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Manhattan Project


alacarte
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Interesting article. But, really, why must people persist in calling a drink consisting of whiskey, Cynar and pomegranate molasses, or whiskey with sweetened Shiraz a "Manhattan"? Can't we agree that a Manhattan is made with whiskey, Italian vermouth and bitters? And when you add other stuff you either have a different kind of Manhattan (e.g., "dry" or "perfect") or you have a different drink (e.g., the Little Italy at Pegu Club)?

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I'm with you there, Sam.

I recently ordered the house Manhattan at a local restaurant and was a bit horrified to discover, after it arrived at my table, it contained maple liqueur, of all things, and no vermouth!

Without enough bitter to balance the sweet, it turned into a dessert drink. Yuck!

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Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I have no idea if I've created something new, or just stumbled upon an existing combination, but I've been wanting to play around with my Ramazzotti Amaro, so I just made myself a Manhattan variation with,

2 oz Rittenhouse 101

1/2 oz sweet vermouth

1/2 oz Ramazzotti Amaro

and a few healthy dashes of Hermes Orange Bitters

and I'm in heaven.

"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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I have no idea if I've created something new, or just stumbled upon an existing combination, but I've been wanting to play around with my Ramazzotti Amaro, so I just made myself a Manhattan variation with,

2 oz Rittenhouse 101

1/2 oz sweet vermouth

1/2 oz Ramazzotti Amaro

and a few healthy dashes of Hermes Orange Bitters

and I'm in heaven.

i was really into the ramazotti with bianco vermouth.

tonight i made a variation with rye, elixir gambrinus, peychaud's and creme de violette... i know gambrinus is not an aromatized wine vermouth but it is made in the same way as vermouth (from reduced ribaso grape wine to taste like marasca cherries) and it gets depth from grappa and oak aging....

abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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Bumping this thread as I have begun to develop a great fondess for this cocktail. Not only will I order them at a bar/restaurant, I've been fooling around with them at home.

At first, I made them with Jim Beam (I had some kicking around for other drinks). Then, people here and elsewhere tipped me off to the rye thing. So, I bought some Wild Turkey 101 and started to use that. That's generally how I've been making them and ordering them these days. But maybe I should play around with Makers. I've had them made that way at bars a few times.

For vermouth, I've always been using Noilly Prat (sweet). Always garnished with a cherry, too. (just looks "right" to me). But I would like to experiment with this component some. I should see if they stock Vya at my local liquor store since lots of people here seem to be fond of it.

The last component is the bitters. I didn't see much talk about that essential ingredient in this thread. Until recently, I always used Angostura. But I have some orange bitters (Fees) now, and piced up Peychaud's. What are others doing here? Different bitters for different base whiskey/bourbon? Or do you always use the same?

I love this drink. Three simple components. But it looks elegant and refined. And IMHO, plenty masculine. It's no foo foo "martini", even if some people mistake them for such.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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The last component is the bitters. I didn't see much talk about that essential ingredient in this thread.  Until recently, I always used Angostura.  But I have some orange bitters (Fees) now, and piced up Peychaud's.  What are others doing here? Different bitters for different base whiskey/bourbon? Or do you always use the same?

I usually reach for the Angostura (I'm going to have to pick up a bottle of the Fee's barrel aged before they're all gone), but I do find that if I'm using Bulleit bourbon instead of my usual rye, I like a dash of orange.

I haven't tried the Vya sweet yet, but it's worth seeking out the Carpano Antica. Fabulous stuff, that'll quickly spoil you.

"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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When I was at Pegu Club last year, I had what they called the 2-2-2 Manhattan. Two ryes (Michter's and Rittenhouse Bonded); two vermouths (NP dry and Carpano Antica) and two types of bitters (Angostura and Regan's Orange). It was one of the best Manhattans I've ever had, and since then I've been using the two vermouths and the two bitters in all my Manhattans. (I'd use the two ryes as well, but I don't generally have Michter's on hand.)

