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Manhattan Three Ways

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Manhattan Three Ways

Manhattans are one of my favorite cocktails that I never make at home. It's my designated "going out" cocktail because it's one I can confidently get from any bar that's advertising cocktails, and it will almost always taste the same. Even through the last year of teaching virtual classes and finding new favorite drinks, the Manhattan still has my heart in a way that surprises me, and I've decided I'm going to make a point to drink more of them at home. 

For those of you who aren't familiar with this cocktail, it is a pre-prohibition cocktail consisting of three basic ingredients: whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. The proportions are also ideal for the home bartender—all you need is twice as much whiskey as vermouth (called a 2:1 parts ratio) and a few dashes of angostura and voila! You have a professional cocktail before you! 

When I'm making manhattans, there are a few things I consider:

1. Whiskey Type 

What kind of whiskey you choose for your cocktail is going to heavily influence the drink. Bourbon will generally produce a slightly sweeter and softer drink because the whiskey is less aggressive and often lower in proof. Rye will make a spicier, hotter drink because of its higher alcohol content. Which one you choose is up to you—I generally prefer rye but there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the Manhattan! 

2. Vermouth

I will scream it from the rooftops for as long as I live: Stop buying bad vermouth! Just stop. There's no reason for it. Great vermouth isn't that much pricier than bad vermouth, but the flavor difference is extreme. Opting for a higher quality vermouth is, in my opinion, the most important part of a Manhattan, not the whiskey. With one whole ounce in each drink, this isn't a dash of liqueur or bitters, its a core component of what's going into the glass and you should treat it with just as much respect as the base spirit. 

Pro-tip: Vermouth is a fortified wine meaning it doesn't have the shelf life of a regular spirit. Once opened, it needs to be refrigerated and finished within about 3-4 weeks. I suggest buying a smaller 375mL bottle unless you're having a party or it's going to be the only thing you drink. 

3. Glassware

Glassware isn't just there to make your drink look great. It also serves a purpose. The stem of a coupe glass allows you to hold your drink without the heat of your hands warming it up, maintaining the perfect chilly temperature. I love putting a couple of smaller coupes in the freezer about 20 minutes before I make my drink to ensure the glass itself is very cold before the cocktail is poured into it. 

Check out these three Manhattans to enjoy this week at home!

Classic Manhattan 

  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth, such as Cocchi Vermouth di Torino 
  • 3 Dashes Angostura Bitters 
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
  • Cherry
  1. Combine whiskey, vermouth, and bitters in a mixing glass with ice. 
  2. Stir well until cold, about 30 seconds. 
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
  4. Add a cocktail cherry and enjoy!

Black Manhattan 

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz Medium Amaro, such as Averna or Cynar 
  • 3 Dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Bar spoon Cherry Syrup
  1. Combine whiskey, amaro, bitters, and cherry syrup in a mixing glass with fresh ice. 
  2. Stir well until cold, about 30 seconds. 
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
  4. Enjoy! This is normally a cocktail I enjoy without a garnish but there's also never a bad time for a Luxardo cherry. 

Morning Star

  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey 
  • .5 oz Sweet Vermouth 
  • .5 oz Strawberry Infused Blanc Vermouth 
  • 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Orange Peel 
  1. Combine whiskey, both vermouths, and bitters in a mixing glass with ice. 
  2. Stir well until cold, about 30 seconds. 
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
  4. Peel off a strip of orange skin. Facing the skin side of the peel towards the cocktail, pinch gently to release the citrus oils over the surface of the drink. Trim the peel to sit on the edge of the glass and enjoy! 

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