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Recipes, Revelations, Refreshments, And Romance, Shaken And Served With A Twist
Consumers are spending more than $40 billion each year on spirits, and it sometimes seems there are nearly 40 billion drinks to choose from. In Good Spirits, A.J. Rathbun has collected 450 of the best cocktail recipes, featuring an incredible variety of spirits, mixers, and garnishes. The recipes are organized by theme, so it’s easy to find the perfect drink for every occasion, and engaging sidebars throughout the book showcase Rathbun’s unabashed passion for and knowledge of his subject. With its stunning, full-color photographs and fresh, lively tone, this is the definitive guide to both classic and contemporary drinks for anyone who appreciates the art of the cocktail.
The Martini gets many of the accolades and the immeasurable endorsement deals, but the Manhattan should rightly be considered the father (or grandfather)
of the cocktail family tree. One of the, if not the, first cocktails to use vermouth as its mixing agent, the Manhattan, by many accounts, constitutes
proof that there’s a benevolent force working for us in the universe. But this nigh-perfect drink didn’t randomly appear as is. The recipe in Jerry Thomas’s
Bar-Tender’s Guide or How to Mix Drinks, from 1862, lists as ingredients: 2 dashes Curaçao or maraschino, 1 pony of rye whiskey, 1
wine-glass of vermouth, and 3 dashes of Boker’s bitters. Now, that’s not exactly what we today know as the Manhattan, with no offense meant to
“The Professor,” without whom we’d all be a bit sadder, as his was one of the first real cocktail books. I suppose even the greats must grow over time.
While the Manhattan seems simple, don’t be deceived. It’s a deadly simplicity (like driving through the Midwest. It seems simple enough, but then you’re
in the middle of western Nebraska, miles away from a gas station with no way to get the car started). With the right balance of vermouth to the right rye
or whiskey, you’ll find yourself in the seventh plane of drinker’s heaven. If using a forceful whiskey, stick with the ratio below. If going with a smoother,
lighter whiskey, don’t be shy about cutting back a bit on the vermouth. But don’t cut back too much, because the vermouth doesn’t like being left out.
On the same token, start with the two dashes of bitters, and then add a bit more as need and desire demands.
2-1/2 ounces bourbon or rye
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherry for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters. Pause a moment, in honor of all the Manhattans
drunk before yours. Then shake well.
Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
A tip: I suggest Angostura bitters with a Manhattan, but if you’d like to experiment with Peychauds or an orange bitters, I surely
wouldn’t caution against it. And, if you can find Boker’s bitters (referenced above), please get in touch with me asap, as it’s been unseen for many years.
A note: Here’s a bar challenge to throw out when ordering Manhattans. Who know in what year the now-lost film “Manhattan Cocktail” was released?
I believe only a 1-minute sequence from the film survives today, so this can be a bit of a doozy.
A second note: If you feel like it, you can stir this well over ice instead of shaking.