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The last component is the bitters. I didn't see much talk about that essential ingredient in this thread.  Until recently, I always used Angostura.  But I have some orange bitters (Fees) now, and piced up Peychaud's.  What are others doing here? Different bitters for different base whiskey/bourbon? Or do you always use the same?

Angostura is never wrong. In fact, I recently was amazed at how good a Manhattan could be made of regular old Jim Beam, a dusty old bottle of M&R and Angostura.

My preference, though, is for Unicum with Bourbon and homemade Abbott's replica with Rye.

I recently picked up my first bottle of Carpano Antica. Such a different beast than my usual Cinzano. I tasted it on its own at first and was skeptical. Kinda thin and grape-juicy, with a heavy dose of bitter. But mixed with rye it is absolute nectar. It has a lot more of a bitter kick than your average sweet vermouth, so lately I have just been leaving out the bitters entirely and savoring the beauty of the Carpano-Rye combination. I know this is sacrilige. Give me a couple more like this and then I'll start really experimenting with the bitters.

Edited by David Santucci (log)
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Bitters are essential, too, and a twist.

I'm with Gary Regan on this one, no twist for me. A twist of orange could be interesting, but I think it would also make it a very different drink.

I'm with Splificator on the Rye though. Wild Turkey is absolutely fabulous. Rittenhouse 100, too. The Wild Turkey is better on its own, but mixed, it's a toss-up. I actually find them very similar.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Gary Regan has changed my life (again). After reading his recent SF Chronicle article (cited above) I decided to be bold with the bitters.

I made a simple 2:1 Manhattan (3 oz. bourbon and 1.5 oz sweet vermouth). Not sure if I could stomach his preferred six dashes of bitters, I added 5 big shakes of Angostura.

It was a revelation. A strong cinnamon taste and the bitters balanced the syrup taste of the vermouth. It's almost not the same cocktail. I'm a convert.

This makes me wonder if I've been too stingy with bitters in other drinks?

My only complaint is that the spiciness of the bitters really seems to dissipate mid-way through the drink. Maybe I should make a slightly smaller cocktail.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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I like a heavy bitters taste as well, maybe because Angostura has an odd psychological relaxing effect on me. An ok Manhattan I had last week consisted of:

2oz Knob Creek Bourbon

0.5oz M&R Sweet Vermouth

4 shakes of Angostura

garnished with cherry

The Knob Creek is rather upfront and spicy, that's why I like adding the cherry. I'm rather disappointed I bought this Knob Creek to try out, as after tasting it I think I like Makers Mark a lot better. Another favourite is a Perfect Cuban Manhattan:

2.5oz demerara rum

0.25oz M&R Dry

0.25oz M&R Sweet

4 shakes Angostura

lemon twist

This one tastes great even with a cheap demerara rum like Lemon Hart. It adds a pleasant smoky sweetness. The rum actually has a lighter flavour profile than most bourbons, so I use it in a higher ratio to vermouth, and cut the sweet vermouth with dry vermouth. Lemon twists seem to work better as a garnish.

Edited by jlo mein (log)
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  • 1 month later...

I absolutely love this thread, as I've been a Manhattan advocate (literally converting friends and acquaintances to its wonders) for the better part of the last seven years.

Unlike a lot of folks, this was not something handed down from an elder in my family, rather the starter (and ender many hours later) of a night out with some former publishing colleagues, one of whom was half a generation older than I.

I occurs to me that discussing THE single best Manhattan, is akin to people discussing what their favorite colors are, and that, I think, is the beauty. A little more bourbon or rye here, more or less vermouth, two shakes, four shakes, six shakes (!!) of bitters all create a different dance among the flavors here.

But make no mistake: As Sam pointed out in an earlier post, a Manhattan is bourbon or rye, Italian vermouth and bitters. End of story.

Unfortuantely for me, being from Maine, we have slim pickings when it comes to good vermouth and that means I'm stuck with M&R Rosso which probably explains why I like my Manhattans heavy on the spirit side, 3 to 1 and even 4 to 1 spirit to vermouth.

