I’ll Take Manhattan
by Robyn Cleveland
(Barman at The Ravens Club)
The Manhattan Cocktail, an essential classic that every bartender should know, is perhaps the most recognizable base for a new concoction. Along with a small handful of other classic cocktails, its flavors and balance set the standard for what makes a good drink. Its origins are often debated, but a Manhattan is historically made with Rye whiskey, Italian sweet vermouth, and aromatic bitters. This cocktail has other variations, while being called by the same name Even the garnish is variable. While the widely accepted Maraschino cherry reigns supreme, a lemon peel whose oils are pressed over the top of the drink can work wonders, especially when in a Rye version.
These are the four main versions of an almost endless array of combinations. You can change the whiskey, or the bitters, or the vermouth, and get an entirely new drink every time. Another great way to switch things up is to use aperitif wine such Bonal Gentiane-Quina or Dubonnet Rouge instead of vermouth. You can even try a new spirit in place of the rye (Hint: think aged rum, brandy, cognac or anejo tequila.)
However, if you choose to mix it, always be sure to stir the drink properly, in a glass with ice — no shaking. Purists say 30 seconds to a minute. Then strain into a cocktail glass of your choice. If you must have it on the rocks opt for one large cube so you don’t over dilute
(disclaimer: this is debatable)
2oz American rye whiskey
1 oz Sweet vermouth
(try Carpano Antica Formula)
2-3 dashes aromatic bitters,
most notably Angostura
DRY MANHATTAN replaces the Italian sweet
vermouth with French dry vermouth (I like Dolin for this)
PERFECT MANHATTAN contains an equal split of sweet and dry vermouth.
50/50 MANHATTAN: This one is a mix of equal parts whiskey and vermouth. I prefer a cask strength whiskey such as Booker’s Bourbon, which gives the drink a little more bite. Try an extra dash or two of bitters to really up the flavor ante.