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Shall We Talk Manhattans?


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#1 Dillinger

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 04:45 AM

That's about it. Go ahead and let's share some favorites. Personally, I like to use Sazerac rye, Noilly Prat vermouth, and Fernet Branca, and I don't bother with cherries. A poisonously bitter and sharp and entertaining concoction.

Edited by Dillinger, 16 July 2007 - 04:46 AM.

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#2 Robert (DrinkBoy) Hess

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 07:03 AM

Fernet Branca in a Manhattan? Just say no! :->

Not that I am against Fernet, but I'd argue that such a drink would no longer be a Manhattan. This can be a tad of a slippery road, trying to determine at what point slight modifications to "a" recipe turn it into another drink. I sort of use the mindset that if a customer were to come in and ask for a "Manhattan", and you served "your" version, would they be surprised at what it tasted like?

For example, the original sidecar was listed as equal parts cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice. Which I think is unbalanced (one argument is that the lemons being used for this original version weren't as tart?). I instead use 4 parts brandy, 2 parts Cointreau, 1 part lemon juice. I think it is still a Sidecar, just better. On the other hand, the recipe for a "Lemon Drop" should be Vodka, Sugar, Lemon Juice. The idea being that it is a liquid version of the Lemon Drop candy, which is sweet and tart. However many bartenders these days make theirs with the addition of triple sec. I am in total agreement that this is a "better" cocktail, but I'd argue that it is no longer a Lemon Drop... closer to a Kamikazi.

For me, a Manhattan is always American Whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters.

Which whiskey I use can depend on my mood, the weather, and what I might be eating. Maker's Mark Bourbon is essentially my "go to" whiskey for essentially all whiskey cocktails. But Knob Creek, Basil Hayden, Wild Turkey, and many others also work quite well. For Rye, we are unfortunately rather limited here in Washington State. Usually there is none available. When there is, it is either Old Overholt (which is great for the price) or Jim Beam Rye. Rittenhouse is showing up periodically. But no Sazerac yet :-<

For sweet vermouth I personally prefer Martini & Rossi over Noilly Pratt (although for dry I prefer NP).

For bitters I prefer Abbott's, but seeing as eBay is your only way of catching some of that action, Angostura is fabulous as well.

For a garnish, I love to use home-made cherries... ok, so the cherries themselves aren't home-made, but they are home-prepared. I pick up dried bing cherries down at the Pike Place market, and then soak them in whiskey, brandy, or Maraschino liqueur. Absolutely lovely...

So my recipe for a Manhattan is as follows:

Manhattan
- 3 parts American whiskey (rye or bourbon)
- 1 part sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a cherry.



#3 Dillinger

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 07:36 AM

I probably have stretched the definition of "Manhattan" by using Fernet; I do actually enjoy them with Angostura as well. I just substitute "really really bitter" for "bitters," and trick myself into lexical acquiesence.
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#4 Grey Boy

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 08:04 AM

I used to visit a certain bar in Cambridge fairly regularly,
I asked for a Manhattan once,
the bartender poured cherry juice into it.

I corrected her and made her make a proper one and try them both,
she liked the cherry juice one better.

At least whenever I went back she would make it the proper way for me.
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#5 ejellest

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 08:29 AM

[...]
For sweet vermouth I personally prefer Martini & Rossi over Noilly Pratt (although for dry I prefer NP).
[...]

How would you compare the Cinzano Rosso to the M&R?

I've never done a side by side; but, I seem to find Manhattan's made with M&R a bit flat compared to those I make with Cinzano at home.

My absolute favorite Manhattan vermouth is the Carpano Antica. Bit pricey, though.

My ideal Manhattan is something like:

2 oz Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey
3/4 oz Carpano Antica
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir with cracked ice and strain. Sometimes I add a Amarena Toschi Cherry, sometimes not.

But, speaking of Brown liquor cocktails, I just tried this fine drink from Stanley Clisby Arthur's "Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix 'Em" (well, OK, it's a bit bigger than he made it):

Cocktail de la Louisiane

1 oz Wild Turkey Rye
1 oz Carpano Antica
1 oz Benedictine
Generous dash Peychaud bitters
Generous dash Lucid Absinthe

Stir with cracked ice, strain, cherry.

Really yummy.

Fix typo...

Edited by ejellest, 16 July 2007 - 08:56 AM.

