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Published On: Sat, Feb 20th, 2021

How to Make a Manhattan

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How to Make a Manhattan

The Manhattan demands respect. It is brazen: a heavy pour of rye or bourbon, sweet vermouth, and aromatic bitters. It is rich, with strong flavors both spicier and sweeter. It is strong. You make it carefully, and then you sip it slowly, because it is a drink that you earn from a hard day’s work. Since the very act of emerging from underneath a duvet and facing another day in your life more than qualifies as hard labor after the year we’ve had, that’s quite a few well-earned Manhattans coming your way.

In the annals of cocktail-making, the Manhattan is an all-around heavyweight champion. There’s some debate over rye versus bourbon (rye jabs sharply, so we tend to prefer it), cocktail cherry versus lemon twist or both. It’s a drink that lends itself to riffing should you be in the mood. You can tinker with your whiskey and vermouth and even the ratio between to two (within reason) until the recipe you’ll always place your bets on emerges. While 2 ounces of whiskey to 1 ounce of sweet vermouth is the standard, going with 2.5 ounces of rye can make for a transcendent drink. Feel free to swap out bitters for variety, but you’ll find yourself coming home to Angostura 97% of the time. And an expressed lemon twist will take the drink to a higher plain. Consider knowing how to make your Manhattan is like knowing how to properly shake hands. No weak wrists for the handshake. No ice in the cocktail. Have at it.

A Little Background

You want to know why the Manhattan is called the Manhattan? Because it is one of the best damn cocktails on record, so they named it for the best damn city in the world. Well, perhaps its origin story is not quite so jingoistic, but it’s close. The Manhattan cocktail’s origins are commonly traced back to the Manhattan Club, in Manhattan, in the latter half of the 19th Century, where it was crafted for a party thrown by Winston Churchill’s mother. As drinks historian David Wondrich points out, that’s a load of bull; Lady Randolph Churchill was pregnant in England at the time of this rumored party.

But the Manhattan Club did hoard very old rye, and it did serve a Manhattan cocktail, though its recipe was different at the time. Things evolved from there. During Prohibition, Manhattans had to be served with Canadian whisky—the only whisky people could get their hand on. And, despite the years, the Manhattan is still being enjoyed in New York and all the other great metropolises. It’s that good.

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If You Like This, Try These

The other very good, very classic whiskey cocktail that is made with rye or bourbon is the Old Fashioned. You know that one. Try a Whiskey Sour with rye, too. The Sazerac is another rye whiskey cocktail rich with history that you’ll like. If your flavor preferences veer across the Atlantic, try a Rob Roy, which is a Manhattan made with scotch. And this is cool: the Manhattan has a New York borough neighbor, the Brooklyn cocktail, that’s made with rye, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and Amer Picon.

On a parting note, we give you a formula to batch your Manhattan so you can keep a premade jug of it in the freezer. Because while one Manhattan is nice, a weeklong supply of Manhattans is pure efficiency.

Food styling by Sean Dooley
Prop Styling by Summer Moore

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Published at Wed, 17 Feb 2021 16:53:00 +0000

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How to Make a Manhattan