I found the note about the 2-2-2 Manhattan interesting as I have been blending bourbons for my Manhattans almost since the beginning, though to be truthful, this began as a way to economize getting some better bourbon into the drink without going broke ( I drink A LOT of Manhattans). My "house" Manhattan, currently, is equal parts Jim Beam and Knob Creek 3 to 1 ratio to vermouth, two or three shakes of bitters depending on how full the bitters bottle is.

I like this better than an all Knob Creek mix, but I sitll keep the flavor profiles of the blend in the family, if you will. The idea of using Blantons never ocurred to me, as mentioned in an earlier post, but I think that is because it is one of my favorite sipping bourbons and has lots of different flavors all by itself that I wouldn't want to potentially hide. Still, I'm intrigued

Like others, I have tried some variations, even adding a drop or two of Cointreau (since the only bitters I have is Angostura) and that made a great counterpoint, but it's not something I do on a regular basis. If I want orange flavors with my bourbon, I'll make and Old Fashioned, thank you very much.

My biggest pet peeve about this cocktail, however, is how poorly they are made in restaurants and bars, where I would hope ANY kind of bar training would START with this as the cocktail to mix well. One night I stopped a rather young and mightily misinformed bartender with a loud "WHAT are you DOING?" as I saw him trying to pour some maraschino cherry juice into the mix. In general, the Manhattans I get while out are either too watery, too sweet or have not the slightest hint of bitters within miles--or any of the combination of the three.

Enough of my rambling, I could go on for hours about this fabulous cocktail. And here's a nice BUMP to the topic.

"Democracy is that system of government under which the people…pick out a Coolidge to be head of the State. It is as if a hungry man, set before a banquet prepared by master cooks and covering a table an acre in area, should turn his back upon the feast and stay his stomach by catching and eating flies." H. L. Mencken

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I had an amazing Manhattan recently from Mr. Wondrich at the Taste of New York event where he was mixing up the Manhattan Club Manhattan recipe from his new book.

It was especially tasty since I was working the event and this libation was the perfect thirst quencher after all the drinks we put out.

It was a simple 50/50 M&R and Wild Turkey Rye 101 Manhattan with Angostura Orange, stirred, up with a big fat orange twist.

John

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Anyone who has an interest in the Manhattan (or indeed, more than a passing interest in cocktails at all) should proceed with great alacrity to purchase a copy of Dave Wondrich's newly published Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar. There is a very interesting section therein on the mixological trends that made the Manhattan possible, an outline of the various theories as to it's creator, and several recipes reflecting different takes on the drink.

--

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Here is how I prefer my Manhattan. The Carpano Antica is seriously in my top ten of favorite things in life. Truly lifts cocktails to a new level, especially the Manhattan.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 oz. Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey

1 1/2 oz. Carpano Antica

3 drops Angostura Bitters

3 drops Fee Brothers Orange Bitters

Cherry (garnish)

Method:

1. Add first four ingredients to Boston glass.

2. Add ice and stir rapidly for 30 seconds.

3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

4. Garnish with cherry.

Note: This drink is also good on the rocks.

"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

Thanks, The Hopry

http://thehopry.com/

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2 oz : Rittenhouse Bonded

1 oz : Carpano Antica Formula

1 dash each : Fee's Barrel Aged, Regan's Orange, Absinthe

I need to try mixing up the bitters like that. Typically I'll have the drink as you describe, but use 2 dashes of The Bitter Truth aromatic bitters, which seem to work exceptionally well with the Antica.

Oh, and the dash of absinthe -- this has become de rigueur for my Manhattan mixing lately. Just a dab, but oh, what it does for the drink.

Paul Clarke

Seattle

The Cocktail Chronicles

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  • 5 months later...

Keens and a Cocktail, Frank Bruni

There'll probably be nothing too new in this article for most readers of the Spirits and Cocktails forum.

Still a nicely written article and enjoyable to see some main stream press for a well made classic cocktail.

He smiled. I smiled. This was the first Manhattan I’d liked in a good long while, precisely because the sweetness was ratcheted down. I also happen to be a big fan of rye, and I think it’s a terrific building block for cocktails.

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Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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