April 13, 2009

The Muppets took tonight's drink...

That's right, tonight we look at that classic, the Manhattan. There are approximately 438 variants on this puppy, most with increasingly unlikely names (the Honolulu? the Brown University? Whaa?!) but we're dealing with my favorite variant on it, the Perfect Manhattan. Couldn't be simpler. Well I guess technically it could, but as far as a 5 ingredient drink goes, this one's dead simple.

Perfect Manhattan
2 oz rye whiskey (if you can't find a straight rye, you can always go for a blend that's got a lot of rye in it: Canadian Club's probably your best bet, and it's usually not priced too high, either)
1/2 oz Italian (sweet and/or red) vermouth
1/2 oz French (dry and/or white) vermouth
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters

Stir it all briskly with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish, if you must, with a twist, or, only if absolutely unavoidable, with a cherry.

I prefer the Perfect Manhattan to the classic (which uses twice the Italian vermouth and none of the French) because otherwise it tends a little too much towards the sweet for my liking. In fact, I used to make it with only the French vermouth, and preferred that even to this, but that's not a Manhattan at all...in fact, I'm not entirely sure what that is. It's almost a Brooklyn, but it lacks the maraschino liqueur and Amer Picon. I suppose we could call it a "Five Points"... I also use two kinds of bitters just because I'm indecisive; the old Waldorf-Astoria in NYC (it stood where the Empire State Building is now) used orange bitters, Angostura bitters are traditional, and I like both kinds. So there.

Anyway this drink pits the smokiness of the bitters against the sweetness of the vermouth and the spiciness of the rye. It's a venerable drink, going all the way back to 1874 or so, but while it's drifted in and out of favor (it was rather too flavorful for the Men in the Grey Flannel Suits, who eschewed it for the comforting blandness of the vodka martini) it's lately been creeping back in to the limelight. It's still not a huge mover, but it's good to see it getting the attention it deserves after all these years.


  1. This is a drink I can get behind. Although I've never had one made with actual rye--I might have to pick some up. I just got some beautiful glasses from my grandmother's estate that are a great size for Manhattans.

  2. There were no Muppet pictures in this post, dammit!

  3. It was a bad bad joke..."The Muppets Take Manhattan." And the title of the post was "The Muppets took..."

    Never mind.