MANHATTANS —

AS UPTOWN AS A COCKTAIL CAN BE

Manhattans are suave, aromatic and thoroughly satisfying. Unlike the Martini, which is more of an acquired taste, the Manhattan’s appeal doesn’t require a learning curve to appreciate. While a relatively straightforward concoction, there are a sufficient number of components in the drink to devise genuinely singular and innovative signature Manhattans. Learning how to tweak these various elements is at the heart of the creative process.

Part of its enduring popularity is attributed to the affinity that exists between whiskey and fortified wines—products such as vermouth, port, Sherry and Madeira. They are imbued with lush flavors and lavishly textured bodies, making them incomparable in cocktails. Mixology is replete with classic drink recipes that marry fortified wines and spirits and today’s practitioners are continuing to explore and redefine the boundaries of this magical pairing.

While it’s true that few cocktails will transcend the popularity of the Martini, it’s equally true that few cocktails will ever taste better than a well-chilled Manhattan. The choice is yours—follow the crowd, or find soul-satisfying bliss? —RP


THE MANHATTANS AT A GLANCE

• DIFFICULTY OF PREPARATION: 4.6 OUT OF 10 — The little preparation involved making a Manhattan is neither difficult nor time-consuming. They’re typically served in one of two ways. The traditional method is to stir the drink with ice and serve it straight in a chilled cocktail glass. The other approach is to serve the drink on the rocks, in which case the ingredients are stirred and strained it into iced tumbler. That’s it.

[Scale 1– 10: A drink with a value of 5.0 or lower means it’s quickly and easily prepared, while one with a value closer to 10 indicates that several days and an advanced engineering degree are required.]


• UP-SELLING POTENTIAL: 9.7 OUT OF 10 — The Manhattan is an ideal example of a cocktail with tremendous up-sell potential. First and foremost there’s the fact that the better the whiskey, the better cocktail. Secondly, boosting sales of premium brands makes good business sense. They command higher prices and yield bigger margins.

Indeed, committing premium whiskey—be it bourbon, rye, Canadian, Irish or Scotch—in a Manhattan isn’t sacrilege it's creative genius.  When setting out to devise a top-shelf version of the cocktail, choose a recipe with a minimum of ingredients that may obscure the enhanced quality of the whiskey. Also, to best accentuate the spirit, the cocktail should be served straight up rather than on the rocks.

In addition to enhancing the quality of the whiskey, you can also upgrade the quality of the modifier from pedestrian vermouth to a premium brand.

[Scale 1– 10: A drink with an up-selling potential of 5.0 or higher means it’s a financial thoroughbred, a cocktail tailor-made for top-shelf spirits. A cocktail rating below 5 signifies a drink in which the brand of spirits used are of secondary importance compared to the overall effect looking to be achieved.]


• ALCOHOL POTENCY — A Manhattan served straight up is more potent than one served on the rocks. Stirring the drink with ice adds some water into the mix, yet the resulting cocktail is still relatively potent. Similar to the Martini, the classic cocktail typically only contains ingredients with alcohol.

[As a general rule, 1 1/4-ounces of distilled spirits is equal in alcohol to 4-ounces of wine and 10-ounces of beer.]


• PORTIONING CONSIDERATIONS — Most Manhattans are prepared using three parts whiskey to one part modifier, typically vermouth. More specifically, the whiskey portions usually range from 2 to 3 ounces, while most recipes call for 1 ounce of vermouth. When setting out to devise a Manhattan masterpiece, it’s a good idea beginning with equal parts of alcohol to mix. From there making the drink stronger or more citrusy involves little more than a minor tweak to the recipe.


• SEASONAL ORIENTATION AND TRADE PERIOD — Manhattans are as promotable in May and June as they are in fall or during the holidays. As a classic cocktail, they are most often served as aperitifs before and during dinner. By the time dinner winds down, guests’ thoughts tend to gravitate to more traditional postprandial concoctions.


• GLASSWARE OPTIONS — Manhattans served straight up require a cocktail glass with a minimum of four-ounces of capacity. There are a wide variety of shapes and sizes from which to choose, so pick a style that best epitomizes the cocktail’s personality. Serving the same cocktail on the rocks requires a glass with a minimum capacity of seven-ounces. Here again, there are numerous styles of tumblers and specialty glasses designed for iced cocktails. Choose the one that best showcases your efforts.

• ALCOHOL-FREE OPTIONS: 1.0 OUT OF 10 — Try as we might, our brains couldn’t quite conceive of how to prepare an alcohol-free Manhattan.  However, that said, we still gave it a rating of 1 out of 10 because we’re still thinking.

[Scale: The rating of 1.0 out of 10 indicates that alcohol-free variation of the Manhattan still eludes us.]


CREATING MANHATTAN MAGIC

It must have been one heck of a party. As the story goes, during the presidential race of 1876, New York socialite and heiress Jenny Jerome held a campaign function for candidate Samuel Tilden at the famed Manhattan Club. Miss Jerome, soon to become Lady Randolph Churchill and mother of Winston, requested a special cocktail be created for the event.

