Booze Review

Booze Review – The Manhattan Club’s Manhattan

Ever since we launched “It’s just the booze dancing…” last April, I’ve spent a good bit of my spare time reading about the stuff we write about, i.e. craft beer, whisk(e)y, and cocktails. If you’re going to put yourself out there as some some sort of booze expert, then you better know what you’re talking about!

While I’ve spent a good bit of time reading about cocktails, I have spent very little time actually making them. The April 2011 issue of Esquire includes a David Wondrich article titledThe Imposters“, which focuses on three classic cocktails that have been bastardized over the past 100+ years: The Gin Cocktail, The Original Singapore Sling, and The Manhattan Club’s Manhattan.

Much like the Martini, the Manhattan has deviated greatly from it’s original recipe. What everyone thinks is a Martini has gone from a drink that contains equal parts Old Tom Gin and White Vermouth, to something that is mostly London Dry Gin and just a whisper of White Vermouth (the garnish varies from pickled onions to a twist of lemon zest and everything in between). The Martini trend has been to go stronger and drier over the years.

The same has happened to the Manhattan. Per the Wondrich article, the original recipe consisted of equal parts Straight Rye Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, and a dash or two of bitters, while the Manhattan that I’m used to consists of about three parts Bourbon, one part Red Vermouth, a dash or two of Angostura bitters, and a maraschino cherry. I have never been a fan of the Martini (or at least what I’ve always thought of as a Martini), but I am a huge fan of the Manhattan. It’s a big, powerful drink that can do quite a bit of damage if you’re not careful! Since I happen to have a bottle of Sazerac Rye, I thought I would try to recreate what Mr. Wondrich claims to be the original Manhattan recipe…

While equal parts Straight Rye Whiskey and Red Vermouth results in a much tamer drink (30% ABV for the original Manhattan vs. 37.5% ABV for the version that I’m used to), I would never call the original Manhattan recipe weak or watered down. Mr. Wondrich is right on the money when he says that this recipe results in a “smooth, rich, and elegant” cocktail. Equalizing the Whiskey/Vermouth proportions helps to tame the spicy edge that usually characterizes Straight Rye Whiskey, but doesn’t make it disappear completely. The end result is a well balanced and flavorful cocktail that I look forward to enjoying again and again.

If you too are a fan of the Manhattan cocktail, give this fine adult beverage a try, and please report back to tell us what you think.

Here’s the recipe…

The Manhattan Club’s Manhattan

Stir well with cracked ice:

  • 1.5 ounces Straight Rye Whiskey
  • 1.5 ounces Martini & Rossi Red Vermouth
  • 2 dashes of orange bitters

Strain into chilled cocktail coupe and twist a swatch of thin-cut lemon peel over the top.

14 replies »

  1. Before I get to my comments regarding the Manhattan (or other cocktails named for major metropolli such as, The Chicago, The New Orleans or The Fon Du Lac), I’ll confirm that, regardless of G-LO’s impressive library of adult beverage-centric titles, he knows his way around a bar. Not too many around these days that can identify Averna, Root and St. Germaine bottles through a window of one bar while seated at another across the street. Yes, he knows his stuff – thankfully.

    As for the Manhattan (classic recipe or modern iteration). I’ll await his offer to stir one up for me. My most recent encounter with a Manhattan in a now defunct bar off Headhouse Square in Philly was memorable only because it was one of the most offensive cocktails I’d ever tasted. Aside from that I liked it.

    There is one thing though that I don’t understand. Why not pour it into a pilsner glass?


    • There’s a compliment in there somewhere. I’ll let you know when I find it.

      As you are well aware, you are always welcome to join us at the “It’s just the booze dancing…” Institute for Alcoholic Consumption. You have been invited on numerous occasions, and yet you shun our hospitality. Thankfully, we are usually too inebriated to be offended. That being said, your open invitation still stands.

      As for the Manhattan in a Pilsner glass, given your high tolerance, we’ll serve it any sized/style glass you want. But first you must enter the “Booze dancing” zone.


  2. While G-lo may pour his brew into the closest glass he can reach. When it comes to spirits the glassware is always correct. Heck the man has varying levels of Malt Whisky glasses.


  3. Our man G-Lo certainly does know his way around the bottom, middle or top shelf of a bar. And, his selection of glassware notwithstanding, he knows how to pour a beer or make a cocktail. Now, if only he knew how to use a phone to alert his fellow booze dancers when it is time to do some quality research … Mix all the Manhattans you want, you will still not conjure Joan Harris!


  4. Wait…..

    Did I see someone suggest or invite limpd to dispatch a text? I’m pretty sure his cell phone is still in the basket. He’s clearly more afraid of texting than he is of the hose.


      • Not more receptive, just crazy enough to start a wild and bizarre text conversation with the “insanity” that is the Ale Monger.


        • It is neither the fear of engaging the Monger (he crazy) or the amount of booze (me likey whisky) that limits my texts. As I have told you repeatedly, my thumbs are barely opposable and as such limit my ability to respond.


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