Whiskey Cocktail Hour: Improved Perfect Manhattan - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Cocktail Hour: Improved Perfect Manhattan

The Manhattan is a cocktail with a lot of history. Like many stories that have been passed from one bartender to another, there are endless versions. And like many bar stories and cocktail recipes, there is no one universally agreed-upon anecdote. Some say that the Manhattan was a drink made up by a bartender at the Manhattan Club in the 1870’s for a fabulous event hosted by none other than Winston Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolph Churchill. Another popular version of the Manhattan origin story puts the Manhattan in league with a variety of classic cocktails named after New York City boroughs– think the Bronx (gin, dry and sweet vermouths, and orange juice), or the Brooklyn (whiskey, dry vermouth, maraschino, and amer picon).

No matter the true origin of the classic Manhattan, it remains a great jumping off point for a variety of riffs. For this cocktail, I wanted to combine two riffs to create the perfect light Manhattan for summer. As summer ramps up, drinking spirit-forward cocktails becomes less and less appealing. However, I have always enjoyed a Perfect Manhattan for summer; the combination of sweet and dry vermouths lends a lighter body and scaled back sweetness that just works.

The Manhattan is a cocktail with a lot of history. Like many stories that have been passed from one bartender to another, there are endless versions. And like many bar stories and cocktail recipes, there is no one universally agreed-upon anecdote. Some say that the Manhattan was a drink made up by a bartender at the Manhattan Club in the 1870’s for a fabulous event hosted by none other than Winston Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolph Churchill. Another popular version of the Manhattan origin story puts the Manhattan in league with a variety of classic cocktails named after New York City boroughs-- think the Bronx (gin, dry and sweet vermouths, and orange juice), or the Brooklyn (whiskey, dry vermouth, maraschino, and amer picon). No matter the true origin of the classic Manhattan, it remains a great jumping off point for a variety of riffs. For this cocktail, I wanted to combine two riffs to create the perfect light Manhattan for summer. As summer ramps up, drinking spirit-forward cocktails becomes less and less appealing. However, I have always enjoyed a Perfect Manhattan for summer; the combination of sweet and dry vermouths lends a lighter body and scaled back sweetness that just works. Typically, a classic Manhattan uses a two to one ratio: two parts spirit to one part sweet vermouth. Stir, serve up, garnish with a cocktail cherry, and ta da! A Perfect Manhattan splits the vermouth portion between darker sweet vermouth and lighter dry vermouth. The resulting cocktail is a more refreshing, warm weather-friendly version of the classic Manhattan. For this cocktail, I wanted to up the refreshing, summery aspects one step further. To do so, I combine one part spirit, half a part of dry vermouth, half a part of sweet vermouth, and a bar spoon of Luxardo Maraschino. Adding Luxardo Maraschino to a classic spirit-forward cocktail not only brings a dusty cherry element forward, it also makes it “improved”—a term used to describe a minor tweak to an existing classic cocktail recipe, often—but not always—a spoonful of maraschino. For example, an Improved Old Fashioned has two parts whiskey, one bar spoon demerara sugar syrup, one bar bar spoon maraschino, a few dashes angostura bitters, and an orange peel garnish. .Check out this short article by Imbibe for more on this fascinating topic. My Improved Perfect Manhattan 2oz rye whiskey (I had Masterson’s at home, but I would suggest a slightly higher proof if you’re brave) .5oz dry vermouth (I prefer Noilly Prat, but Dolin Dry works in a pinch) .5oz sweet vermouth (I used Dolin Rouge, but if you prefer a slightly spicier vermouth I like Carpano Antica or even Punt e Mes) One bar spoon (approx. .1oz) Luxardo Maraschino Instructions: Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until cold. Strain into a coupe, garnish with a lemon twist, and enjoy!

Typically, a classic Manhattan uses a two to one ratio: two parts spirit to one part sweet vermouth. Stir, serve up, garnish with a cocktail cherry, and ta da! A Perfect Manhattan splits the vermouth portion between darker sweet vermouth and lighter dry vermouth. The resulting cocktail is a more refreshing, warm weather-friendly version of the classic Manhattan.

For this cocktail, I wanted to up the refreshing, summery aspects one step further. To do so, I combine one part spirit, half a part of dry vermouth, half a part of sweet vermouth, and a bar spoon of Luxardo Maraschino. Adding Luxardo Maraschino to a classic spirit-forward cocktail not only brings a dusty cherry element forward, it also makes it “improved”—a term used to describe a minor tweak to an existing classic cocktail recipe, often—but not always—a spoonful of maraschino.

For example, an Improved Old Fashioned has two parts whiskey, one bar spoon demerara sugar syrup, one bar bar spoon maraschino, a few dashes angostura bitters, and an orange peel garnish. .Check out this short article by Imbibe for more on this fascinating topic.

Manhattan Cocktail

Improved Perfect Manhattan

  • 2oz rye whiskey (I had Masterson’s at home, but I would suggest a slightly higher proof if you’re brave)
  • .5oz dry vermouth (I prefer Noilly Prat, but Dolin Dry works in a pinch)
  • .5oz sweet vermouth (I used Dolin Rouge, but if you prefer a slightly spicier vermouth I like Carpano Antica or even Punt e Mes)
  • One bar spoon (approx. .1oz) Luxardo Maraschino

Instructions: Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until cold. Strain into a coupe, garnish with a lemon twist, and enjoy!

 


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