Originally written August 22, 2015
Adventures of Home Mixology
The first time I tried a Manhattan cocktail was when I made one for myself. One could argue that it is then impossible for me to have good reference to know a great Manhattan.
I never had a Manhattan because was really not a fan of whiskey because the times I had sipped some it was some low-shelf brand that blasted my tastebuds. Why would I even consider trying a Manhattan if I disliked whiskey?
Recently, a longtime friend turned me onto 16 year old Single Malt whiskeys. It was one of those moments that turned on a light for me. Instead of having my tastebuds being assaulted, they were being beguiled by swirls of smooth smokiness and warmth. I was on my way getting the taste of whiskeys.
Then I was gifted with Whistlepig rye whiskey and at the time it really did not turn me on in comparison to the single malt scotch whiskey. It sat there patiently until I could figure out what to do with it.
As my home bar started to accumulate bottles, I bought a shaker and started making myself cocktails. I asked myself, “What should I do with this almost full bottle of Whistlepig?”
I looked up rye whiskey cocktails and Manhattan recipes were abound. So, making a top shelf Manhattan seemed to be the most reasonable option. Searching many cocktail blogs, the consensus was that 2 oz of Whistlepig was one of the best base rye whiskey you can use. Then add 1 oz of Carpano Antica, an italian sweet vermouth. After that, add two dashes of Aromatic bitters and marachino cherry garnish.
The bitters I used was 1 dash of Peychauds bitter and 1 dash of Orange Bitters. I skipped the marachino cherry garnish because I am not fond of cherries. I have since read about getting a jar of Luxardo cherries because they are not sickening sweet as I have experienced cherries to be. Luxardo is said to add a really sublime complexity to a Manhattan, so I will give it a try.
You put these ingredients into a shaker with a half cup of ice. They will tell you to stir it until cold and then strain it into a glass. I just shake it until icy and then strain it into the cocktail glass.
You are going to have little slivers of ice in the cocktail which is fine with me. Before I strain it in a cocktail glass I chill the glass in the ice bin in the freezer. This gives the glass a cool frosty patina and makes sure you have a beautifully chilled cocktail.
My philosophy of anything is that if the individual components that you are using to build something are of high quality and you follow best practices, you will get an outstanding result. The Whistlepig, Peychauds, Carpano Antica, and Orange Bitters were all high quality, so what can go wrong if I do the measurements right?
Nothing. This drink was and is sublime. The beautifully complex, sweet spiciness of the Whistlepig just sang out. Personally, I hate sweet cocktails, but this sweetness in the Whistlepig and Carpano was only there to support all the other cornucopia of spices and flavor profiles. Deep in the heat of Summer this cocktail is surprisingly refreshing, but it can easily make itself perfect in the dead of winter sitting on a leather couch in front of a fire.
It was such a beautiful drink, I cannot bear to ever order one at a bar because I am certain it will be comparatively lacking. That is how good it tasted.
Do yourself a favor. Go out, gather these ingredients, and make yourself this magical Manhattan.