09 August 2007

We'll take Manhattan...

  • 2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash of Angostura bitters
  • 1 Maraschino Cherry
The Manhattan is a very old cocktail, most likely having been invented in the 1870's at New Yorks Manhattan Club from which it gets its name. It has the same sort of simplicity as a Martini, but with much more flavour. And fortunately, unlike the Martini, it is still proper to be made with both vermouth and bitters.

Originally, like most American Whiskey drinks prior to prohibition, this cocktail was made with Rye. Today, it is more commonly made with Bourbon, but only because there are a lot more Bourbon's on the market then there are Rye's. If you can find a good Rye, like Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye, then by all means try it, but a Bourbon like Makers Mark is excellent as well and perhaps more common.

To make a Manhattan properly, it is very important to create a good balance of all the flavours that go into it. Some bartenders will tend to treat a Manhattan the same way they do a Martini, and use far too little sweet vermouth in it, and often leave the bitters out entirely. But properly done, this cocktail should present a balanced showcase of all the ingredients it contains. I always use a healthy dose of vermouth, and never leave out the bitters. If you can find them, Abbott's bitters are the bitters of choice for a Manhattan, but since they haven't been made for almost 60 years, you might have some trouble getting ahold of this. In which case Angostura bitters works fine, or you could try Fee's Aromatic Bitters.

While the Maraschino Cherry is the common garnish for a Manhattan, it was not the original garnish. The Maraschino Cherry appears to have made its debut in the early 1900's some time, but a cherry was listed as a garnish for the Manhattan long before that. In those days they would often garnish their cocktails with cherries that had been soaking in spirits of some sort. Either Brandy, Whiskey, or some other form of Eau de Vie.

Summer journeys to Niag'ra
And to other places aggra-
vate all our cares.
We'll save our fares;
I've a cozy little flat in
What is known as old Manhattan,
We'll settle down
Right here in town.

We'll have Manhattan,
The Bronx and Staten
Island too.
It's lovely going through the Zoo.
It's very fancy
On old Delancey
Street you know.
The subway charms us so,
When balmy breezes blow
To and fro.

And tell me what street
Compares with Mott Street
In July?
Sweet pushcarts gently gliding by.

The great big city's a wondrous toy
Just made for a girl and boy --
We'll turn Manhattan
Into an isle of joy.

We'll go to Greenwich,
Where modern men itch
To be free,
And Bowling Green you'll see with me.

We'll bathe at Brighton,
The fish you'll frighten
When you're in,
Your bathing suit so thin
Will make the shellfish grin,
Fin to fin.

I'd like to take a
Sail on Jamaica
Bay with you,
And fair Canarsie's Lakes we'll view.

The city's bustle cannot destroy
The dreams of a girl and boy --
We'll turn Manhattan
Into an isle of joy.

We'll go to Yonkers,
Where true love conquers
In the wilds
And starve together, dear, in Childs'.
We'll go to Coney
And eat bologna
On a roll,

In Central Park we'll stroll
Where our first kiss we stole,
Soul to soul.

We'll have Manhattan,
The Bronx and Staten
Island too,
We'll try to cross Fifth Avenue.
As black as onyx
We'll find the Bronix Park Express,
Our Flatbush flat, I guess,
Will be a great success,
More or less.

A short vacation
On Inspiration
Point we'll spend,
And in the station house we'll end.
But Civic Virtue cannot destroy
The dreams of a girl and boy --

We'll turn Manhattan into an isle of joy!


Anonymous said...

I remember having to sing that awful song in Ms. Goldenberg's (emphasis on MIZZZZZ) 4th grade class and for some reason it always pops into my head. I have yet to turn it into an isle of joy, but now I have the formula, so it's a possibility.

Gotham City Insider said...

Yeah, the "isle of joy" is all in the Maraschino. That might be where you're messing up.

Anonymous said...

you're suddenly into manhattans because you read that THEY drank them (before the suicides). MEANWHILE, while you were still looking for your signature drink, I ordered you one and you wanted nothing to do with it.

Gotham City Insider said...

Nice detective work! But I'm Jack and Ginger all the way. U know that :)