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Annette Marron Holbrook

Manhattans and ice - am I being too picky?

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Our area (northern Atlanta suburb) has had a surge of wonderful new restaurants open in the past 5 years. The last 2 have seen a rise in spots that tout their cocktail bar as a big deal. I love to go and try out these new spots and feel lucky to have that option a couple of times a month.

My go-to cocktail is the Manhattan, my favorite to make but also to order out. I feel it is a good barometer of the place. If they brag online about their great cocktail options and superior mixologists on staff and then I see grocery store brand cherries or see dusty vermouth bottles on the shelf then I consider the hype just that, hype. I usually check out the selection of rye and order based on whatever they have that I like, so for example the other night I ordered a Rittenhouse Manhattan. 

Anyway, at least 75% of the time I get a Manhattan in an old fashioned glass served over ice, the last place it was served over crushed ice! I didn't bother to say "up" or "neat" when I ordered as I always thought that a) a Manhattan is a drink that is served up, and b) I was told that you only specify the rocks option if you are wanting the drink served out of the norm from what is considered standard. In a million years I wouldn't think to have to order a Martini up, so why is the Manhattan any different?

The last place I didn't say anything and drank it as my experience in the past has been if you send it back then they just pour that same drink off the ice and into a cocktail glass, which just watered it down more and left ice chards in the drink.

 

One of my own :D.

 

imagejpg2_zps975d2ca9.jpg

 

Annette


Edited by Annette Marron Holbrook (log)

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The sad truth is that there are a lot of poorly trained/knowledgeable bartenders out there. A couple weeks ago I ordered a black and tan and it looked right but didn't taste right. Then she told me that they were out of Bass so subbed Palm instead. Something I'd have liked to know upfront and any decent bartender would say something first.

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The sad truth is that there are a lot of poorly trained/knowledgeable bartenders out there. A couple weeks ago I ordered a black and tan and it looked right but didn't taste right. Then she told me that they were out of Bass so subbed Palm instead. Something I'd have liked to know upfront and any decent bartender would say something first.

Uhm, no. I agree, you should have been told and had the option of changing your order.

 

I don't have anything against a Manhattan on ice per se. I frequently drink mine with a giant ice sphere at home when the craving for a Manhattan hits me in the summer. 

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The Manhattan was my first adult cocktail.  The Georgetown (DC) Grill served Manhattans at their weekday Happy Hour and charged 50 cents for them!  Of course this was back in 1971.  Great memory for me.  

 

I veered off cocktails into the world of wine many decades ago, but this topic has made me thirsty for a Manhattan.

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So it turns out we are going back to one of these places for dinner tonight. I love the food and general atmosphere so am pleased my friends chose it. I so in the mood for a Manhattan now, so am I ok to watch the bartender make it, or tell him/her exactly how it should be done? I won't be snarky, but would love if they understood this one drink. 

Annette

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Anyway, at least 75% of the time I get a Manhattan in an old fashioned glass served over ice, the last place it was served over crushed ice! I didn't bother to say "up" or "neat" when I ordered as I always thought that a) a Manhattan is a drink that is served up, and b) I was told that you only specify the rocks option if you are wanting the drink served out of the norm from what is considered standard. In a million years I wouldn't think to have to order a Martini up, so why is the Manhattan any different?

The last place I didn't say anything and drank it as my experience in the past has been if you send it back then they just pour that same drink off the ice and into a cocktail glass, which just watered it down more and left ice chards in the drink.

 

I agree with you 100% that if you are going to serve a Manhattan any other way than up, then you should ask first. Every cocktail book I own also backs this up.  I was at a very highly rated gastro pub in Chicago a couple months ago and was surprised that my Manhattan was served on the rocks with a twist. I actually mentioned it(among other things) in a Trip Advisor post and I was run out of town on a rail by people telling me that it's totally "standard" to serve them on ice.

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So it turns out we are going back to one of these places for dinner tonight. I love the food and general atmosphere so am pleased my friends chose it. I so in the mood for a Manhattan now, so am I ok to watch the bartender make it, or tell him/her exactly how it should be done? I won't be snarky, but would love if they understood this one drink. 

Annette

You're the customer, do as you please!

 

I often tell a bartender how I want my Martini...sometimes 3:1, sometimes 2:1, sometimes 50/50 with orange bitters and a twist, etc. But if I'm ordering a Manhattan in a good cocktail bar here, or at a restaurant that has a real bar, they don't have to be told how to make it - though they will ask me if I want a twist or cherries, which is good bartending.  But one thing you'll never see in one of these places - a Manhattan served on the rocks - that's not correct.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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It can be awkward if everything else is good. I would suggest politely asking if you can get it the way you would like it before placing the order.  The danger is that they straight out say no.  If that is the case, then it would seem like poor customer service and it sounds like you have no shortage by way of choice of restaurants.  It's your hard earned cash you are spending after all.

