September 22, 2010
To heart shaped leaves, Winning personal bets, And faring as well as you this season!
– Graeme Robert Jamieson
An atmosphere of falling leaves, frosted breathe, houndstooth warmth, and hearty meals demands a cocktail that fits the mood. One’s cocktail should change with the seasons. This is really intuitive because similar to food, a cocktail for cooler months should leave the drinker with a feeling of warmth and hearty satisfaction. So shelve your Mojitos, Rickeys, Bucks, Juleps, and other summertime cocktails until the flowers’ next bloom, as autumn is a time for stiff drinks.
The Manhattan cocktail fits that bill. In addition to the classic cocktail pedigree, the drink embodies this time of year. The combination of American rye, sweet vermouth, and bitters is so simple yet delivers a complex taste and visually matches the foliage. The original version of the cocktail has been written about in depth. It is one of the classics, a minimum requirement for the cocktail savvy. So, I will focus on Manhattan’s derivatives, enhancements, and Brooklyn “cugini.”
There are many ways to enhance or improve the typical Manhattan. I enjoy rinses such as a single malt scotch (10 or 12 year Islay like Arbeg or Laphroig) to add smoky aromatics or Fernet Branca to bring extra herbal bitterness to the cocktail. These are just easy methods to amp up the typical recipe. Different types of bitters and a twist instead of a brandied cherry add to the flavor profile.
The best variation of the Manhattan that is being used as a veritable palette by mixologists is the Perfect Manhattan. In its basic form, the Perfect Manhattan is 2 oz of rye, ½ oz of sweet vermouth, ½ oz dry vermouth, 1 dash orange bitters, 1 dash aromatic bitters. Experimentation takes place on the vermouth side of the formula.
In the past five years, barkeepers have been tinkering with the traditional recipe, getting rid of the vermouths and substituting amaros, Chartreuse, maraschino, or another fortified wine like sherry. An elder Manhattan cousin, the Brooklyn Cocktail (which uses an orange flavored amaro called Amer Picon) is the original inspiration behind the proliferation of the Brooklyn “neighborhood” cocktails. I call them the cugini (Italian translation for cousins) because amaros are the popular modifying spirit used to change the traditional Perfect Manhattan or Brooklyn Cocktail recipes.
The best of the cugini cocktails are the Red Hook (which uses Punt e Mes vermouth along with maraschino in lieu of dry vermouth), the Greenpoint (yellow Chartreuse in lieu of dry vermouth), and Bensonhurst (maraschino and Cynar in lieu of sweet vermouth).
So celebrate the Autumnal equinox with a stiff seasonal drink that is a tough enough drink worthy of their namesake neighborhoods.
By Michael McIlroy of Milk & Honey
2 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz Dolin sweet vermouth
Dash of orange bitters
Dash of Angostura bitters
Lemon peel garnish
Combine ingredients over ice, stir rigorously, and strain into cocktail glass, serve with lemon peel.
By Chad Solomon formerly of Pegu Club
2 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye
1 oz Noilly Pratt dry vermouth
1/3 oz of Luxardo Maraschino
1 barspoon of Cynar
Combine ingredients over ice, stir rigorously, and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Lemon peel garnish is optional.
*Fredo Ceraso is the editor of the lounge lifestyle blog Loungerati. He is head cocktailian and a co-producer of The Salon parties. He is a member of the USBG New York and rolls drinks at many Lounge, Swing, Jazz Age, & Burlesque events in New York City.
**Got a cocktail question? Reach Fredo on twitter @loungerati, email me at fredo(at)loungerati(dot)com, or simply drop me a comment below!
***Paystyle will return in two weeks for his Happy Hour column and is delighted to have Fredo as a pinch hitter in the meantime.