Erik Ellestad
Bernal Heights, San Francisco, CA, USA

#6 Dillinger

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 08:32 AM

A bar in Cambridge, you say?
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#7 Grey Boy

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 08:39 AM

Yea, River Gods.
It's a cozy hangout/relaxing place, but not great for talanted bartenders,
if I'm in a cocktail mood I'd go elsewhere,
like Cuchi Cuchi.
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#8 Robert (DrinkBoy) Hess

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 08:51 AM

the bartender poured cherry juice into it.

I corrected her and made her make a proper one and try them both,
she liked the cherry juice one better.

I encounter this a lot. Just as in New Orleans I encounter a lot of Sazerac's with far too much simple syrup in them. Is this coming from an overall "sweet" oriented American palate? Or perhaps just the common need for sweetness when "getting used" to cocktails to begin with, and then getting that flavor engrained into the mind as what it "should" taste like?

All cocktails are not supposed to be liked by all people. In my mind, if you want to add some extra cherry juice to a Manhattan, then perhaps it needs it's own name.


How would you compare the Cinzano Rosso to the M&R?

In a Manhattan I don't care for is as much, however it does work essentially just as good as M&R in a (sweet) Martini (FYI: Just posted my Martini video to http://www.SmallScreenNetwork.com)
(edited to fix url)

My absolute favorite Manhattan vermouth is the Carpano Antica. Bit pricey, though.

Yes, the Antica is delightful isn't it Hiram? Unfortunately not carried by the WA liquor stores :-<

But, speaking of Brown liquor cocktails, I just tried this fine drink from Stanley Clisby Arthur's "Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix 'Em"

Yep. love that Louisiane...

#9 cocktailchronicles

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 11:13 AM

If I'm stuck with a standard vermouth, I prefer the Cinzano Rosso over the M&R or NP -- it has a brighter, lighter taste, whereas I think M&R gives a Manhattan a muddier flavor. But, we're splitting hairs here -- they both work well, they're just different.

Like Erik, I prefer the Carpano Antica; unlike Erik, I much prefer the Rittenhouse bonded to the Sazerac rye in a Manhattan. I think the Sazerac Rye has a lustier, more vivacious taste, which I love in a Sazerac or in the Louisiane. The Rittenhouse is spicier and drier, and it gives a Manhattan a nice, crisp note. Toss in the Carpano Antica and some Bitter Truth aromatic bitters, and I'll follow you anywhere.
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#10 Brooks

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 03:47 PM

Just as in New Orleans I encounter a lot of Sazeracs with far too much simple syrup in them.

Agreed! Do you request less syrup when ordering Sazeracs in New Orleans?

I think over-sweetening is partly a concession to modern tastes, and in New Orleans it's also a concession to tourists, many of whom are weekend party-drinkers. Sophisticated drinking is the LAST thing on their minds! (It's also been my experience that good cocktail bartenders — and NOLA still has a few — are delighted to work with you if you tell them what you want.)

As for the national sweet tooth, we've been adding more sugar to everything since the 1950s. (So have the British, but I don't know if they've embraced sweety-sweet drinks with the same gusto we have.)

All cocktails are not supposed to be liked by all people. In my mind, if you want to add some extra cherry juice to a Manhattan, then perhaps it needs its own name.

A great line.
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#11 Robert (DrinkBoy) Hess

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 05:45 PM

I easily explain the "sweet-sazerac" in New Orleans as being a side-effect of Bourbon Street. Those guys go into a bar and have "heard" of this "sazerac-thing" and so order it, when it comes, the Manly-Man flavor of it is too much for them and so they send it back... time after time this happens, and eventually the bartenders learn to just add more simple syrup to them in order to keep them from coming back.
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#12 Attack Accountant

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 07:54 PM

Drinkboy, if I put all the traditional ingredience of a martini in a blender with ice, add the traditional olives and serve it to myself (because straight liquor is not good for diabetics) can I call it a martini or should I call it a martinfrappe after my late uncle? B)
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#13 Nymphadora

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 11:43 AM

Even though the nation, as a whole, has a sweet tooth, I believe that any cocktail poured in the South will be even sweeter. Our sweet ice teas are a lovely syrupy concotion (to my palate). I think any cocktail made in the South will follow suite.
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#14 speedle

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 06:04 PM

I easily explain the "sweet-sazerac" in New Orleans as being a side-effect of Bourbon Street. Those guys go into a bar and have "heard" of this "sazerac-thing" and so order it, when it comes, the Manly-Man flavor of it is too much for them and so they send it back... time after time this happens, and eventually the bartenders learn to just add more simple syrup to them in order to keep them from coming back.
:3869-sadbanana:


Here here for Manly-Man flavor. I don't put sugar in whisky after all.
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