Sweet Manhattan

 

Sweet Manhattan

There has been a real resurgence in the bars for true classic cocktails in the past few years, helped in part to the general increase in bartenders knowledge, the rise of  speak easy style bars, and the popularity of cult shows and characters like Don Draper of the hit Mad Men. One of the true classics, and a favourite of many a bartender and customer the world over, is the Sweet Manhattan.

The cocktail (a mix of whiskey and vermouth) was invented sometime around the 1870s, as vermouth was seeing a rise in popularity as a bar ingredient, and is commonly credited to being first made at the Manhattan Club in New York (hence the name).  Very early recipes used an almost equal amount of whiskey to vermouth but over the years this has evolved and the modern cocktail tends to be a much more whiskey heavy drink.

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You will need

  • Cocktail glass or rocks/old fashioned glass
  • Rye whiskey (an American style of whiskey, you can sub with Bourbon if that’s what you have)
  • Sweet Vermouth
  • Angostura Bitters

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Method

Chilling the glass

 

The particular taste of the Manhattan comes from the whiskey:vermouth ratio used when making the drink, so the proportions of each ingredient you use becomes very important. For this example we are going to go for a 5:2 ratio, meaning five parts whiskey to 2 parts vermouth (this is a reasonably classic ratio for a Manhattan).

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If you are going to serve your Manhattan ‘up’ ( in a cocktail glass), then the first step is to get your glass chilling. You can do this by putting your glass in the freezer (if you have space), or taking your glass and adding a couple of ice cubes and some water. This will let the glass cool down while we make our cocktail. This step is not as necessary if we are using a rocks glass as we will have ice in the rocks glass when we serve the cocktail.

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Mixing the cocktail

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Take your mixing glass (the glass that comes with your Boston shaker) and fill it with cubed ice. Measure in 50ml Rye whiskey, 20ml sweet (red) vermouth, and add two dashes of Angostura bitters.

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Stir the liquid in your mixing glass with your bar spoon; the aim is for us to cool the drink down and mix the ingredients, two jobs we should be able to do with around 30 seconds of nice even stirring. Try and stir smoothly around the side of your glass; you want the ice to move around quickly but gently.

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Once the ingredients are nicely mixed and the drink is cold, empty the ice and water from your cocktail glass (it should be getting cold now), and using your Hawthorne strainer, pour the Manhattan into the cocktail glass, making sure you don’t let any ice fall in.

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Garnish

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Last but not least, we can garnish the drink. A traditional garnish for a Sweet Manhattan is a maraschino cocktail cherry (the bright red cherries you can by in a syrup filled jar), or for a slightly different flavour, try an orange twist. To prepare an orange twist you’ll need to cut off a small strip of orange peel, about 1cm x 8cm long, avoiding as much of the bitter white pith on the back as possible.

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Once you have your twist, hold it over the top of your glass and squeeze the skin together – if you have done this correctly you’ll see a spray of orange oil fall on the top of your Manhattan, giving a nice subtle orange flavour to the drink. Now ‘twist’ the orange slice and drop it into your cocktail.

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(If this all seems a little complicated don’t worry – a lesson on garnishes will be up soon explain it all in much more detail!)

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Now it’s time to enjoy your Manhattan!

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Variations to Try

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The Sweet Manhattan has a few other direct family members: the Dry Manhattan, which you can make by substituting the sweet vermouth in the original recipe with dry vermouth, and the Perfect Manhattan, a cocktail made using both sweet and and dry vermouths.

An easy way to play with a Manhattan is to change the brand or amount of vermouth you use; instead of  5:2 ratio you could try 4:2 or 3:2, or you could try using a less common brand, perhaps something like Punt e Mas or Antica.

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You can also play around with the bitters; try increasing or decreasing the number of dashes of Angostura, or lose the Angostura altogether and try another style of bitters completely. There are now a huge range of bitters that could be used in its place, Orange Bitters (such as Reagans or Fee Brothers) or Peychard will give a different flavour to your cocktail

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Finally, you could try skipping the American Rye or Bourbon all together and use Scotch instead; doing this will give you a cocktail known as a Rob Roy.

 

As always, if you have any questions or feedback either leave a comment or contact me, otherwise

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Happy mixing!

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/ David

 

Recommended Products from Amazon for Manhattan Cocktail

Pikesville Rye

Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey 700ml

Regans' Orange Bitters

Regans’ Orange Bitters, 148 ml