Modern Gents at Morrison House

Champagne Sabering

"Jason Tesauro sabers champagne" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

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.

Tools of the "Modern Gentleman"

"Tools of the Modern Gentleman" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

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.

"Pomme Frere" cocktails

"Pomme Frere cocktails" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

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.

Chef Dennis Marron, Morrison House

"Chef Dennis Marron, Morrison House" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

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.

Morrison House
116 South Alfred Street,
Alexandria VA, 22314
To reserve, call 703-838-8000

As one of the founding editors of We Love DC, Jenn’s passions are theater and cocktails. After two decades in the city, she’s loved every quirky, mundane, elegant, rude minute of her DC life. A proud advocate for DC’s talented drinks scene, she’s judged the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s ARTINI contest, the DC Rickey Month contest, the Jefferson Hotel’s Quill Cocktail competition, and is a founding member of LUPEC DC. A graduate of Catholic University’s drama program, she toured the country as a member of National Players, and has been both an actor and a costume designer before jumping the aisle to theater criticism. Writing for We Love DC restored her happiness after a life-threatening illness, and she’s grateful to you, dear readers. Send your suggestions to jenn (at) welovedc (dot) com and follow her on Twitter.

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5 thoughts on “Modern Gents at Morrison House

  1. You say: “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.” – Why is it no coincidence? What happened to the sentence that should have followed that poiting out the flaw in men of this era? What evidence do you have? What is your argument? Because, I dont’ think this is so patently obvious that you can just leave us dangling. The fact that the four individuals that you named are from “another era” is not evidence.

    But thanks for the info.

  2. Eric, Jenn meant that they’re all men who are “elegant without losing his swagger”. Mmm, Cary Grant. I think she’s saying (or at least I am) that men of the 2000’s just aren’t elegant the way they used to be.

  3. Thank you, Katie.

    Eric, I’m unable to determine whether you want me to elaborate, or whether you simply want to scold me for not providing elaboration. But, thank you for your comment and I’ll attempt to clarify.

    I think it isn’t a coincidence because, in my opinion, it seems difficult for many men in the current era to differentiate between elegance and weakness or effeminancy. Whereas previously, it was considered natural for a man to be able to be both elegant and masculine. Therefore it isn’t a coincidence that the best examples of elegant masculinity are from another era.

  4. Wasn’t trying to scold you, Jenn. Just trying to understand what you meant.

    And I get what you say. I know the (ever growing) group of men you’re referring to. Quite sad. Arrested development with a smattering of insecurity.