The Manhattan is probably my favorite cocktail. Much like the Mint Julep, it’s a very simple, very elegant drink (also very strong). And like the Mint Julep, you’re only dealing with a few ingredients, as follows:
- 2 oz bourbon (you can also use rye whiskey)
1 oz sweet vermouth
1-2 dashes bitters
Twist of lemon or a cherry
Stir the bourbon, vermouth, and bitters with ice. Strain into a glass. Add the garnish. Enjoy!
So if this is all there is to it, why are so many Manhattans lousy? They are often watery or have a weird film on top. Here’s some things people do to keep a Manhattan from being tasty:
1. They use cheap bourbon–As with the Mint Julep, the quality of the bourbon is important. The better the bourbon, the better the Manhattan. (You can also use rye. In fact, some cocktail snobs think Manhattans should only be made with rye. Either way, the same rule applies.)
2. They ignore the vermouth–It’s puzzling that people will use a $50 bourbon in a Manhattan and forget to use a quality vermouth. Vermouth makes or breaks a Manhattan. I am partial to Vya Sweet Vermouth myself.
3. They use dry vermouth instead of sweet vermouth–Manhattans need some sweetness in them. Dry vermouth just tastes wrong.
4. They shake instead of stir–This is the most common mistake of making a Manhattan. NEVER shake it. Shaking a Manhattan makes a film on top of the drink that looks and tastes bad. Instead, gently stir the drink in the ice and then strain into a glass.
Follow these steps, I guarantee you will make a Manhattan better than one you can get in most bars.