[ continued from yesterday ]
Laura loves my Manhattans. I make them in the proper, original fashion, with rye and not bourbon. I always keep a bottle of Templeton rye on hand (though Bulleit rye is a fine choice too), along with Dolin sweet vermouth, Peychaud's bitters and Luxardo cherries. I make a damn fine Manhattan, if I do say so.
Laura wasn't always a fan of the brown-liquor cocktail. I'd been drinking Manhattans and old-fashioneds for a few years but never managed to infect her with a taste for them. But then our friend Scott Smith foisted one of his Manhattans on her, and it was all over. The primacy of the Templeton Manhattan was cemented when we attended a documentary about the distillery's history at Mayne Stage in Chicago.
Like I say, I always keep these ingredients on hand. Always. So when Laura texted me last Thursday afternoon to ask Will you make me a manhattan tonight?, my response was an automatic Hell yes.
I picked up Laura from her train late that evening, went to the liquor cabinet, and pawed my way through the bottles. Puzzled. Where was the Templeton Rye? Where was the good vermouth? What on earth was going on? And how would I ever recover from the wounded, damaged look my wife gave me when I broke the confounding news that I couldn't deliver on my promise?
What on earth does this have to do with RAGBRAI, you may be asking yourself. Well, it dawned on me then that when our New York friends rolled back through Chicago on their way home from Iowa, I had made Manhattans for the whole gang. I'd used up all the rye and all the vermouth. In the meantime I'd failed to make a run for replenishments, and now it was too late to make it out to a good liquor store.
Laura was on the verge of never speaking to me again when memory offered me a sudden RAGBRAI-related glimmer of hope. "Wait!" I exclaimed. "My Target bottle!"
On our original drive west across Iowa to the start of RAGBRAI, Colin had picked up a bottle of Old Overholt rye for round-the-campfire consumption. That night he poured half the contents into an aluminum water bottle for safer transport as we rode. I had an extra aluminum water bottle too (Target-branded), so I volunteered to stash the rest of the rye in mine. When Laura and I left RAGBRAI early on Day 3, I offered my bottle to Colin. "You guys take it," he said. "You may need it." And indeed, Laura and I consumed much of it in our hotel rooms over the next two nights on the way back to Chicago. It wasn't Templeton, but at least it was handy.
Frantically I grabbed for the aluminum bottle, which after two weeks was still sitting out on the kitchen counter. "I think there's enough," I said, hefting the bottle. From the liquor cabinet I managed to dig out an older bottle of Martini & Rossi vermouth. Like the rye, it wasn't outstanding, but it would do, particularly when mixed with a little extra cherry juice from the Luxardo jar. The evening was saved. Thanks, RAGBRAI. At least you did one thing for me.
Oh, and happy birthday to me. What's that? Why, yes, I would like a nice Manhattan tonight, thanks. It's so thoughtful of you to offer.