Friday, September 2, 2011

CLINK! Manhattan Cocktail

So, for the first recipe I post I’ll start with what I consider the granddaddy of all classic cocktails out there, the Manhattan (apologies to the Martini aficionados). First a little history:

The Manhattan was reportedly invented at the request of one Jennie Jerome, future mother of Sir Winston Churchill, in 1874. It was invented to celebrate the newly elected governor of New York, Samuel J. Tilden. The drink derives its name from the Manhattan Club where it was invented, not the island directly. Or so the story goes. There are many resources that document this story, but I liked the presentation by the Bar Mix Master best, including the photograph of Jennie Jerome herself. Another story suggests that the Manhattan is simply one of the five cocktails representing the boroughs of New York City (got that little tidbit from The Art of Drink).

Now that the academic stuff is out of the way we can get to the good stuff. Basically, the Manhattan consists of bourbon or rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters, garnished with a Maraschino cherry. There is some debate in cocktail circles about what the “proper” whiskey for a Manhattan is. I won’t get into that, as far as I’m concerned both bourbon and rye make great drinks, but they are very different in character. It probably depends more on your mood, the season, and what you have on hand. Bourbon makes a robust, “woodsier” drink that is very smooth. It is a strong drink, more like getting punched in the face. Rye, on the other hand, is spicier and has a lively mouth feel. It’s like getting slapped in the face. You can’t go wrong either way, unless of course you don’t like getting struck in the face. But I digress. There isn’t, or shouldn’t be, much debate about the recipe:

2 oz. bourbon or rye
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
Garnish with Maraschino cherry
(makes one drink)

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Please, please, please stir this drink until it is ice cold, 15-20 seconds. You might read recipes that call for this drink to be shaken, but they are mistaken (I will throw down the gauntlet on this)! Shaking a Manhattan fundamentally changes the character, taste, and color of the drink and simply should not be done. If you do it I’ll hunt you down and make you pay-every one of you! I’ll write a more general post about shaken vs. stirred sometime soon.


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