Well, it is 5 o’clock on Friday afternoon here in San Francisco. Time for a cocktail.
A Manhattan is one of the 5, or so great foundation cocktails. Like many simple recipes, the quality of the ingredients used contributes to the greatness of the result.
At its most basic level, a Manhattan is 2 to 3 parts whiskey mixed with about 1 part sweet vermouth and garnished with a cherry. I prefer Rye Whiskey in a Manhattan and there are many to chose from including some that are local and very small batch. A reliable choice for me is Bulleit Rye – a straight 95% rye mash whiskey made in small batches.
More important than the choice of whiskey is the choice of sweet vermouth for this contributes strongly to the taste and smoothness of the cocktail. For me, there is only one choice here (also mentioned in the earlier recipe for a Negroni cocktail) – Carpano Antica Formula. This Italian vermouth is the original version and can be considered the foundation for a modern cocktail. There is no substitute I can recommend and to me without Carpano a Manhattan is not enjoyable.
To the cherry garnish. Avoid using the bright red maraschino cherries available at your local grocery store. If at all possible use Luxardo Maraschino Cherries, which are the original maraschino cherry and can often be found in good food or liquor stores (Williams Sonoma often has them for instance). These are a deeply flavored and dark burgundy in color. You may see some other dark, preserved cherries, which are similar, and these would be a better choice than the bright red variety if Luxardo cannot be found.
- 1 cup ice
- 2-1/2 ounces of Rye Whiskey
- 1 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes Bitters (Peychaud’s is often used. I used Fee Brothers here)
- 1 Luxardo Maraschino Cherry
- In a shaker, or large glass combine ice, whiskey, vermouth and bitters. Stir (do not shake) vigorously.
- Stain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a Maraschino Cherry.