The Art of the Manhattan

by Sonny Bunch on February 20, 2012

There’s a fun piece in the Wall Street Journal today about The Manhattan and why it’s so versatile a cocktail. Writes Kevin Sintumuang:

It’s a rare cocktail that takes well to tinkering—try toying with, say, a mojito, and you’ll get one that tastes marginally different from the one you shook up earlier, or one that needs to go down the drain. Yet in the case of the Manhattan, 97.8% of the time the result of your seemingly haphazard experimentation will be revelatory payoff. Use rye instead of bourbon, swap Cinzano for Carpano, give some orange or Creole bitters a try, tweak the proportions—it’s like liquid jazz, man!—and the drink undergoes a transformation.

This is entirely true. The Manhattan is pretty much the only cocktail I make in which I don’t judiciously measure the ingredients: splashes (of vermouth) substitute for measuring spoons and dashes (of bitters) vary depending on my mood. I’ll usually measure out the proper amount of liquor (2 oz), but the brown stuff varies just as equally as the other ingredients: Weller 107 one day, maybe some Hudson the next.

I’d never do the same with an old fashioned: 2 oz Old Weller Antique, 1 tsp syrup, three dashes Angostura, twist of lemon, twist of orange. A cherry for garnish if I’m feeling adventurous.

The best Manhattan I’ve had in DC I drank at Quill*, the bar in the Jefferson Hotel. It doesn’t appear to be on the menu any more, which is unfortunate, but it was something else. I would not recommend the Manhattan they currently have on the menu. The Cran-apple Manhattan sounds like a disaster.

*Quill is probably the most underrated cocktail bar in the city. It’s not cheap — $15 a cocktail — but the drinks are amazing. Pull up a seat at the bar and watch the bartender do his thing; it’s worth the premium for a special occasion.

(Photo by Mike_Fleming)

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G Lawyer June 6, 2012 at 2:06 pm

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