets or any other bit of frozen-water flair, but I never considered that my business at home.
But since the end of the pandemic is coming into sight, it’s time to wrap up all our various self-improvement projects (such as getting better at putting ice in drinks) in time to live like absolute filthy fucking animals; yes I know we’ve done that for the past year, but in our glorious middle-distant future we can all do it together in the good way that requires proper bathing and vaccination, and that means you’re all coming over for drinks, and I will ice you up right when that fine time comes.
I chased the Manhattan with a couple cans of Jack’s Abby Sunny Ridge, their seasonal Czech-style pilsner that I recommend very highly. It’s Emily’s favorite pilsner and it’s probably in my top five; we’ll have a big two-person pilsner party next weekend to celebrate spring and get back to you with our official findings. Until then, drink Sunny Ridge and make huge ice cubes.
While that dipshit did indeed murder his way through southeast Wisconsin, I must point out that he was brought here from Illinois by his mommy, who is also a dipshit.