Monday, May 11, 2009


The first drink I made with the intent of blogging about it was a true classic - a Manhattan. This bourbon or rye whiskey based drink is everything a cocktail should be - easy to make, but maddeningly difficult to master. The ability to craft a perfect one (or the lack of that ability) can have profound consequences for anyone aspiring to be called a true Bartender (reference Fat Tony's lamentations about being served a flat, flavorless Manhattan.)

I prefer the rye version of the drink - it's a little more dry than the bourbon version...and I like rye a lot. So there's that. But if you want to tell whether a new watering hole is going to be worth your time, or if a neophyte referring to themselves as a "Bartender" with a capital "B" is the real deal, order a Manhattan. You'll know straight off whether you'll be back, or whether the schlub behind the bar should be swimming with the fishes in the East River.


2 1/2 ounces rye whiskey (Jim Beam Rye, but I prefer Rittenhouse)
1 1/2 Tbsp sweet vermouth (Martini and Rossi)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 small strip orange peel
1 maraschino cherry with stem (I leave these out)

Chill a cocktail glass by filling it with ice and water and let sit (I don't freeze my glasses - creates an unbalanced temperature in the drink...and my freezer isn't that big).
Fill a cocktail shaker 2/3 full with ice. Pour in whiskey and vermouth, then add bitters. Close shaker and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Dump the ice and water out of the glass, and strain cocktail into it immediately. Twist the orange peel between your fingers to release the oils , rub the orange part around the rim, discard the peel. Garnish with cherry if you're into that sorta thing.

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