Monday, November 24, 2008

And the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths, and carp and anchovies...

In Saturday's WSJ, Eric Felten had a piece on Thanksgiving cocktails that included a tale of a truly prodigious feast (sub req):

For a while, the cocktail did have its proper place in the progression of the Thanksgiving feast. In 1893, the New York Times ran a delightful piece about the challenge traveling vaudevillians had trying to get a decent Thanksgiving dinner out in the boondocks. The only place actors could find a full holiday meal -- and one served quickly enough to be eaten between shows -- was in the theater-district hotels of New York.

A reporter found one such performer, his face still made up from the matinee performance at the Fifth Avenue Theatre, gobbling his dinner at the nearby Coleman House. The man ate oysters, pompano, sweetbreads, turkey with cranberry sauce and gravy, beef tenderloin with spinach and potatoes, duck, a partridge and, finally, cheese, mince pie and ice cream. Along the way, this Everest of a meal was washed down with a succession of wines -- sauterne, Margaux, Mouton Burgundy and Champagne.

And yet the man had also found room in his capacious gullet for liquor, drinks that had their proper place in the meal. The first order of business, before a single oyster was slurped, was a Manhattan. And that cocktail, with its broad and deep flavors of rye whiskey and sweet vermouth, is still a fine way to get in the mood for Thanksgiving dinner. Having had his Manhattan, the actor didn't return to the hard stuff until after his coffee, when he called for brandy dashed with noyeaux and maraschino liqueurs. He may have been a glutton, but he had the proper form and timing of his drinks down.

Anyone who's ever shared Thanksgiving Day with JB Doubtless would draw the obvious comparisons. JB likewise always is able to save space for a cocktail or three between his ravenous vittle scarfing.

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