So what can I say about this drink, well, maybe a lot.
I'm a purist when it comes to the Manhattan. I'm somewhat hesitant to share my recipe because it's so damn easy and I'll be outed like the Great OZ. But, here goes.
First off there are only 3 ingredients in a Manhattan.
Whiskey, vermouth, and bitters.
Whiskey: The whiskey should be rye or bourbon. (If you need to know the difference please google. Basically rye is made from rye and bourbon is made from corn, and rye is more potent, and there are tons of varieties of BOTH out there) I like Knob Creek small batch rye but there are lots of ryes out there and you can choose your favorite. Whatever you use make sure it's over 80 proof. It makes a difference! That heat you feel on the back of your throat when you sip, that's the alcohol! And it's required.
Vermouth: The vermouth should be the red kind. Sweet. (again google if you need more info, but in a nutshell vermouth is a fortified wine, made from grapes - so some is white and some is red, surprise!) Some people make a Manhattan with a mix of half sweet and half dry vermouth. There is a trend in bars to call this "Perfect" hence you'll see "Perfect Martinis" and "Perfect Manhattans" Again, I'm a purist. I'm all about sweet. If your liquor store doesn't carry sweet vermouth, switch stores. It's everywhere.
Bitters: I often say "I know how to drive a car but I don't know how to build one." So I fall on my sword here with the bitters. I have no idea why, but the bitters are angostora. If you find out why, please let me know in a comment. Buy the small bottle (on the right side of this picture wrapped in paper just like your Worcestershire sauce) and keep in in your liquor cabinet. It's like club soda and a cork screw. It just should be there. See note on liquor store and availability above.
Putting the drink together requires only a little love and the tiniest bit of time. I use a measuring cup if I'm somewhere that has one. If I'm making them at a cookout on someones back porch (umm, David?) I use my eyes and good judgement. By the third or fourth round, sometimes judgement slips. That's another post altogether. You need some implement to stir and some ice. And of course, a glass.
Put your glasses in the freezer before you start to assemble the drink. I won't hate on you if all you have is a martini glass, but maybe for Christmas, put some nice coupe glasses on your Santa list?
Now the recipe:
- 2 oz of whiskey
- 1oz of vermouth
- Three good shakes from the angostura bitters (I don't mean 3 drops, three SHAKES)
Do NOT SHAKE. A Manhattan is never shaken! It may get the drink to the same coldness as stirring, but it will be cloudy and ugly. I use these chopsticks that I have (they are in the picture above) but use whatever. If you own a bar spoon that came with that cocktail kit from Brookstone, use that. Just stir with your wrist about 50 times. It's ok to count, or not. Then strain that good & cold stuff into the coupe that you've just retrieved from your freezer. Add a maraschino cherry and you are done. (you will sometimes see a lemon rind twist come out from behind the bar too, but usually that's when dry not SWEET vermouth is used. I already said, I'm a purist.)
Some helpful maybe tips when bar ordering.
Depending on where you are, there are some things you may want to do when you order these out.
First, look at the bar. Do you see the brown liquor? Do you see something you know or like? Are the options very limited? You can call out your base. I'd like a Makers Mark Manhattan please. Totally acceptable.
You MAY want to instruct your bartender that you want the drink served up. (strained into glass with no ice) A good bartender will know this. Remember that picture with the google images? The rocks glass had ice cubes in it, Manhattans are not served on the rocks. (I don't know what that drink is, but if it's served on ice, it's not a Manhattan) This is also where you may want to think about what glass he/she is grabbing off the shelf. Maybe you like like the triangle? (bleck) It's your drink AND your call.
perfect, it usually means the ratio of sweet to dry vermouth. If the bartender responds with a shrug and "I'll try" and thinks you meant "perfect quality" you may want to stop him/her in his tracks.
And if your bartender is wearing a nametag (or a button that says Please tip the Bartender) you may want to just order a Heineken instead.
Happy cocktail-ing, in moderation of course.