Late winter...well, with the temp actually early spring here in PDX, so before the big switchover, there's still time. No, I'm not talking the whole "spring forward" thing from last week (imo...the only thing Bush did right in the trainwreck that is his presidency). And not the wardrobe switchover to warmer weather gear. This is a food and drink blog after all, not a fucking fashion report (although you can bet I've got some opinions on that subject!). I'm not even talking the switch from braising season to grilling season. What is happening is the seasonal change in drinking that happens at my home bar...or any bar I happen to slink in to for that matter...where winter's darker libations are slowly being put to rest for summer's lighter, more gin-y choices. So last night I thoroughly enjoyed the feelings of warmth and well-being of what may well be one of my last Manhattans for a while.
The Manhattan is one of the oldest "original" cocktails, reputedly invented in the 1870s at the Manhattan Club in NYC "where it was invented for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome (Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston's mother) in honor of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. The success of the banquet made the drink fashionable, later prompting several people to request the drink by referring to the name of the club where it originated — the Manhattan cocktail." That's the story from Wikipedia (don't worry wiki-skeptics, it's also confirmed on a couple of other cocktail history sites, too).
So, in honor of Jennie Jerome and her boy-to-be Winston, might I offer you the perfect Manhattan......
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2 oz Rye Whisky
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
Dash Angostura Bitter
Maraschino cherry (and optional orange peel for garnish)
Fill cocktail shaker 1/2 full with ice cubes. Add whisky, vermouth, and bitters. Shake vigorously. Strain into martini glass and garnish with cherry and orange peel.
**Bartenders note: I know a lot of you always order the Maker's Mark Manhattan, and I certainly have a strong appreciation for that choice. But I read an article a couple of months ago from Jason Wilson in the Washington Post where he recommended using rye (with Wild Turkey being a reasonably priced option), and I have to say I'm hooked. The rye is smoother and richer that the Maker's, without any sort of "bite". But don't think I'll ever turn down the offer of a Maker's Manhattan!