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Age : 51
Location : NW Minnesota
Registration date : 2012-03-27

Made in Manhattan? Empty
PostSubject: Made in Manhattan?   Made in Manhattan? EmptySun May 27, 2012 2:07 pm

Any other Manhattan drinkers out there? I'm sure there are. I have been hooked on the concoction since a stop in a downtown Minneapolis, MN establishment (Ike's for those in the know) where the staff wear tuxedo jackets and white aprons, the floors are 1" hex tiles, and the bathrooms have stacks of cloth hand towels. The kind of place where you can wear a jacket and take your lady for a good cocktail and atmosphere, or pop in wearing golf shorts after a round and have a roast beef sandwich. Dark wood, low ceilings, jazz standards on the PA. The bartender knows the finer points of last night's hockey game, current stock prices, and can probably tell you the best cuts of meat to serve at your weekend barbeque. He might even call your date a "dame" for effect.

I keep Manhattan ingredients on hand at home, and make them a lot. I also order as my go-to "real" cocktail when I'm out. And this is the impetus for my posting - how many bartenders in mid to upper scale establishments can't make one to save their skins. Anyone who offers me Johnny Walker or forgets the bitters needs to learn a few things. Yes, I'm a snob. In my book, the drink is a careful combination of three ingredients with options for three others. Mixed in the glass and stirred by the drinker, not shaken and poured.

3 parts good bourbon (Maker's Mark is the standard but I prefer Booker's)
1 part sweet vermouth
3 dashes Angostura bitters - really the only brand I prefer

Can be served straight up or on the rocks over chipped ice, finished by a splash of cherry juice and topped with 1-2 maraschino cherries on stems. I prefer ice, juice, and fruit. The cherry juice balances the bitters. The bitters in turn bring out the flavor of the bourbon - if they are missing it tastes flat. The best ones are served in a good sized rocks glass - never in a martini glass, double shot tumbler, or any other shape. I know that a lot of bartending guides will list a martini glass for manhattans, but personally this shape is awkward to hold and drink from, hard to properly swirl a non-shaken drink, and obviously doesn't hold ice. It also looks a little frou-frou for what I consider a relatively masculine cocktail.

Like a good reuben sandwich is my gauge for a lunch spot, the Manhattan is my test for a decent bar and/or tender. I get a great satisfaction and comfort when traveling for work when I check in the to the hotel room, head down to the lounge, and watch the bartender's reaction and questions when I order my drink. I sit at the bar by myself and enjoy that cocktail while watching others come and go, or maybe a light chat with someone. Relax, enjoy the smooth sweet taste. Clink the ice cubes as the glass gets emptier, finish the last swallow with a bit of cherry and twirl the stem while the final taste fades.

I should mention that thre are variations, and to each their own. I had an awesome version at the Biltmore Millennium in Los Angeles where the bartender has been serving up his own twist with a caranelized orange slice and some Grand Marnier mixed in - for decades.
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Age : 59
Location : Pittsburgh
Registration date : 2010-06-11

Made in Manhattan? Empty
PostSubject: Re: Made in Manhattan?   Made in Manhattan? EmptySun May 27, 2012 3:38 pm

The Manhattan is a fine thing, and my preferred cocktail as well, excepting the dog days of summer when I switch to Gin (Tanqueray) and Tonics.

But you are particularly right in emphasizing that the cocktail be stirred and not shaken: I have almost physically restrained a bartender on occasion when he put the ingredients in a shaker rather than the glass; the charm of the drink comes from the different ingredients combining incompletely. A homogeneous shaken Manhattan has the charm of cranberry juice.

A rye or Canadian Manhattan is a nice alternative to Bourbon once in a while; a Rob Roy -- where Scotch replaces the Bourbon -- is a waste of good whisky. If I'm matching tobacco to a drink -- in other words, I'm in one of the last bastions of civilization and i can smoke contentedly -- I like a VaPer these days or a good cigar.

Last edited by Tim_Haggerty on Mon May 28, 2012 11:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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Location : Greater Boston
Registration date : 2012-01-07

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PostSubject: Re: Made in Manhattan?   Made in Manhattan? EmptyMon May 28, 2012 7:22 am

A nice manhattan is a fine drink. Though my default mixed drink of choice is the whiskey sour.

As to stirring vs shaking the key is to remember the rule of thumb "if it is 'clear' then stir, otherwise shake". This is of a course just a general guide but a good one to keep in mind. This is why Bond always had to specify "shaken and not stirred" because his cocktail is composed of clear ingredients. A not clear ingredient is specified as juice, milk and eggs. Hence my whiskey sour is shaken, but a manhattan is stirred.

As the OP said, you can very quickly get the measure of a bar tender by how they combine the ingredients. If you did not see the preparation of the drink, let us say you ordered a manhattan, and it is brought to you with a foamy surface and/or is cloudy then the bartender shook the drink. Which as has been established is incorrect.
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