The Manhattan hardly needs an introduction. It's not just a classic, it's practically an institution and represents the harmony that can result when certain things are mixed that just seem to be made for one another. Like many classics there are various ratios out there for the Manhattan and preferences abound when it comes to the particular vermouth, whiskey or bitters. If the vermouth is fresh and the whiskey decent, however, the drink is going to be fine.
There's already plenty written about the Manhattan (its stature is well deserved), its history (Churchill's mom had nothing to do with it), its connection to the Martini (Martinez will put you in the middle) and how it should be made (stir and don't forget the bitters).
Sean and I try to put stuff here that seems interesting and strikes our fancy for whatever reason. Could be a fascination with ice, fernet, punch...whatever. The Manhattan though, I feel like I sometimes take this drink for granted. And while it is one of the simplest drinks on the planet to make, there's a reason its popularity has endured...it's delicious, and when it hits the mark just right it's tough to think of something better.
This recipe is from the Employees Only cocktail book Speakeasy. It's their version of the classic and veers away from the standard 2:1 ratio to something closer to equal parts with a slight edge given to the vermouth. While not what you're likely to get in a bar when ordering a Manhattan these days this version has solid historical footing as does its inclusion of Grand Marnier.
Orange and lemon on the nose from the Grand Marnier and lemon twist. The sip finds rye's spice and subtle notes of caramel getting along fine with the light but herbal and slightly bitter vermouth. I don't always turn to Dolin Rouge for sweet vermouth. I like it, I just tend to favor more intensely flavored vermouths like Cocchi, Carpano Antica and Punt e Mes. Dolin is elegant though and its nuances more subtle. It works perfectly in a drink like this where its higher profile allows it to shine even as it accommodates a warm and somewhat unruly spirit. Here it strolls with grace alongside the whiskey, rich oranges and brandy in tow, promising a return to calmness...or at least a pause in the untiring day.
Manhattan - from Speakeasy, Jason Kosmas, Dushan Zaric, 2010
1 3/4 oz Dolin Rouge
1 1/2 oz Rittenhouse Rye
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
3 dashes Angostura
Garnish - Lemon Twist
Stir, Strain, Up