Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New York City Cocktails Part I: The Manhattan

I've been working on this blog now for the better part of a month chronicling my experience as a bartender. This coming weekend is my one year anniversary as a bartender and I would like to thank everyone who has been supportive of my attempts to learn how to properly make a drink. From my co-workers who have been patient with my constant questions, to my superiors who have been patient with my mistakes to my friends and patrons who have been willing to help me out with tasting cocktails, suggestions for future drinks and most importantly, putting cash in my tip bucket. Thank you all for everything. I greatly appreciate it. On that note, this is something that happened to me last night.

The big boss came in last night on his way to having dinner and one of our regulars offered to buy him a drink and he decided on a specific type of Manhattan. The Manhattan is one of the oldest cocktails and is considered to be a classic cocktail on par with the Old Fashioned and the Martini. According to Mr. Boston's Official Bartender's Guide 75th Anniversary Edition:
The Manhattan appears to have come onto the scene about 1882, at which time it was mentioned that a cocktail made from just whiskey, sweet vermouth and butters was coming into vogue. It went by not only "Manhattan" but also "Turf Club Cocktail" and "Jockey Club Cocktail". The "Manhattan" moniker almost certainly comes from the Manhattan Club of New York, with other clubs eager to have their names attached to the drink as well.

According to King's Handbook of New York City 1892 Edition:
The Manhattan Club, at the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street was organized in 1865, and reorganized in 1877. The home of the club was located at the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 15th Street until 1891, when it purchased the white marble mansion built by A.T. Stewart. The Manhattan has one of the largest, most commodious and most beautiful club-houses in the world, and is celebrated moreover for its delicious cuisine.

Here is the recipe as Mr. Boston's list for today's palates:
The Manhattan Cocktail
2 oz. Rye Whiskey
.5 oz. Sweet Vermouth
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Garnish: Maraschino Cherry, preferably Italian

Stir with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry.
The drink is now commonly made with Bourbon Post-Prohibition though Rye Whiskey is making a comeback within bartending circles.

So the big boss asked for his Manhattan to be made with Rye Whiskey, Old Overholt specifically, not too sweet in an extra chilled cocktail glass. Apparently I made it to his specifications and to his taste buds' satisfaction. Whew, I passed the test. LOL.

In honor of my achievement, I decided to make myself a Manhattan. Now the only thing where I messed up in making mine was that I shook it instead of stirring causing the drink to have some foam along the top where it the drink is supposed to be clear. Forgive me for my noob caused boo-boo. Well, here it is. My Manhattan:


How did I like it? I prefer a Manhattan with Rye Whiskey as opposed to Bourbon. I've tasted a Maker's Mark Manhattan in the past and found it too harsh and bitter. I found the Old Overholt Rye Whiskey Manhattan to be smooth and not harsh in the least. I add a touch of the cherry liquid to the ingredients for an extra bit of flavor. This cocktail really is a thing of beauty. By just looking at its simplicity and elegance, its no wonder how this cocktail has been able to stand the test of time.

On a bit of trivia, apparently Old Overholt was the preferred Rye Whiskey of legendary gunslinger Doc Holliday. Click here to watch a video Doc Holliday Museum tour located in Griffin, Georgia which has an old bottle of Old Overholt in a display case.

On a side note, since I'm a born and raised New Yorker, I will be profiling the other four cocktails that are named after the five boroughs that make up the Greater City of New York. Next will be the borough where I currently reside: The Bronx.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access American Whiskey: Messin' 'Round The Old Mawn-Nonga-Heelah
Button up your Overholt, when the wind blows free... for a history of the Overholt Family