After years of avoiding whiskey cocktails like the plague thanks to some megaton-level hangovers, I’ve developed a taste for the Manhattan Cocktail. I have other, mixed associations with this classic cocktail, but to celebrate our arrival at Marquette, MI, I exorcised old ghosts and shook up some Perfect Manhattans for the intrepid crew of Gaviidae.
The word whiskey, which evolved from the Gaelic “uisge beathe,” meaning “water of life”. The classic Manhattan, traditionally traced back to the Manhattan Club in the 1870s calls for rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters–the herbal concoction that started out as a health tonic, and is the secret ingredient that elevates many good cocktails to great cocktails.
I like the classic Manhattan, but sometimes find it too sweet. My preferred version is the Perfect Manhattan, which calls for 2 parts good bourbon, one part each sweet and dry vermouth and my beloved Angostura bitters. I like it up or on the rocks and frequently dress it up with lemon peel and a Maraschino cherry.
By the way, it pays to be choosy about the vermouth, which is a brandy-fortified wine originally flavored with wormwood (wermut in German) in Italy. Generally, French vermouth is drier and, I think, more elegant than Italian dry vermouth. I’m not as picky about sweet or red vermouth, but find the Italian a little sweeter and more unctuous.
July 3, 2015 Marquette, MI