What the staff devised consisted of rye whiskey, Angostura bitters and Italian (sweet) vermouth. Like a spark to tinder, the cocktail swept through New York society. The drink that we now know as the Manhattan literally became the toast of the town. It’s said that financial mogul J. P. Morgan drank the cocktail every day at the end of trading on Wall Street.

At Finest Call, we’ve developed mixes that make creating Manhattan magic effortless.


• FINEST CALL FRUIT PUREES — Created to deliver a concentrated blast of fresh fruit flavor, Finest Call Fruit Purees are indispensable when preparing creative Manhattan variations. Our purees are made entirely with premium varieties of fruit sourced from preeminent growing regions. Exacting specifications are maintained throughout the process to ensure uncompromised quality and that the fruit is at peak ripeness.

Our unbeatable range of premium purees includes FINEST CALL RASPBERRY PUREE, FINEST CALL STRAWBERRY PUREE, FINEST CALL BANANA PUREE, FINEST CALL MANGO PUREE, FINEST CALL PEACH PUREE and FINEST CALL PASSION FRUIT PUREE.

The following drink recipes feature a Finest Call puree.

Manhattan Peach (Finest Call Banana Puree)

Passion Manhattan (Finest Call Passion Fruit Puree)

Raspberry Manhattan (Finest Call Raspberry Puree)


• FINEST CALL TRIPLE SEC AND BLUE CURAÇAO — Triple Sec is occasionally added to specialty Manhattans for body and a touch of orange aroma and flavor. Finest Call Triple Sec accomplishes that and more. Additional benefits are it contains no alcohol and carries a small price tag.

• Finest Call Blue Curaçao tastes and smells almost identical to the Triple Sec. Both have delightful, semi-sweet orange characters. Yet the Curaçao brings something singularly compelling to the table that Triple Sec can’t muster—color.

If you’re looking for a little inspiration on how to create some Manhattan magic, consider the following recipes.

Blue Grass Manhattan (Blue Curaçao)

Silk ‘n’ Satin Manhattan (Triple Sec)


• FINEST CALL PREMIUM FLAVORED SYRUPS — Sometimes a splash or two of flavor is all that’s necessary to propel a drink into the extraordinary range. To that end, we’ve created a line of flavored syrups developed specifically for use in cocktails and drinks, such as the following:

Manhattan (Finest Call Cherry Syrup)

Candied Apple Manhattan (Finest Call Cherry Syrup)

Perfect Manhattan (Finest Call Cherry Syrup)

Pom-hattan (Finest Call Pomegranate Syrup)

Silk ‘n’ Satin Manhattan (Finest Call Cherry Syrup)

Passion Manhattan (Finest Call Huckleberry Syrup)


MANHATTANS — TIPS FOR PROS

There are three principal versions of the Manhattan. The namesake is made with Italian (sweet) vermouth, bourbon or blended whiskey and a maraschino cherry garnish. The DRY MANHATTAN is made by substituting French (dry) vermouth for sweet and is garnished with either a lemon twist, or pimento-stuffed green olives. The PERFECT MANHATTAN—or MEDIUM MANHATTAN—is prepared using about a quarter of an ounce of each type of vermouth and garnished with a lemon twist. Should a guest request their Manhattan “sweet,” add a splash of maraschino cherry juice.

These days it is all too common for a Manhattan to be made without bitters, which is a pity because it’s a highly recommended ingredient. Bitters add a marvelous aroma and flavor to the cocktail, such that without it the drink seems a bit lost. Before proceeding in earnest making your own bitters, consider working first with one or more of the four franchise players in the bitters world, namely Angostura, Regans’ Orange Bitters #6, Peychaud’s and Fee Brothers Peach or Mint Bitters.

Two other popular variations on the theme are the BRANDY MANHATTAN and the SOUTHERN COMFORT MANHATTAN. The Brandy Manhattan is concocted using sweet vermouth, the Dry Brandy Manhattan with dry vermouth and the Perfect Brandy Manhattan is made with both types of vermouth. The Southern Comfort Manhattan is prepared using dry vermouth instead of the sweet, this to create a more balanced cocktail.

The classic ROB ROY is the name given to a Manhattan made with Scotch whisky. The DRY ROB ROY is made by substituting dry vermouth for sweet. The PERFECT ROB ROY—or AFFINITY COCKTAIL—is prepared with about a 1/4 oz. of each type of vermouth and garnished with a lemon twist.


• STIRRED OR SHAKEN? — The decision whether to stir or shake a Manhattan is not as clear-cut as is with the Martini. Traditionally a cocktail constructed only of an aperitif or fortified wine and a distilled spirit would be stirred gently in the mixing glass until the ingredients have reached serving temperature. As is the case of the Martini, the proper serving temperature for a Manhattan is around 37-38˚F. The basic ingredients are sufficiently close in specific gravity as to not require shaking to ensure that they fully integrate.

