The Manhattan

Manhattan cocktail

Even though the Martini gets all the press these days, the Manhattan is an older drink with stronger provenance. Where the modern Martini bears little resemblance to its early incarnations, the Manhattan has retained much of the original character. Both can easily find their roots in the 1800’s but were developed on opposite coasts.

My first Manhattan was made with Crown Royal as I will describe below. This seemed like a perfectly reasonable choice for a Manhattan, but for some reason the last couple bar tenders have not agreed.The last time I ordered a Manhattan, their preference was for Maker’s Mark. The traditional whiskey was rye, but like so many modern interpretations of old drinks, bourbon has become the whiskey of choice.

I serve my Crown Royal Manhattans in a martini glass, stirred and straight up. Here’s my recipe:

  • 5cl (1.5oz) Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey
  • 2cl (.5 oz) Sweet Vermouth
  • Dash Angostura bitters

Stir ingredients over a healthy amount of ice until thoroughly chilled. Strain ijnto your glass and garnish as you please. I will zest and rim with orange but any more than that starts to detract from the body of he drink. As far as I know, they didn’t have Maraschino cherries in the 1860’s but that is the common garnish for a Manhattan.

Again like the Martini there are so many variations to the Manhattan, most notably the Rob Roy. Touching back on tradition, a rye heavy bourbon like Bulleit would be good as well as a straight rye like Old Potrero or Sazerac Rye. Other ideas I would endorse include Forty Creek Three Grain (if you can find it), George Dickel (if you can find it). If you’re using a really stiff bourbon, try shaking it.

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