Linda Hull Larned, author of the year 1899’s The Hostess of To-day, suggested tea for a “five o clock function.” But she also provided a recipe for something more fun: a Manhattan! Which is ideal for a modern-day function taking place at 5 o’clock in the evening or, frankly, the morning. Some people get dogmatic about cocktails, which I think Linda would agree is unattractive and dated, so let’s not. Instead, below Linda’s recipe you’ll also find optional variations for the lazy, cheap people inside of all of us. So do take the ideas you like, ignore the ones you don’t, and mix to taste. But a glass of whiskey is always a good starting point.
Variations for the Lazy and/or Cheap Boozer
• A few liquor store guys told me Carpano Antica sweet vermouth is outstanding; one even said he’d spend $30 on it, and skimp on whiskey. I used Boizziere sweet vermouth, which is Italian but just cost me $9.99, and mixed it with Old Overholt Rye Whiskey.
• Although the Boker’s bitters Linda calls for is still around, it wasn’t among the more than 20 kinds I found at the kitchen supply store (among highly questionable flavors like “Sriracha” and “Burlesque”). I opted for Citrus Hella Bitters, mostly just because I used to date one of its founders. (In the end, he wasn’t the “Bra” to my “ngelina,” but how many guys can you say bounce back with the perfect amount of bitterness? This one did. That stuff is delicious.)
• Gum syrup is like a more complicated version of simple syrup, so I gave actually making it the same consideration Kim Zolciak gave to her music career. Instead, I added a dash of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, which is not just sweet, but more importantly a giant, pretty bottle to display in one’s kitchen. It’s not a necessity for this recipe, but I wouldn’t skip the cherries!