LAND PARK, Sacramento, Calif., USA - What was looking like an extremely quiet Thanksgiving broke wide open mid-morning with the arrival of son Dylan today - and then nephew Alex Schwartz, shortly thereafter.
The Admiral and I had planned on it being just the two of us - both quite immersed in packing and getting ready for our Mexico sojourn - when Dylan called from his Berkeley digs and said he would like to join the family fete.
And because he is heavy into cycling now, he called his cousin Alex (who lives in Davis, Calif. a half-dozen miles away) so they could do a Turkey Day bicycle ride. Alex could not stay for dinner - he and his lady friend were hosting her father... but we almost talked him into it.
All the years I was growing up in Lakewood, New York, the unmistakeable signal of Thanksgiving was the appearance of pitchers of Manhattan cocktails, concocted by my Uncle, Howie McAvoy. These lethal drinks were sooooo potent that one was plenty, two had you singing Good Night Irene at the top of your lungs and three, well, three usually meant lots of aspirin the next day.
For Howie, more than one meant a reoccurence of his gout.
Everyone in the family had a least a sip of a drink - sometimes more. It was one of the few times of the year that my grandmother would wear a big grin on her face.
Manhattan, served straight up
Howie's recipe was 3 parts blended whiskey, two parts sweet vermouth, a dash of bitters and a few drops of Maraschino cherry juice. The ingredients were mixed together in a pitcher, poured over ice, and then poured into a stylish cocktail glass.
What a drink.
I've laid off the things for nearly 20 years, preferring wine. But one of these Thanksgivings, I think I'll break out the bottle of Four Roses whiskey and some sweet vermouth and toast to Uncle Howie and the hundreds of others I have introduced to the McAvoy Manhattan over the years.
Might be worth risking some gout.
Here's today's video episode of the cycling adventures and our modest dinner: