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Manhattan Project


alacarte
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Interesting, our latest "twist" is what we call a Campy Manhattan: 3oz Rye, 1/2oz dry vermouth, 1/2oz sweet vermouth, splash of Campari, 2 shakes Angostura Bitters.

Practice Random Acts of Toasting

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I am here to tell the unwashed masses at eGullet that RanchoGordo is being too modest. I have been online for sixteen years, since AOL was for Macs only, back in the days of eWorld and so on. The internet was still young and fresh, even back in 1994 or so.

The internet was as sparsely populated as a Wyoming ranch, and believe me, you whippersnappers, when you saw something interesting (without blink tags, let's say), you pulled over and took note. Mister Lucky floored me (back when I was "Diotima's Evolution").

It was thus I became one of the subscribers to Steve Sando's paper magazine, Mister Lucky, and I still have my treasure of 'zines from those halcyon days.

I found Mister Lucky's writings to be tangier than a Cosmopolitan and tarter than a Meyer Lemon Drop. And yet classic, like a real martini, not one of the Dow Chemical Monsanto Hybridized Bastard Martini makers who seem to think any alcohol poured into a martini glass is a martini. (No, indeed. That is genetic engineering and I won't have any of it. But that is a Dead Horse Martini, and best left to lie there, rotting, in another thread.)

So listen to me. Or don't. Mister Lucky's as readable as anyone who writes for eGullet, period. He's the Vegameatavitamin of eGullet: "And tasty, too!"

Joe Bob says check it out. (He actually did say that about Mister Lucky, back in the day.)

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I like Carpano's Punt e Mes the best, but people that don't like bitter might not like it.

Interesting. It had never occurred to me to use Carpano Punt e Mes as a vermouth-category ingredient as opposed to a Campari-category ingredient. How does it work in a Manhattan? Do you have to use a smaller amount than you might vermouth to balance the drink?

Hell no. I like my drinks like me... BITTER! Ha ha. Ok, seriously, I usually use it full strength in Manhattans, but if you're going to try it you might try a smaller amount to start with.

Punt e Mes makes a really good Negroni too. Campari, Punt e Mes and a strong gin...yum.

regards,

trillium

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Darn! I had the same experience. Oh well, I will drown my sorrows in a perfect Manhattan. (Was there ever a drink descriptor more accurate?)

Edited by redfox (log)

"went together easy, but I did not like the taste of the bacon and orange tang together"

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I guess for this question I could start a Rye thread, but since i only use Rye in Manhattans, this seems like the right place...

Small-batch American Ryes seem to be making a slow comeback. Which, in your experience, are the better ones? Or, at least, which are best in a Manhattan?

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.Small-batch American Ryes seem to be making a slow comeback. Which, in your experience, are the better ones? Or, at least, which are best in a Manhattan?

I'm a fellow rye Manhattan fanatic of some 15 years' standing--for me, the spiciness of the rye cuts through the thickness of the vermouth and gives the drink an edge that makes it work as a true aperitif. Bitters are essential, too, and a twist.

The best ryes I've found for Manhattans are Wild Turkey and Heaven Hill's Rittenhouse--the 100-proof bonded version, not the 80-proof. The proof is very important: a 100-proof whiskey has only a little more alcohol than an 80-proof, but it has a lot more flavor and makes for a more concentrated, pungent drink. If I can't get one of those, I'll use the 100-proof Old Grand Dad bourbon over an 80-proof rye.

As for sipping ryes: Van Winkle Family Reserve is my favorite potion.

For an Old-Fashioned: Old Potrero's "Single Malt Whaiskey" (they can't call it rye because it's aged in a toasted oak barrel rather than a charred one.

What are your faves?

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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Actually, i haven't got a fave yet. I only recently discovered that Manhattans were originally made with rye. For some reason I've never liked Bourbon, hence never liked the Bourbon-based Manhattans I had been given. Now, however...

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  • 2 years later...

Dear All,

It seems to me that as some Cocktail "experts" are advocating using less and less vermouth in their Manhattan Cocktails that there is a need to redefine the terminology to be used in association with this classic mixed drink.

Personally I think there is a need for vermouth heavy Manhattan recipes; it, of course, comes down to what it is you are trying to highlight in the flavour profile of the mixed drink. The older recipes did not shy away from vermouth; so this should be seen as a sign that vermouth is to be highly regarded in this drink, and not relegated to a mere whisper; simply present, perhaps, to allow it to be technically called a Manhattan, rather than a Whiskey Cocktail (in a dirty glass!-)

My suggestions:

Heavy Manhattan

1 1/2 shot of 50%abv American Whiskey (Bourbon or Rye).

1 1/2 shot of Vermouth (Sweet or Dry).

dashes of Angostura Bitters (non-optional)

dashes of Absinthe (optional)*

dashes of Grenadine Syrup(optional)*

dashes of Orange Liqueur (optional)*

dashes of Maraschino Liqueur (not the syrup)*

Stir with ice, and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass; Garnish with a twist of Lemon.

*any, all or none of these ingredients can be used.

Light Manhattan

2 shots of American Whisky (Bourbon or Rye)

1 shot of Vermouth (Sweet or Dry)

dashes of Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice, and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass; Garnish with a twist of Lemon.

Very-Light Manhattan

2 1/2 shots of American Whisky (Bourbon or Rye)

1/2 shot of Vermouth (Sweet or Dry)

dashes of Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice, and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass; Garnish with a twist of Lemon.

For anyone wondering, there is no room in my recipes for so-called "Perfect" Manhattans; its either or, not both; choose the one vermouth you want; sweet or dry; with default being the Sweet Vermouth.

Cheers!

George S.

p.s. If you want to see some old Manhattan recipes, then click here!

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To my taste, even a 2:1 of rye to sweet vermouth is unbalanced.

2.5:1 is the ratio that gives me the most pleasure. Beyond that (more rye)

it is too "hot" for me.

Also, I dig on cherries over the lemon peel. (Homemade from defrosted

frozen pitted cherries macerated in Stock Maraschino. See, I found a use

for it after I got a bottle of Luxardo. :biggrin: )

Your other adders are interesting. Playtime ahead.

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I think in part your preference for a ratio will depend on how you view a 'balanced' drink. Some woud say that the amount of vermouth used depends on the bottling of whiskey being used. My personal approach leans more toward using a consistent ratio and letting the personality of the spirit work within that ratio. To me this only works so long as the specific type of spirit were used, meaning I might use 2:1 for both Old Overholt and Wild Turkey Rye, but change to Wild Turkey Bourbon and I might use 3:1, change to Maker's Mark and it's still 3:1, but change to Famous Grouse and I might go 5:1. Also this only really applies to the use of 'aromatic' ingredients. Obviously balancing a sour-type drink is a different game than balancing a Manhattan.

If all of this sounds rather confusing, well, maybe it is.

-Andy

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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I think one of the problems is the spirit-centric view that people have; the whiskey is seen as the main ingredient, whereas I feel it is the vermouth that is the focal point of a Manhattan.

Before Manhattans came along, people were drinking whiskey cocktails; when Vermouth became the big thing in America, the Manhattan came along. The Manhattan is all about the Vermouth.

The 1:2 Manhattan is a hell of a drink; I recommend using a strong abv bourbon to go with all that Vermouth.

Cheers!

George

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I agree that Vermouth was originally the star of the Manhattan, however, 2 points:

1) To paraphrase someone smarter than me, The origin of a thing and it's heyday are often different. Case in point: Margaritas. While I'm sure most here would agree that some ratio of 100% agave tequila, cointrea, and fresh lime juice makes the best Margarita, the typical Mexcian food patron would likely find these far too tart, and at least initially, would probably prefer their artificially flavored one made with well tequila coming out of the frozen drink machine. Unfortunate, but that's what a Margarita is to most people: tequila spiked limeade. And thats why they are so popular (in my mind, personally I don't care for tequila).

2) It is far easier to find superior whiskey than superior vermouth, so why not showcase the better-made of the two ingredients? Vya, King Eder, Carpano Antica Formula, none of these are available to me. While I have no problem using Cinzano or Martini & Rossi (or Noilly Prat), I'd much rather showcase the flavor of my $20 bottle of whiskey rather than my $4 bottle of vermouth.

Though I'll have to give your 'backwards' version a try, for research of course ;)

-Andy

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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In the "Drinks, what hit the spot today" thread, I reported on a Manhattan which I thought ideal.

A Manhattan tonight.  Upper East Side version  :wink: .

2.5 Sazerac 18 year old Rye

1 Vya Sweet Vermouth

2 dashes Fee's Old Fashioned Bitters

Homemade cherry.

Absolutely amazing drink.  Too amazing, really.

The Sazerac was the 2006 bottling, by the way. I must admit I am leery of the 1:2 method, but I will make myself a small one using that ratio later today. That Vya vermouth is really delicious solo, so I *can* see the possibilities. I'm just not convinced the result will be a Manhattan AS I KNOW IT. I'll sub in Wild Turkey 101 Rye, for the 80 proof Sazerac as suggested.

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Sweet garnish with sweet vermouth and dry/astringent garnish (twist) with dry vermouth seems to be rather conventional across the board, not just in Manhattans. As for me, I have no access to quality cocktail cherries and little inclination to make my own, so a twist goes in my 2:1 rye Manhattan, and I think it's a good addition.

In my mind, a twist is an absolute must in a bourbon Manhattan, to control the sweetness. I guess thats why I prefer the twist in general to cherries. I'm not sure when the last time I actually used a cherry garnish was.

-Andy

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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I'm not sure when the last time I actually used a cherry garnish was.

A cake, perhaps?

Heh, perhaps. Seems like I used one recently, and it reminded me why I don't really bother anymore. I just can't remember what drink it was in. It was probably more for a visual than aything else, that's about all they're good for to me.

-Andy

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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I love the way a big, fat maraschino cherry looks in a drink. The bourbon soaked cherries just don't give a drink the same look. The lemon twist and the non- maraschino cherries add sophistication along with subtle flavor to a drink, but there is just something about that cherry I grew up with that still does it for me. :shock:

KathyM

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If you have Carpano Antica (readily available in NY at Warehouse Liquors among other places) then a 1:2 ratio makes an absolutely fabulous Manhattan.  I wouldn't try this with cruddier Vermouth.

Indeed. Might it be that the quality of modern vermouth has something to do with its de-emphasis in the Manhattan's flavor profile? I, for one, can't stand Martini & Rossi Rosso. The Carpano is too heavily cinnamoned for my particular tolerances (bad reaction to large quantities of cinnamon... not quite an allergy, but...) , though in flavor it has none of the M&R's objectionable musty cardboardy qualities.

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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  • 9 months later...

Odd, this seems to be the only topic here dedicated to the wonderful cocktail called "The Manhattan"!

In any case, Gary Regan has a great article about the Manhattan in today's SF Chronicle Wine Section:

The Manhattan project: A bartender spills his secrets on the king of cocktails, Gary Regan

At first glance the Manhattan looks like such a simple affair - whiskey, sweet vermouth and a few dashes of bitters. I'm the first to admit that it's not too hard to make a halfway decent version of this cocktail, but a truly great Manhattan can be made only by someone who truly understands the magnitude of what's at hand. Indeed, the mark of a bartender who is truly worth his or her salt lies solidly in his or her interpretation of the Manhattan.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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