Friday, April 02, 2010

Rum Manhattan Cocktail: drinking in the face of adversity!

Perhaps you heard the rumblings about the shortage of Angostura Bitters that reverberated through the cocktail world recently. To those who are partial to their perfect Manhattan Cocktail and fearing they might have to go without, this would be roughly the equivalent to learning to wean oneself off of mother's milk. The crux of the issue is that real angostura is the smallest component by far in a Manhattan, but the most important. Without its bitter tang on the finish you have a flat, flabby whisky/sweet vermouth concoction that really isn't worth the glass it's in. Among those who were trembling at the thought of being without a dash or two in their favorite libation was my friend K. K adores Manhattans. K's pursuit of the perfect Manhattan is roughly akin to the fervor with which zombies pursue raw flesh: not just something you like, but something you need to survive. That's why upon hearing about the impending, disastrous, possibly life-altering shortage, and with his own supply dipping precariously low, he set about scouring Portland for a resupply. He finally found some, all the way across town, at this obscure international grocery where he purchased both of their largest sized bottles, which was all they had on and. Seems it was almost all anyone in the city had on hand. Well being restored to his drinking world, K generously shares his bounty with others, myself included. Just don't ask for your Manhattan "extra bitter"!

I tell this story because I found out about the shortage after reading this story by Washington Post booze columnist Jason Wilson. Liking a Manhattan as much as the next right minded barfly, perhaps without K's ardency and certainly not his bloodhound like ability to sniff out the key ingredient, I of course looked for alternatives. Word to the wise: in a perfect Manhattan there is no substitute for Angostura brand bitters. The drastically different Fee Bros. doesn't even come close. So with that in mind and a bar cabinet devoid of the real thing, I took Wilson's advice and made his substitute version offered up in his column, the Rum Manhattan. Now calling anything a "Manhattan" without using whiskey & sweet vermouth is, to some (again your author included) somewhat blasphemous. I get my back up whenever I see a "Chocolate Martini", or even more wretched the "Appletini". Just call them what they are, a "gin cocktail". I felt the same way about the Rum Manhattan, but I was thirsty and really needed a drink. Besides, it's not like I'm the one who came up with the name. What I did end up with was a rather delicious, rich, full-flavored yet balanced drink that I would gladly make again. The addition of the maraschino liqueur, which is quickly becoming my favorite cocktail component, and the dash of orange bitters (thank you for that Fee Bros.) added the perfect counterpoint to the rum and Carpano Antica vermouth. Very worthy of the glass it was poured into, this was an intriguing, complex addition to my personal cocktail repertoire. Just don't call it a Manhattan in certain company!
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Rum Manhattan
from Jason Wilson/Washington Post

2 oz. good quality dark rum
1 oz. sweet vermouth, preferably Carpano Antica
1/2 teaspoon maraschino liqueur
Dash orange bitters
Orange peel for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice and add first four ingredients. Shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds and strain into martini glass. Garnish with an orange peel.


Fanantique- By Elizabeth Lamb said...

yes! Angostura bitters is a great ingredient, a dash of it and a sugar cube can turn a glass of cheap Champagne into something very drinkable!

FoodGardenKitchen said...

I am a big bitters fan, and use various bitters in different cocktails. I use angostura most frequently in my black velvet cocktails, which is 1/3rd guiness stout, 2/3rds sparkling wine (preferably a sweeter one), with a good double-splash of bitters and a sugar cube.

Other than normal Angostura, I enjoy Blood Orange bitters, and Regan's Orange bitters.