In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking
Now Heaven knows...
Manhattan...that most central and glittering of jewels in the crown of New York City! Opulence, style, class, abandon...
The definition of cosmopolitan!
Even today we associate the island with the glamorous, the eccentric, the fast, the stylish and over-the-top. In the Diesel Era (and the Jazz Age) this was no different. It came to symbolize the excesses of the Roaring Twenties, that time of flash and sparkle when Flying Flappers and Dapper Dans lit up Times Square in a way never before seen on Earth.
And for tonight's fare, we celebrate this island of glamor and excess with the man who defined Broadway and a drink that bears the island's name.
First, our music: if there was a single man who could be the poster boy for Manhattan in the Jazz Age, who could define the gay abandon and glitzy celebration of America's first social and sexual revolution, it would probably be Cole Porter.
Cole Porter would become famous as a playwrite and lyricist, crafting songs which would define a generation and gain lives way beyond the stage where they originated. Over the decades his works would become mainstays of the most legendary of Jazz musicians from Louis Armstrong to Ella Fitzgerald to Frank Sinatra. To be a Jazz musician was to cover Porter.
But more than just a musician, Porter's life of lavish, over-the-top excess and glamor would come to symbolize the "high life" of the era, that great urban cosmopolitan life that the masses aspired to. Almost openly gay in an era when "sodomy" could destroy your career or even see you arrested (he had a sexless, but far from loveless marriage of convinience with his beloved Linda Lee Thomas), Porter relished in the glitz of the electric age, throwing lavish and hedonistic parties that attracted the elites of America and Europe. And his music came to embody this lifestyle, with lyrics that covered such unthinkably controversial topics as sex, infidelity, drugs, prostitution, and all manner of unforgivable sins, all couched in clever, witty entendre-filled symbolism that had even mainstream America whistling along.
For tonight's performance, Performing one of Porter's most famous pieces, we have another legend of the Jazz Age, the incomparable and deservingly legendary Ella Fitzgerald, whose siren's voice defies definition. Ella here sings the title piece from Porter's play Anything Goes, a piece which speaks loudly to the excesses of the time (you may remember it - sung in Chinese! - from the opening of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). With her indescribable ability to be both innocent and risque, both Betty and Veronica simultaneously, perhaps only she truly gives this song its due:
And since we're talking Manhattan, here's a drink called the Manhattan, a Diesel Era intoxicant whose glamor and style rivals that of Cocktail Great the Martini. Sweet, sultry, spicy, and seductive, the Manhattan Cocktail is the perfect accompaniment to tonight's muscial legends. It's also the perfect sweet but sophisticated "starter cocktail" for those hoping to move beyond the fluffy world of Fuzzy Navels and Appletinis.
1 part Whiskey (Bourbon or Rye...or substitute Brandy)
1/2 part Sweet Vermouth
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Shake over Ice, pour into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a Maraschino cherry and/or a twist of lemon.