There’s no rhyme or reason for who lives and who dies in this world—the first line of my coronavirus lockdown dispatch, day 28—but 100-year-old Ralph Wendorf believes he’s found the secret. “I put two cherries in my Manhattan,” he told KQRE-TV of Albuquerque. Wendorf reached his one-century mark last weekend, which makes him, in his words, “pretty old.” We’ll go ahead and take his word on that one.
The classic Manhattan hasn’t changed much since its 1870-something creation at The Manhattan Club: old rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters, and a garnish of maraschino cherries. Allegedly, it was made per the request of Lady Randolph Churchill, iconic British party girl and mother of Winston. Perhaps that connection to the Bulldog is why Wendorf, a World War II Army vet, has taken to it. Wendorf looks to be in great shape. He also appears genuinely bemused by the fact that the news station is reporting on his birthday. To celebrate mid-lockdown, Wendorf’s family threw him a socially distant party: friends and family (slowly) drove by to wave/honk their congratulations, as did first responders and motorcycle clubs.
As the grandchild of a woman who similarly swore by her daily cherry-garnished Manhattan, I have some advice for Mr. Wendorf’s family, whenever they might need it (hopefully not for many more years): it might sound like a fun idea to “start drinking Manhattans” at “11 in the morning” at the reception “immediately following her funeral Mass” “in her memory.” This is fun until approximately noon. Then, there is endless open mic storytelling, followed by your entire family decamping to an uncle’s nearby house to “sober up” since no one can drive home. This results in more drinking and eating the leftover roast beef sandwiches from the luncheon, which only ended two hours prior. I’m not saying don’t do it; I’m just saying, know what you’re getting yourselves into. Cheers.