Winter's still got 10 more weeks. Slipping down my treacherous porch stairs to chip away at my ice-covered Ford Escape (like Brendan Fraser in Encino Man), I'd be lying if I said my first thought is anything but "Damn it, I need a drink."

Specifically, I need a Manhattan. Whiskey provides warmth, fortified vermouth lends life some stability, and bitters can perhaps calm my stupid stomach—which after a solid week of holiday eating has decided that raw oysters, baked ham, and everything else "au gratin" is a reasonable diet.

That first Manhattan of the year has to be an excellent one, so I head to St. Jack (1610 NW 23rd), where the bartenders wear custom aprons that cost more than my whole outfit, and even though they're sporting straight neckties, if you close your eyes you can easily imagine them in bow ties. They carve ice off a giant block behind the bar, is what I'm saying. And after spending my morning doing that very thing to my car, I'm ready to pay top dollar for this kind of service. And I will, because at $14, the Jack's Manhattan is nearing the limit of what I'll spend on a drink in this town. But George Dickel rye whiskey and Bonal Gentiane-Quina—an herbal and fruity fortified wine—taste like $14 in heat and comfort. Add a splash of Boker's bitters and curaçao, and you're basically making money on this deal.