But vigorously shaking a Manhattan is gaining acceptance, possibly because the principal ingredient is bourbon, a stalwart and hardy spirit that thrives when shaken. Bourbon’s deep rich color prevents any semblance of “bruising,” an affliction associated with a shaken Martini. Another consideration is that shaking a Manhattan will result in a bit more water going into the cocktail, not a bad thing when working with whiskeys.


• UPTOWN VERMOUTH — Mastering the Manhattan requires the use of high quality vermouth. There are perceptible differences in quality between the various brands of vermouth. While it may be inexpensive, vermouth is a complex aperitif wine, one that is difficult and laborious to make well. Suffice to say, the better the vermouth, the better the resulting Manhattan.


• THE APERITIF DIFFERENCE — One of the appeals of the Manhattan, like the Martini, is that it accommodates a great deal of creative latitude. When exploring just how versatile the cocktail is consider substituting another type of aperitif wine for the vermouth. An excellent jumping off point is using one of the two grand dames of the category, Dubonnet and Lillet. Both brands are available in two styles—rouge and blanc. Ideally suited for use in signature Manhattans, the rouge version is made on a base of premium red wine and infused with a proprietary blend of herbs, spices and peels. The wine is fortified with grape spirits to an elevated strength of 19% alcohol by volume.


• FORTIFIED OPTIONS — Incorporating Sherry or port into a Manhattans adds tremendous body, depth of flavor and complexity to the drink. Port is a sensational replacement for sweet vermouth. On the whole they have supple bodies, fruit-laced bouquets and flavor-laden palates. It is especially well suited for pairing with whiskeys and brandies.

Sherry is another stellar fortified wine tailor-made for use in gourmet Manhattans. There are principally two styles of Sherry—Fino, which is dry and delicate and Oloroso, which is full-bodied and semisweet.


• MUDDLED RESULTS — As generations of Old Fashion enthusiasts will attest, bourbon and muddled fruit taste sublime. In the pursuit of a genuinely delicious Manhattan, don’t overlook the creative option of muddling fruit such as oranges, lemons, cherries, peaches, apricots and tangerines and adding it to the cocktail. The selected fruit should be placed into a mixing glass, muddled and the liquid ingredients then added. The bitterness from the pith and the sweetness of the juice make marvelous additions to specialty Manhattans and add greatly to the drink’s production value.


• ENDING CREDITS — The garnish on a Manhattan is a stemmed maraschino cherry. When devising a specialty Manhattan however, creative latitude goes with the territory. Make sure that the garnish you choose complements the taste and enhances the appearance of the cocktail. Possibilities include Amareno cherries, brandied cherries, orange wedge, and lemon or orange twist spiral.


FINEST CALL MANHATTAN RECIPE

MANHATTAN

Cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

2 1/2 oz. Bourbon

1 oz. Sweet Vermouth

Optional: 2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Optional: 1/2 oz. Finest Call Cherry Syrup

Stir and strain

Garnish with a cherry


FINEST CALL SPECIALTY MANHATTAN RECIPES

BLUE GRASS MANHATTAN

Cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

2 1/2 oz. Bourbon

3/4 oz. Dry Vermouth

1/2 oz. Finest Call Blue Curaçao

3-4 dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir and strain

Garnish with a lemon twist


CANDIED APPLE MANHATTAN

Cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

2 1/2 oz. Bourbon

3/4 oz. Finest Call Sour Apple

1/2 oz. Finest Call Cherry Syrup

Stir and strain

Garnish with a cherry


DRY MANHATTAN

Cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

2 1/2 oz. Bourbon

1/2 oz. Dry Vermouth

Optional: 1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir and strain

Garnish Lemon twist


MANHATTAN PEACH

Cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

2 1/2 oz. Bourbon

3/4 oz. Finest Call Peach Puree

1/2 oz. Dry Vermouth

Stir and strain

Garnish with a peach slice and cherry


PASSION MANHATTAN

Cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

2 1/2 oz. Bourbon

3/4 oz. Finest Call Huckleberry Syrup

3/4 oz. Finest Call Passion Fruit Puree

Stir and strain

Garnish with a peach slice and cherry


PERFECT MANHATTAN

Cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

2 1/2 oz. Bourbon

1/2 oz. Dry Vermouth

1/2 oz. Sweet Vermouth

Optional: 2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Optional: 1/2 oz. Finest Call Cherry Syrup

Stir and strain

Garnish with a lemon twist


POM-HATTAN

Cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

2 1/2 oz. Bourbon

3/4 oz. Finest Call Pomegranate Syrup

1/2 oz. Sweet Vermouth

Stir and strain

Garnish with a cherry


RASPBERRY MANHATTAN

Cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

2 1/2 oz. Bourbon

1 oz. Finest Call Raspberry Puree

1/2 oz. Dry Vermouth

Stir and strain

Garnish with a lemon twist


SILK ‘N’ SATIN MANHATTAN

Cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

2 oz. Bourbon

3/4 oz. Sweet Vermouth

3/4 oz. Finest Call Triple Sec

Optional: 1/2 oz. Finest Call Cherry Syrup

Stir and strain

Garnish with a cherry

Difficulty of
Preparation

Upselling
Potential

Alcohol-Free
Options