On My Moment as a Girly Girl and the Anatomy of the Perfect Danhattan
This weekend is the first time in years that neither Dan nor I have any responsibilities…nothing, nada…well, except that I have to practice. After an intense summer at the theater, he doesn’t have any shows this weekend. I don’t have any performances or school responsibilities yet this season, and, with Mom’s passing, I am no longer a care-giver…a whole new paradigm for me. This is unchartered territory for us, and we are anxious to explore our new life together.
We decided that today would be given over to whatever we wanted to do in the moment. We did yoga in the morning, and had a wonderful lunch at The Fish Market downtown, and then Dan surprised me by taking me to get a manicure while he got a pedicure. My sister is the girly-girl of our family, always impeccably coiffed, nails done beautifully – in contrast, my nails are short (for clarinet playing) and devoid of any color, and my short hair rarely enjoys the benefits of being blow-dried. Maybe it should be, but I am always on the run, so it often just does as nature- and my wonderful hairdresser- intended. Today, in preparation for our belated beach trip next week, I had a French manicure done. It feels strange, but also nice to be doing something for myself that I usually put off in place of another priority on my to-do list. Maybe some new traditions are in order.
Throughout the day, I have thought about how grateful I am for my sweet Dan. Dan makes everything better; the most humble grilled cheese sandwich becomes a culinary delight; outdoor lighting becomes a magical wonderland; the decks become adorned in a multitude of beautiful plants and flowers; every light in our home is on a dimmer to give extra special ambience. Every holiday, no matter how minor, becomes a chance to celebrate. Not one aspect of our home hasn’t been improved by my husband’s magical touch. Sometimes, this includes my favorite cocktail, Dan’s new twist on an old standard, the Manhattan…the Danhattan. Just one more example of my husband’s love of life and determination to make each day memorable.
We had a wonderful Manhattan at one of our special celebratory dinners at Ocean, one of Birmingham’s finest restaurants, a couple of years ago. Dan talked to the owner of the restaurant about the signature recipe, which included special cherries marinated in bourbon. Dan decided – as he always does- that he wanted to put his special twist on the recipe, to make it his own. As always, I cheered him on. This is what he came up with after a trial and error period, a wonderful elixir to help us celebrate the end of a long week or a special occasion:
The Perfect Danhattan
Equal parts Bullet Rye, Maker’s Mark Bourbon, and half shot of sweet vermouth
One tablespoon of cherry juice, and a dash of blood orange bitters
Serve in a very chilled glass and add a Bing cherry marinated in Grand Marnier
The drink is wonderful, but more important is the thought behind it, the appreciation that every day is a day to celebrate, to be made special. Especially now, it is so good for me to be reminded of the joy to be found in the little things, in the every day routine of life. Beauty is everywhere, all the time. Dan is my best friend, my soulmate, standing tall next to me, holding my hand no matter what comes our way…something he has proven over and over again during this challenge-filled summer.
Life is good, and I lift my glass to you, Dan Gainey, and to our new life together that stretches out before us, so many new adventures ahead. Cheers!