Those of you who have been around since the inception of brothmonger will remember that I used to take a very hard stance against cold soups. For the first few years of my soup endeavors I never made a single cold soup, and I intended to keep it that way forever. Ultimately, when I linked up with Mayfly I had to be accommodating. Through my compromise I learned that cold soup is not the worst. Cold soup can actually be quite incredible. This issue is going to be dedicated to my favorite cold soup, one you can find me partaking in multiple times a week—the Manhattan.
I have been an enthusiastic imbiber since I was old enough to imbibe. I fell in love with whiskey one winter in my early twenties while I was too sick to enjoy cold beverages but also too stubborn to allow my body to heal. I was also too afraid to face the FOMO. I went to the bar nearly every night (pre-pandemic was wild!) with tea bags in my purse and ordered whisky with hot water. Most of the bars that I was going to at the time were too divey to make me an actual hot toddy. It was either that or the bartenders were too old and mean to make me a drink requiring more than 3 ingredients. Eventually, I buried my virus in enough alcohol and cigarettes to show who was boss and I emerged with a new-found love for brown liquor and all the possibilities that go along with it. Then, I discovered the Manhattan.
I’ll never remember my first Manhattan, but I would like to formally thank whoever told me to order it. It was most likely my friend Derek. This cocktail is absolutely flawless. It’s simple: three ingredients. It has a perfect 2:1:2 ratio that is easy to remember given the mnemonic device it was born to have—the area code for the island of Manhattan is famously 212. I won’t forget that.
This gazpacho recipe is sweet and savory. It’s universal. It’s adaptable. It’s delicious. It’s highly drinkable and it does the job well. My order is a rye Manhattan on the rocks unless the rocks are crushed ice, then it’s up. My favorite and most frequent places to drink these and anything right now are: (1) Home; (2) Siempre Algo; and (3) Monterey Pub.
2 oz. Wild Turkey 101 Kentucky Straight Bourbon
1 oz. Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 preserved cherry with stem or pick (not both)
Pour the liquid ingredients over large ice cube(s), garnish with the cherry, and enjoy. Or pour the liquid ingredients over large ice cubes and stir until well-chilled (home bartenders tend to underestimate the importance of dilution). Then strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with the cherry, and enjoy.
I have chosen Wild Turkey 101 because it is my favorite. I like my whiskey like I like my women—stronger than me. Carpano Antica is the gold standard when it comes to sweet vermouths. Either of these can be substituted for other high-quality products, but Angostura Bitters cannot. I am not too picky about the cherry, but there is something irresistible about the texture of Luxardo maraschino cherries. Some enjoy a lemon twist in lieu of a cherry garnish, but I ask, “Why do that to yourself?” Finally, I prefer my Manhattan on the rocks because as the ice melts, the drink dilutes, and the flavor evolves. However, make haste! Harry Craddock, author of The Savoy Cocktail once said that the best way to enjoy a cocktail is “quickly—while it’s laughing at you!”
Siempre Algo is right around the corner from my house and over the pandemic it became my Friday night living room. When you have a bartender who is as knowledgeable and personable as Kimber, it’s easy to become a fast regular. Here is her favorite Manhattan.
2 oz. Rye (I typically use Knob Creek Rye or Rittenhouse Rye)
½ oz. sweet vermouth
½ oz. dry vermouth
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 lemon twist
Add all the ingredient to a mixing glass. Stir. Strain into a glass (I prefer it up in a coupe). Express lemon peel over the drink, and garnish.
If I am feeling lazy when I’m home by myself I will pour all the ingredients into a rocks glass over a big rock and stir it with whatever is close, garnish, and drink.
Monterey Pub is freshly reopened with an incredible new staff and cocktail program. They have essentially taken all my favorite bartenders in the city and put them in one place, which is a dream come true. Among this all-star squad is Francesca Montenegro whom I have known for years. To know her is to love her. She’s a wonderful lady, an incredible bartender, and she’s climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. And the thing I like most about her is that she’s a Northsider. Here is her favorite Manhattan.
The Monte Bouquet
2 oz. Four Roses Bourbon
1 oz. Amaro Montenegro
1 dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters
1 dash Angostura Orange Bitters
1 Luxardo maraschino cherry
Fill a martini glass with ice and water to chill the glass while preparing the cocktail. Add the ingredients to a mixing glass Add ice to fill the glass 2/3 of the way, stir for 25 seconds, and strain into the chilled martini glass. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry on a skewer.
Whether you’re imbibing at home or at a bar, the Manhattan is a perfect first choice and a perfect last resort. I use it for both applications interchangeably. I like to keep my home bar stocked with Four Roses or Makers Mark and Old Grand-Dad. For vermouth at home, it’s always Carpano Antica. Go out into the world and drink Manhattans. You’ll feel great, you’ll have fun, you’ll impress your friends and bartenders. Then get an Uber home, take 1200 milligrams of ibuprofen, and get some sleep. When you wake up, eat a spaghetti sandwich for breakfast and take on the world. You’re a king. You’re a queen. You’re my favorite person and I love you. Now that you know my favorite gazpacho recipes, send one over next time you see me out, why doncha!
Love this post! The Manhattan has long been my favorite cocktail, and sometimes in the mood for regular, sometimes Perfect. Finding a bartender who can make a great one is like discovering gold, so thank you for your recommendations!