Current Cocktail: My Manhattan

The manhattan. It’s a classic. It’s delicious. It’s my favorite.

For the uninitiated, a manhattan is, at it’s essence, a whiskey martini. The main difference being that a manhattan is full of flavor and a martini is more bite than taste.

Like a martini, a manhattan has two main ingredients, a spirit and a vermouth. Additionally, the manhattan needs a few dashes of bitters.

Most agree that rye whiskey is the original spirit used in the manhattan. Bourbon followed soon after so both will do fine in this drink. Technically, any whiskey (other than scotch, that makes a Rob Roy) will work. Please, learn from my mistakes. Stick to Bourbon and Rye.

Manhattans call for sweet/red vermouth (a strong red wine fortified with herbs and spices) in a 1:2 ration with whiskey. The problem with that ratio is that it doesn’t take into account the sweetness and strength of the vermouth itself nor that of the whiskey. It’s hard to go wrong with a 1:2 ratio but understanding your ingredients and how to use them will bring the cocktail from good to great.

If a manhattan is anything, it’s spicy and sweet, in that order. Most mediocre manhattans suffer from being too sweet. A sweet bourbon mixed with an overly sweet vermouth can get cloying. I drank bourbon manhattans for years before making the jump to rye to help solve this problem. I find that a strong rye mixed with a sweet, heavy vermouth makes for a wonderful drink.

After years of experimentation, I’ve come up with a manhattan that I’m truly proud of. It’s a 1:3 ratio of vermouth and whiskey that’s slightly larger than average and very spice forward while retaining much of the sweetness from the vermouth.

My Manhattan

  • 3oz, Bulleit Rye  (Stong, spicy, reasonably priced)
  • 1oz, Martini Riserva Speciale Rubino Vermouth (Rich, sweet, spicy)
  • 4-5 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass full of ice. Stir until well chilled. Pour into a cocktail glass (I prefer coupes) and garnish with a brandied cherry.

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Current Cocktail: Penicillin

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At a time when both the weather and current events make you want to medicate, booze can be a common first line of defence. Grandpappy’s medicine had a way of warding off disease and demons. Maybe even a certain orange-tinged goblin.

The thing is, Grandpappy didn’t have this specific cure-for-what-ails-ya, though one taste will make you swear you were sipping on a favorite of Hughes or Hemingway. Penicillin (the cocktail not the antibiotic) shares a birth year not with a washing machine or a jukebox but with the XBox 360. Continue reading

Current Cocktail: The Boulevardier

The Boulevardier

This is the standard, traditional method of serving a Boulevardier. The drink depicted is poured as a double.

So at the behest of my buddy and fellow author, KM Alexander, I’m going to start a new series here on this old blog. Current Cocktails (his title, credit where credit is due) is going to be a series detailing the cocktails and other imbibements that accompany me through the adventure of writing. For better or worse.

The first cocktail in this series is tied to my current WIP (Work In Progress).  All in this series will be linked to some current work. As I have discussed in a previous post, I tend to be a bit of a method writer and I’ve found that alcohol adds a pleasant aspect to experiencing the lives of the characters we write. My current novel is set in 1920’s Paris and as such, cocktails abound. Those of the American Lost Generation flocked to Paris’ booze soaked establishments to drink cheap and live large. Today’s cocktail is attributed to one such American expat, Erskine Gwynne, writer and founder of the Boulevardier, a short lived monthly magazine printed in Paris and the source of this cocktail’s name.

Also, you can be pretty sure that if I’m writing about a drink I’m also drinking that drink at the time so all the details I provide will be full on, in your face, hard hitting journalism. Or at least tipsy musings on tasty beverages. Either way. Enjoy.

The Boulevardier

This delightful concoction is basically the bastard child of the Manhattan and the Negroni. In true Manhattan fashion, either bourbon or rye whiskey will work. Also in true Manhattan fashion, traditionalists will argue ad nauseam about which is correct however, when rye is used, the drink is more often referred to as the “Old Pal” which is such a great name. As for the Negroni half of the family, Campari is the star of the show. It’s insane red color and bitter bite both shine through. Anyway, on to the recipe. Continue reading