• MxMo XCVII Cocktail: The Perfectly Perfect Manhattan

    perfect4Time again for Mixology Monday! Let’s get right to the booze. This month’s theme is from our fearless leader, Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut is “I’ll Take Manhattan”. Thanks again to Fred for hosting…here is the breakdown:

    mxmologoTurning to David Wondrich’s Imbibe! for some historical reference, he bandied back and forth about possible creators and locales for this classic’s creation. Perhaps it was created many places and many times, for sweet vermouth was the new hot ingredient of the 1870s and 1880s as St. Germain was in 2007 and 2008 (and arguably even to today). Wondrich quoted from the anonymously penned 1898 Cocktails: How To Make Them, “The addition of Vermouth was the first move toward the blending of cocktails.” In my mind, the Manhattan takes the Old Fashioned one step further. Not only does it replace the sugar with sweet vermouth, but this sweetener ties its herbal notes to those of the bitters and its spice notes to the barrel-aged whiskey (especially rye whiskey) as well as the bitters again. Furthermore, the addition of a hint of fruit and caramel flavoring is a welcome addition to the mix (I will not directly draw any link to the vermouth’s fruit and the cherry garnish though). While there have been a variety of Manhattan variations through the years such as the Preakness and the Brooklyn, most of the twentieth century saw this drink unchanged, in theory that is… However, the last decade or so has seen a renewal in the drink begin made correctly. Moreover, I would point to New York City cerca 2005 as the re-birth of the Manhattan variation with drinks like the Red Hook being born. For this theme, actuate it any way you’d like as long as the drink resembles a Manhattan. Want to take 19th century Manhattan recipes or variations to the test? …Or perhaps subbing out the whiskey or vermouth for another ingredient or adding in a liqueur or other modifier or so to the mix? Awesome, you’re right on track! There are plenty of Manhattan and Manhattan variations out there in the literature, and theres plenty of room to explore and tinker if that’s your thing, too.

    Great theme. The only bummer for us is that we would easily choose the Brooklyn, one of our favorite cocktails, but also one we have blogged about (one of our most popular posts, in fact) and is already in the announcement post. Happily, the Brooklyn itself is a riff on another classic Manhattan variant, the “Perfect Manhattan”.

    perfectperfect1perfect2So what makes it “perfect”? Basically, the Perfect Manhattan adds dry vermouth along with sweet vermouth of the classic Manhattan. And when you use rye whiskey for your Manhattans (and we do prefer rye), the herbal flavors of the dry vermouth lighten the overall taste of the cocktail and compliment the rye’s “spicy” notes. Adding both a dash of Angostura and Orange bitters gives you citrus notes and a dry edge to the finish. Overall, the Perfect Manhattan is the “right” Manhattan to try if you find the classic version a bit heavy and sweet. (It is much less of a “brown drink” as Carolyn would say.)

    The other “perfect” thing about the Perfect Manhattan is that if you like cocktails at all, the recipe uses ingredients that you should have. Rittenhouse rye, sweet and dry vermouth, Angostura bitters and orange bitters are all staples of a good home cocktail “bar”. So if you don’t have any of these ingredients, now is the time to get them!

    perfect3As for the vermouth, you can go with M&R or Dolin for sweet, but we prefer the bolder flavors of Cocchi Vermouth di Torino or Carpano Antica. As for dry vermouth, we strongly recommend Dolin and its smooth, herbal flavors.

    perfect5Finally, we suggest you garnish with good quality maraschino cherries, either homemade or Luxardo will do nicely. Nothing makes a Perfect Manhattan more perfect than a few cherries…

    The Perfectly Perfect Manhattan:


    • 2 oz. rye whiskey (Rittenhouse)
    • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi)
    • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin)
    • Angostura bitters
    • Regan’s Orange Bitters
    • Maraschino cherries, for garnish (Luxardo)


    1. Place all the liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until well-chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé. Garnish with 1 or 2 cherries. Serve.

  • Weekly Cocktail #62: The Kentucky Monk (And The Kentucky Buck)

    monkHmm…I guess we should start calling these “monthly” cocktails.

    Anyway, things keep moving here at the farm. And times are good. A California horse won the Kentucky Derby, all while we were sipping one of our Mint Juleps. Very Nice. And we have strawberries in the garden (blueberries, too). So while the connection may be tenuous, we started looking for bourbon-based cocktails that use strawberries….as we have said before, it doesn’t take much inspiration to get us mixing drinks.

    monk10monk8And as luck would have it, our latest version of Imbibe magazine just arrived (you do subscribe, don’t you?) and had an article on “new classic” cocktails. The article included some of our favorites like the Bramble and the Jasmine, but it also included a drink we had not tried, the Kentucky Buck. The Kentucky Buck, a creation of Erick Castro, combines bourbon, muddled strawberry, lemon juice, simple syrup, bitters and ginger beer. Basically this is a bourbon buck with more going on. And like most “bucks” (spirits, ginger beer / ale, citrus), is a very tasty drink for summer.

    monk9monk6But since we have a bunch of strawberries (we are a farm / garden, after all), we decided to riff on the Kentucky Buck and bring out more of the strawberries. And the next steps were easy, we doubled the strawberries and then subbed Yellow Chartreuse for the simple syrup. And this is the key, the Yellow Chartreuse works with lemon and bourbon, but also adds sweet herbal notes that compliment the strawberries. What you get is all the sweet / sour flavor of the lemon, strawberries and ginger beer, but also complex herbal flavors all through the sip. Yum. And since Chartreuse is a big player here, we changed the name to the Kentucky Monk. Regardless, we suggest you try either version.

    monk7monk4One last note. We often buck (get it?) the trend and suggest using ginger ale rather than ginger beer in our bucks. While ginger beer can be better at times, we find the quality can be inconsistent and the musky flavors mask lighter spirits like gin (or vodka). But when working with bourbon or darker rums, we do suggest using a good ginger beer, as these spirits hold up to the bigger flavors. Either way, with summer coming, keep bucks in mind when planning your next party…. Continue reading