The leaves have stopped falling and the rain has started, winter is come. ”Baby, it’s cold outside.”
Done right, the Manhattan is the only cocktail that can slug it out in a 3-way battle royal with an Old Fashioned and a Martini. Like its stablemates, it is bold and fortifying, simple and brash. It originated in New York circa 1874, along with a swathe of other drinks named after one of the 5 burroughs. Born in, (you guessed it) The Manhattan Club, legend has it a young bottle-slinging genius created it for Lady Churchill (Winston’s mother) but apparently she was in France at the time. Whatever, it’s a good story, and for some reason I imagine she was a real babe, so let’s just pretend.
The key phrase in the above paragraph is “done right.” Sadly, few do, and many good men have rejected a lot of bad drinks due to the proliferation of average bourbon. A real Manhattan MUST be made with Rye. No Jack, Canadian Club (despite the higher rye percentage) and certainly no wheated Makers Mark. It’s all just too sweet.
A real Manhattan needs rye whiskey. There is a distinct cohesion between the bitters, the sweet vermouth, and the sharp, peppery whiskey that has inspired a legion of spinoff’s on any decent cocktail menu. I’ve thrown in a few recommendations to play around with below, but first, here’s how to do it “right”.
60ml Rye Whiskey (Hudson Manhattan small batch)
30ml Sweet Vermouth (Formula Antica or Cinzano rosso)
2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Orange peel/maraschino cherry to garnish.
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass, fill with ice, stir briskly until ice cold. Double Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass, garnish and serve.
(Like all classics, once you’ve mastered it, you can attempt all manner of improvisations. Vary the bitters, (I like chocolate, orange or peychauds bitters) the vermouth (50/50 dry french/sweet italian) etc. or even use an amaro like Averna in smaller quantities. It can also be served over ice,Don’t add Bourbon though, because as above, that’s a whole different drink. I’ve even added muddled ginger pieces or a ginger syrup instead of the vermouth, with orange and chocolate bitters. It became known as the Joan Harris Manhattan
But in the end, I always come back to the original. let’s settle in for winter shall we?