Maybe it’s easier to define feminine elegance than masculine, but one thing I know for sure – a man can be elegant without losing his swagger. In fact, both complement the other. It’s no coincidence that the men who best epitomize this quality are usually from another era – Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Duke Ellington, Steve McQueen.
Sound appealing? Enter Jason Tesauro, author of The MODERN GENTLEMAN: A Guide to Essential Manners, Savvy & Vice. Earlier this week I had the privilege of attending a complimentary preview of his upcoming series at Morrison House in Old Town. These four courses are designed to give modern gents a roadmap for mixing confidence with class. Or as Jason put it, to give you “a code of ethics even in the dicier areas of vice.”
Want to learn how to saber a bottle of champagne? How to navigate the world of artisan cocktails, stocking your home bar with confidence? How about choosing hand-rolled cigars, carving a bird, learning about custom tailoring, all while wooing the ladies? Covered, in true raconteur style.
The series will take place once a month at Morrison House, beginning with October 28th’s “Sticks & Stones: Cigar How-tos and Whiskey Wherefores” and progressing through November 18th’s “Brews and Birds: Craft Beers and the Art of Carving,” December 16th’s “Corks & Forks: Essential Wines and Splendid Pairings,” and January 27th’s “Fizz and Flask.”
Each class starts at 7pm and costs $80 (if you book all four classes you also receive a complimentary overnight stay at Morrison House and dinner at The Grille). Each course features food pairings by Chef Dennis Marron.
Jason and Dennis gave a taste of each course in the preview. Besides the highly engrossing champagne sabering portion (want to learn? December 14th), Jason mixed up a great autumn cocktail with cider, apple, and bitters, brought us through the anatomy of hand-rolled cigars, and even touched on the finer points of skinny-dipping. Dennis showed how simple it really is to carve a bird and not humiliate yourself (November 18th, just in time to save Thanksgiving).
It’s apparent by the wealth of information provided that these gentlemen are passionate about their mission. Jason’s a sommelier and “style aficionado,” but he’s still got Jersey in him. There’s a lot of talk these days about restoring a man’s “core charisma” and of being an “authentic male,” but certainly he approaches it in a different way than say, the seduction community. His series aims to give men a roadmap to translate old-school manners to modern times, and I think it succeeds in an entertaining and risque way. There’s a strong love here of vintage books on manners, classic cocktails, and 1960’s era Playboy.
Especially interested as I am in the current rise of handcrafted cocktails, I asked Jason whether it was a fad or a genuine sea change. He thinks we’ll continue to see a greater awareness of what makes a good cocktail past the initial trend. Everyone may not stay on the bandwagon, but as he says – “if Rose’s Lime Juice dies, I’ll be a happy man.”
I strongly feel that these things still have value – not just cocktails! but decorum and aesthetics – that the trappings of civilized society still have meaning in our Age of Shamelessness. There’s a certain anger amongst my friends and our generation, that the Boomers so callously threw away the beauty of the past. Not all of it was good, but not all of it had to go. This series gives you modern gentlemen some of the best bits – elegance with swagger, confidence with class.
116 South Alfred Street,
Alexandria VA, 22314
To reserve, call 703-838-8000