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In a local restaurant here, I was served a Negroni in a cocktail glass.

It was one of those oversized cocktail glasses you would receive a strawberry Daiquiri in, and had the tiniest lemon twist.

We were just laughing about the unexpected presentation between ourselves, when the waitress asked if it was OK, and explained this is how it looked in their cocktail book.

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It can be awkward if everything else is good. I would suggest politely asking if you can get it the way you would like it before placing the order.  The danger is that they straight out say no.  If that is the case, then it would seem like poor customer service and it sounds like you have no shortage by way of choice of restaurants.  It's your hard earned cash you are spending after all.

A Manhattan "up" is hardly that awkward of an order, is it?  How can they possibly say no to that? 


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I believe I would prefer a Manhattan without ice, but without dragging this discussion into a totally irrelevant tangent, how would you mix your Manhattan?

p

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My standby Manhattan is 2oz Rittenhouse Rye, 1oz Carpano Antica Vermouth, 2 dashes Fee Bros Bitters. Stirred and served up with 2 Luxardo cherries In the summer I change out the cherries for orange or lemon twist and maybe Angustora bitters. If I'm going to sit outside then I will serve over ice as the Atlanta heat will heat up a drink in seconds.

 

For Christmas I got a bottle of Whistle Pig Rye and a bottle of Doc Holiday Rye so will try those when the Rittenhouse is gone.

 

Annette


Edited by Annette Marron Holbrook (log)

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Well - $8 cocktails cracked me up.

 

But - this bartender is a friend, and he's got it right...and The Up & Up is awesome, by the way.

 

Chaim Dauermann, head bartender at NYC’s The Up & Up, offers his insight, saying, “I don’t think anyone should be expected to suffer through a drink that’s not their cup of tea. I try my best to understand a person’s tastes before an order is put through, but you can’t always get it right. As long as someone politely grabs my attention, lets me know that it just isn’t their thing, and hasn’t consumed very much of their drink, I make a new one, bring it, and take away the old one.”

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Appreciated,I can see how ice, shaved, chipped or cubed would take away from the drink.


p
 


Edited by palo (log)

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Well, there are different standards in different locales.  Isn't a Manhattan made with brandy by custom someplace in the upper midwest?  A magnet city like ATL will have people coming from everywhere, so you'll never know their mind unless you ask them before ordering.  Cocktails like the Manhattan never died when they were out of fashion... but the memory of them faded different ways in different places.

 

Look here for a survey of the diversity of traditions this drink has garnered: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_%28cocktail%29


Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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There are still plenty of places that will by default serve all "mixed drinks" over ice in a tumbler.  This is, I would imagine, a holdover from the many years when alcoholic drinks effectively consisted of "booze + mixer over ice."  I have found it especially prevalent in restaurants. Personally, although the idea of a Martini on the rocks is a bit mystifying to me, I have been known to enjoy the occasional Manhattan-formula cocktail over ice.

 

Mitch gets it right.  Even though it may now be common local bars for a Manhattan to be served up, in a restaurant it doesn't hurt to say something like, "I'd like a [brand] Manhattan, stirred, up with a twist.  Bitters if you've got 'em."


--

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So we went back for dinner Saturday evening. I ordered a Rittenhouse Manhattan and before I could continue the server asked me if I'd like it up or on ice. So pleasantly surprised! This time it was a great drink and I thanked the bartender as we were leaving.

 

Annette

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I'm a Manhattan fan - it goes like this:

 

"Manhattan, up - Maker's Mark, please."

 

not too many disappointments......

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I have found that more places are asking if you want that up, which I greatly appreciate since I sometimes forget to specify.  However, a lot of places still shake everything, and I never quite feel comfortable asking them to stir it.  Mind you, there are places I go where I know they will always stir what should be stirred without having to be told, but those places are few and far between.

 

Worst Manhattan I ever had was once when I did remember to ask for it up.  It was served in a small whiskey tumbler.  Plus, I suspect it was not much else than a shot of whiskey.  I could detect almost no vermouth and certainly no bitters.  I think they made it like they were making a Martini, with just a half a dash of vermouth.  Luckily, I had ordered a good brand of Bourbon, so it wasn't a total loss.

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Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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