I have always wanted to learn to mix drinks. Not just the normal gin & tonic that I enjoy once in a blue moon, but those drinks I always hear about but never know what's in them.
I've had David explain the difference between whiskey, scotch, rum, cognac, brandies, etc. before. I think I have that straight finally. This year I've decided to become even more versed in "the bar". Mind you, I won't be drinking all of these. That's why I have a husband.
So when I mentioned this during our New Year's Eve dinner last night, David was all for it. He asked that I start with the Manhattan. Voila.
I consulted 3 sources and found that there are a TON of varieties of Manhattans. The origins are a little iffy. Some think that it was invented in a Manhattan bar in the 1860's. There is also a popular theory that it was first served in 1870 London by Winston Churchill's mother (Jennie Jerome a.k.a. Lady Randolph Churchill) at a dinner party for U.S. politicians. Regardless, it's been popular for more than 130 years.
My first drink of 2009 is actually 2 versions of the same. I made an Old Fashioned Manhattan (also called an Original Manhattan) and a Perfect Manhattan. See recipes below. David favors the Old Fashioned because the ice dilutes the strong blended whiskey flavor which really overpowers the bitters and vermouth.
I've asked David to rate the drinks I attempt with a swizzle stick rating - up to 5 swizzle sticks for extra great flavor.
Old Fashioned (Original) Manhattan - 4 swizzle sticks
Perfect Manhattan - 3 swizzle sticks
It will most likely take him the remainder of the evening to get through these, but he insisted I not dilute the Perfect with crushed ice. (It is still rated 3 swizzle sticks after all!) But, he's now on the roof looking for a leak so better to leave the Manhattans for a little later!
Old Fashioned Manhattan - 1.5 oz blended whiskey, 1.5 oz. sweet vermouth, dash Angostura bitters, Maraschino cherry. Mix with cracked ice in a shaker. Pour into a chilled Old Fashioned cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
Perfect Manhattan - 1.5 oz. blended whiskey, 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth, 1/4 oz. dry vermouth, dash Angostura bitters, lemon peel or Maraschino cherry. Mix with cracked ice in a mixing glass and strain into a chilled Martini cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel or cherry.
So there you have it - The Manhattan. And yes, I did sip them but won't be ordering one any time soon :)