Friday, July 25, 2008

Cocktail classic: The Manhattan

Every other week (when I remember) I check out Jason Wilson's spirits column in the Washington Post website. He has an interesting takes on current drink trends, as well well as...and I find these even more in tune with my old school cocktail ethic...regular commentary on classic cocktails.

In his July 9th column, he had this to say about the drink that along with the gin martini is at the pinnacle of the cocktail pyramid, the legend that is the Manhattan. My favorite passage from this day's ramblings comes after he reports on a cocktail tasting in D.C. where various local bar talent were trying to outmix each other using, among other things "rose hips, yuzu juice, truffle oil, tarragon soda, homemade celery bitters, Sichuan pepper, tonka bean syrup and cherrywood-smoked white pepper meringue." He followed that list of unnecessary bar fluffery with this perfectly stated observation which I completely agree with: "Creativity is to be admired, and it's certainly exciting to fancy oneself a "bar chef." Maybe I'm just a classicist at heart, but a lot of contemporary cocktails bring to mind Robert Frost's assertion that writing free-verse poetry is like playing tennis without a net."

Now you all have some knowledge of my reverence for and love of a perfect gin martini. Hell, all things gin get my mind wandering off the the nearest bar stool. But being a cocktailista who embraces diversity, I also have been known to sip contentedly at a deliciously coppertoned Manhattan. I usually reserve it for the cooler fall and winter months, but after reading Jason's prose, I may have to get in touch with my rye side tonight!

You can find my house version...I think I'll call it the 1309 Manhattan since all drinks seem to need names now...which I humbly think is the best you'll ever roll across your tastebuds by clicking right here. Below is Jason's recipe for his Perfect Manhattan, and check out the column for yet another option.
*** *** ***
Perfect Manhattan
from Jason Wilson

1 1/2 to 2 ounces good-quality bourbon, such as Russell's Reserve, Woodford Reserve or Maker's Mark
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 maraschino cherry, for garnish

Fill a mixing glass two-thirds full with ice. Add the bourbon to taste, the vermouths and the bitters. Stir vigorously for 30 seconds, then strain into cocktail (martini) glass. Garnish with the cherry.

picture from the Washington Post

1 comment:

Shady Character said...

The only reason to look forward to fall/winter, if that's even possible, is that it's time to break out the brown liquors. I love a good Manhattan and will try your recipe when the time comes.

I enjoyed the Jason Wilson column. Thanks for sharing it. When I see those competitions I'm reminded of haute couture fashion shows: they're showing off to each other and the fashion/food "in" crowds, not making clothes and drinks for real people.