The Manhattan's fans are legion; they are also, fortunately, innovators.
While there are a handful of cocktails that take the basic Martini and employ respectful riffs, the Manhattan is the mixologist's true muse. Whiskey, vermouth, bitters--a simple, basic trio, but one that lends itself to all manners of variation. Early versions of the venerable drink welcomed dashes of absinthe or maraschino liqueur--if you're wondering why, try it and discover the brilliance a few dashes can make--and wider-ranging interpretations include the Brooklyn, made with the bitter orange Amer Picon, and the Rob Roy, with scotch in place of the rye or bourbon.
These innovations aren't all vintage. Here's a relative of the Manhattan that dates to within the past five years, a drink created by New York bartender Enzo Errico that utilizes its ancestor's rye whiskey base, matches it with the bitter Italian vermouth Punt e Mes, and fills in the flavor with a hearty dose of funky maraschino liqueur. Named for a once rough-and-tumble Brooklyn neighborhood that's since changed with the times, the Red Hook is one of the more memorable variations of the Manhattan.
About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.
- 2 ounces rye whiskey
- 1/2 ounce Punt e Mes
- 1/4 to 1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur, to taste
Pour ingredients into mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir briskly for 30 seconds; strain into a chilled cocktail glass.