The cocktail is an art form that peaked in the middle of the 20th century and has been in rapid decline since. As a young lad, I was schooled in the fine art of cocktailing by my father and grandfathers, I learned many valuable lessons that I plan to pass on. I also want to resurrect some of the old classics that vastly surpass the sugary & fruity concoctions made today with their simplicity, elegance and bold flavors. Most of the time I will focus on one drink, and to provide, at least in my opinion, the definitive recipe, but hope to expand to other related topics as I see fit. Please mix yourself a cocktail, read, drink, and enjoy!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Manhattan Revisited

In an effort to make up for my recent dereliction of duty, I am coming with one of the best recipes to cross my lips in a very long time. Most would argue that it is a losing proposition to try and improve on one of the all time classics, but this amazing variation comes damn close. Whichever version you prefer the Manhattan is the epitome of a classic and seems most in its element in the cold months of the year; if you can add a roaring fire, a tweed jacket and a pipe, you’ll become my new mascot and poster boy.

A friend of mine told me that locals in Manhattan don’t drink Manhattans, I am still debating the statement, but either way it is where the drink originated. As with many cocktails from the nineteenth century, there are many who claim credit for creating the drink, and many variations on the story. It is safe to say that the drink as we know it originated in the 1860s or 1870s in Manhattan, whether in the Manhattan club or another bar. The history behind this variation is very clear though. The recipe appears in the 1930 holy book of cocktailing, the Savoy Cocktail Book. In a reckless act of pure genius that could only have been pulled off by a Yank serving a bunch of Brits, the ratio of vermouth and whiskey is switched from the more traditional version served on this side of the pond. Add a bit of maraschino and you have Craddock’s take on the Manhattan.

To create this drink start with two ounces of sweet vermouth, my current favorite is Cinzano, in a cocktail pitcher. Add an ounce of good bourbon, Maker’s Mark has not failed me yet in a Manhattan. Add a teaspoon of the syrup from your cocktail cherry jar and two dashes of Angostura bitters. Fill with ice and stir well. Serve in a chilled cocktail glass with three homemade cocktail cherries.

Savoy Manhattan
2 oz sweet vermouth
1 oz bourbon
2 dashes angostura bitters
Stir all the ingredients in an ice filled cocktail pitcher. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with cherries.