Holiday Cheer — the Perfect Manhattan

Manhattan Cocktail

It’s crunch time for Thanksgiving. You’ve probably planned your menu, done your shopping and begun cooking. All I can offer at this point is courage. Liquid courage. Chances are, at some point this weekend, between the family and the food and the football and the Friday sales, you will need a drink. And chances are, with the Christmas season coming up, you’ll need more than one. And so I present to you that most hallowed of cold season classic cocktails: The Manhattan.

Manhattan Cocktail

I tasted my first Manhattan, appropriately enough, in Manhattan, at a tiny Greenwich Village restaurant, and I was hooked. A little sweet, but not too sweet, a little spicy, with warm herbal notes from the bitters — this cocktail tasted like autumn leaves and fireplaces and tailgating and all of the good things about fall and winter. And you can add to that the glamour quotient of drinking a very classic cocktail — you are never embarrassed by ordering a Manhattan, whether you’re on a date, at a client lunch, at a party with friends or meeting your inlaws for the first time. It’s the little black dress of cocktails.

Manhattan 3

Over the years, I’ve tasted a lot of Manhattans, and I’ve gotten picky enough that I prefer to mix them at home (though if you’re in Los Angeles, Cole’s in Downtown LA has the best classic Manhattan I’ve had in a restaurant in recent memory). I prefer them made with rye whiskey, instead of bourbon (rye is the traditional whiskey for a Manhattan– it’s also more flavorful and spicier, with a finish nicely smoothed by the Vermouth). My favorite rye is Rittenhouse, which has the bonus of being relatively inexpensive, but Piketown, which has a smoother, lighter flavor and is similarly cheap, is a nice alternative. I’ve tried different Vermouths as well — Martini & Rossi is fine, Punt y Mes is good, with a slight bitter edge, but if you can find it, my money is on Vya Vermouth, which has an herbal profile almost more like a fine liqueur than a vermouth. Some people like a “perfect” Manhattan, which has equal parts sweet and dry vermouth, but my personal opinion is that the perfect Manhattan is made with sweet vermouth only. Finish it off with bitters (Angostura, always. I’ve tried orange bitters and they’re just not as good). Many bars serve Manhattans shaken with ice and strained into a martini glass, but I’m a klutz and I like my lowballs, on the rocks.

You can put a maraschino in for garnish, but I prefer amarena cherries in syrup — they are wildly expensive and totally worth it.

Manhattan Cocktail

This may not be the perfect Manhattan, but I’ve come to realize the perfect Manhattan exists only in my mind. This is pretty darn close. When you’re in need of a little extra holiday cheer, mix yourself a Manhattan. And after a few of them, trust me, EVERYTHING will seem perfect.

Cheers!

The Best Manhattan Cocktail-
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 2 oz. rye whiskey (try Rittenhouse or Piketown)
  • 1.25 oz. sweet vermouth (try Vya)
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 amarena cherries
Instructions
  1. Combine first three ingredients over ice in a lowball glass. Stir gently, and garnish with amarena cherries.

 

8 comments to Holiday Cheer — the Perfect Manhattan

  • Ken

    The husband does not usually comment. But on this subject I feel compelled:

    Savour and I respectfully disagree on the inclusion of dry vermouth, which in my view allows the drink to retain more of the spicy flavor of the rye, without sacrificing the aroma bequeathed by the sweet vermouth. It also makes the drink less…erm…sweet, obviously.

    But it’s a minor point. In reality, the only perfect Manhattan, is your next one. Her formulation is terrific, and Vya is the best vermouth you will ever taste.

  • Oh my! I hope I have some bitters around somewhere, because a Manhattan would hit the spot!

  • Well, I hope to be drinking an awesome cocktail like this one is just about 3 weeks (after the baby drops). Thanks for posting! xo

  • Joy

    I have a certain fondness for Manhattans, not because I drink them but for a wholly different reason. A long time ago I dated the son of a gruff, kind of mean looking police officer. Ron scared me half to death when I was newly 19 and in my first year of university but he was always kind to me. His favourite drink was a Manhattan and it was my first shift as a bartender when he came in with his wife and ordered the drink. I haven’t a clue if I made it correctly but he never said anything except to order another with a smile.

  • wow! what a delicious recipe! I just love it :)

  • I have a certain fondness for Manhattans, not because I drink them but for a wholly different reason. A long time ago I dated the son of a gruff, kind of mean looking police officer. Ron scared me half to death when I was newly 19 and in my first year of university but he was always kind to me. His favourite drink was a Manhattan and it was my first shift as a bartender when he came in with his wife and ordered the drink. I haven’t a clue if I made it correctly but he never said anything except to order another with a smile.

  • wow! what a delicious recipe! I just love it :)

  • Well, I hope to be drinking an awesome cocktail like this one is just about 3 weeks (after the baby drops). Thanks for posting! xo

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Rate this recipe: