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Thread: The Manhattan

  1. #141
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    Re: The Manhattan

    That sounds really good, so does the Wondrich one, though. The higher ratio of vermouth in his version will suit the drink on some occasions, but your addition of orange bitters is an inspired touch and one I use a lot. (If no orange bitters is available use regular bitters and add a dash of Grand Marnier or Triple Sec - the orange therein combines with the regular bitters to form something very like orange bitters).

    Gary

  2. #142
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    Re: The Manhattan

    I have found that adding vodka to mixed straight whiskeys really picks them up and allows too the vermouth to come through without adding too much.

    Say, 70% mixed straights (mix younger and older whiskeys), 30% vodka, and then about 25% of the total in vermouth, with some bitters.

    Somehow, the neutral spirit brings flavors that may be discordant into a better relation. 30% is about the highest I'd use and really, water would do as well, one is just maintaining proof (more or less) by using an alcoholised diluent.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 05-21-2007 at 22:41.

  3. #143
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    Re: The Manhattan

    Quote Originally Posted by sysrick View Post
    David Wondrich has a brief article about the Manhattan in Esquire with the following recipe:


    http://www.esquire.com/features/food.../Manhattan0507


    The Manhattan (Properly)

    Stir for 15 seconds with lots of ice:
    2 ounces 100-proof rye or bourbon (We like Wild Turkey.)
    1 ounce red vermouth
    2 dashes Angostura bitters
    This is just about exactly the first Manhattan recipe that I made, following Gary and Mardee Regan's suggestion in their big bourbon book of about ten years or so ago. I think that a 2:1 ratio works perfectly with a 100 or so proof bourbon or rye. I find that if I specify this at a restaurant rather than just ordering a Manhattan, I usually do pretty well, especially if I specify WT 101, which is pretty universally available.

    As I posted earlier, in this thread, I think, the best Manhattan recipe I've come up with is 1:1:1 WT 101 bourbon: WT rye: good sweet vermouth (NOT Gallo), plus a couple-three dashes of bitters.

    I'm jiggy with Angostura. Orange bitters (Regan's) leave me unmoved. (And I made my own years ago from the Regans' recipe.) But a dash or three of Grand Marnier adds to the complexity nicely.

    This evening's heat led to our first gin & tonic, but a Manhattan sounds great!

    Cheers.

    Jeff
    "One never knows, do one?" Fats Waller, American Musician, 1904-1943

  4. #144
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    Re: The Manhattan

    I've been drinking Manhattans more often recently and contrary to what the pros say, I like them shaken, not stirred. Mostly it's because I like to use the shaker. While I love them made with bourbon (VOB BIB and OGD BIB are two favorites) and rye (Rittenhouse BIB), they are surprisingly good with humble old Seagram's Seven which, as you might imagine, tends to highlight the vermouth a little more.

    I'm about a 3:1 guy, 2 or 3 dashes of bitters, maybe more, and when I have them a maraschino cherry with just a little of the juice. Being the urban swinger that I am, I always have a martini/manhattan glass chilling in the freezer. (Actually, I suppose if I really was an urban swinger, I'd always have two.)

  5. #145
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    Re: The Manhattan

    I make mine about the same way (same proportions, sometimes a little more vermouth goes in). I find a Manhattan is a funny thing, it can be made quite tolerably but if you add a little more bitters, or a little more vermouth, or a little more whiskey, it becomes perfect.

    I've been trying to duplicate the balance and depth in a Manhattan served at Bourbons Bistro in Louisville that was made with the Woodford Reserve bottled for the house (apparently from a single barrel, therefore probably all-pot still).

    I have come very close. I use though blends of bourbon and straight rye as my base (almost always now). You need that anyway to approximate the complexity of an all- pot still bourbon - unless you happen to have some!

    I have an idea now that the Manhattan may be of Italian-American origin in New York City.

    In the recent "American Food Writing", an anthology of writings on food edited by Molly O'Neill, published by The Library of America, there is an article about a successful Italian restaurant in New York in the early 20th century. The era covered starts before World War I and it appears the restaurnt began before 1900.

    The writer was the long-lived Maria Sermolino (1895-1991). The piece is from her 1950's book of reminiscences, "Papa's Table d'Hote", and recalls with fine detail and charm the kind of cooking offered in an Italian restaurant around 1900.

    The author writes (and the food sounds absolutely luscious) that the bar was a great profit center: "The bar was the gold mine. A forty-gallon barrel of good bar whisky from Park & Tilford cost about 50 dollars, and, at 15 cents for a three ounce drink [ahem], straight, returned about $250. Mixed with Italian vermouth, imported by the barrel, it made a superb Manhattan cocktail, which, including the maraschino cherry cost about three cents a drink (more or less, depending on how much melted ice was included), and sold for 15 cents, or two for a quarter".

    Now I was thinking, of course a primo Italian restaurant in New York circa-1900 would carry vermouth because the (originally at any rate) ethnic clientele would demand it. So popular was it evidently, it was brought in by the barrel, this wasn't a drink people occasionally ordered from a dusty bottle.

    Vermouth is an old-established Italian fortified wine, it wasn't Anglo-Saxon then.

    Maybe the idea formed in the Manhattan Italian restaurants and bars to mix blended whisky with vermouth. Why? Well, the habit may just have formed. Maybe in parts of Italy they had mixed vermouth with brandy - I should check this. But note that the author was careful to say the vermouth was mixed with Park & Tilford - a blended whiskey.

    Surely a good restaurant or bar would have also sold more expensive straight bourbons or ryes, but I suspect they weren't mixed (then) with vermouth. Old bourbon and rye (some of it) practically tastes herbal and winy - like vermouth, kind of, you didn't need to add the wine to it.

    But people might have added vermouth to blended whiskey to approximate a better whiskey: a good blended whisky still goes great with vermouth (as Chuck noted). We should remember too that a lot of straight whiskey then was taken with sugar and sometimes herbs: Jack Daniel (the original distiller) used sugar and tansy herb, for example. People may have been looking for ways to make blend whiskey taste like that: well, vermouth has sugar in it (red vermouth does), and it has herbs...

    This suggested specific rationale for the cocktail, for its origin, seems unexceptional. But what I am focusing on is the vermouth: who had it? The Italian restaurants evidently.

    I know Jerry Thomas' second edition of his famed cocktails manual has a recipe for the Manhattan (I think this was in the 1870's), but again where would vermouth have been available in New York between the time of his first edition, which does not contain a recipe for the Manhattan, and the second edition? I would think Italian bars and retaurants existed in NYC by the 1860's.

    True, the Manhattan always had rye whiskey associations, but they may have started with blends in which the straight element was rye whisky. But again, who would have had the vermouth, and in the quantity for such a thing to take off? Not surely (originally) Irish-American bars (then very popular in Manhattan - hey they still are). And why would a private club keep supplies of vermouth at the bar in the later 1800's? I am referring to the theory that the drink was invented at the Manhattan Club in New York which doesn't mean it may not have been popularised there - after being invented downtown in Little Italy.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 09-09-2007 at 02:56.

  6. #146
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    Re: The Manhattan

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman View Post
    Maybe the idea formed in the Manhattan Italian restaurants and bars to mix blended whisky with vermouth. Why? Well, the habit may just have formed. Maybe in parts of Italy they had mixed vermouth with brandy - I should check this.
    One other data point regarding brandy with vermouth - if you order a Manhattan in Wisconsin, it will likely be made with brandy unless you specify otherwise. However, in Wisconsin brandy is used in a variety of other cocktails as well (like Old Fashioneds).
    Oh no! You have walked into the slavering fangs of a lurking grue!

  7. #147
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    Re: The Manhattan

    Well, brandy would go well in it: there is already some brandy in vermouth I believe (or a spirit of some kind derived from grapes).

    By the way it is true Jerry Thomas's recipe in his first edition, for the Martinez (ancestor to the Martini although this is controversial), calls for sweet vermouth - and Jerry Thomas was from San Francisco.

    But, and I think it is a big but, San Francisco had an Italian population very early on, also Croatian and other populations not far from the Italian regions. I wonder if these groups did not inspire the Martinez, essentially.

    Who else would have imported vermouth by the barrel, I wonder? True, wines from Latin Europe were popular even in Colonial times such as Madeira, Malaga, Port, Sherry: but not vermouth as far as I know, I think we first hear of it after the immigrations started from Southern Europe.

    Gary

 

 

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