The Manhattan. That perfect classic Cocktail. Deceptively simple and IMHO, a thing of beauty and perfection.
How and who created it is debated, but most concur that it was well established by the 1880's. Some say Sir Winston Churchill's mother is who we have thank for it, having been created in her honor at the Manhattan Club; others say that there was a bartender who plied his wares on Broadway, ten doors south of Houston, who concocted it. Whoever did, we raise up our glasses and toast them!
It marries Rye, (though Bourbon is a well accepted today). sweet Vermouth, and bitters. Rye has a spicier less sweet quality that it's Bourbon brother. I myself, drink it exclusively made with Rye, but certainly there is no WRONG way.
The choices amongst Ryes is enormous. Cheap and cheerful goes to Old Overholt, not the star of the show but a decent stand in. Take it up a (slight) notch and Rittenhouse 100 is your guy. Produced in the what is called the Pennsylvania or "Monongahela" tradition. There is also Hudson Manhattan Rye produced by Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner, NY, that is noteworthy because it is seriously delicious and it's local!(Visiting the distillery makes for a great day trip).
Vermouth, that essential tamer of the Cocktail. Vermouth is a kicked up wine enhanced with botanicals. No bar is complete without it. Martini & Rossi, Vya, Dolin, all good. When you want to bring out the big guns, the creme de la creme, Carpano Antico is the one,though more expensive, it is immensely exquisite.
The bitters too, can be chosen from a dizzying array but I stick with Angostura here. The subject of bitters is another entire blog.
As with the ingredients, the recipes vary too. A little more of this, a whisker less of that, I have adapted the one I like (thanks to 12 Bottle Bar)
2 oz. of Rye
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
a large orange peel
Place a coupe glass into the freezer (I like my cocktails COLD)
Add the above ingredients into a mixing glass, and pop it into the freezer for 10 minutes.
Remove the mixing glass, add ice, and stir gently.
Strain the mixture into the coupe glass.
Squeeze large twist of orange peel over the glass, releasing the oils over the cocktail. Run peel over the rim of glass, then toss into drink.
Once sipped you will understand why this simple Cocktail has stood the test of time to become the Classic it is today. To quote Oscar Wilde, “I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.”