MxMo XCVII: I'll Take Manhattan!
With no volunteers for May, I'll step in again to host Mixology Monday to keep this feline wrangling party going. The month of May usually makes me think of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic which had been running strong since 2009. Unfortunately, the event was sold off after the 2014 event and the new buyer dropped the ball on things this season. Also on my mind is that I will be finding myself in Manhattan next week on either side of attending Gaz Regan's Cocktails in the Country a bit more upstate. With previous Mixology Monday themes of Martinis and Old Fashioneds, why not Manhattans?
Turning to David Wondrich's Imbibe! for some historical reference, he bandied back and forth about possible creators and locales for this classic's creation. Perhaps it was created many places and many times, for sweet vermouth was the new hot ingredient of the 1870s and 1880s as St. Germain was in 2007 and 2008 (and arguably even to today). Wondrich quoted from the anonymously penned 1898 Cocktails: How To Make Them, "The addition of Vermouth was the first move toward the blending of cocktails." In my mind, the Manhattan takes the Old Fashioned one step further. Not only does it replace the sugar with sweet vermouth, but this sweetener ties its herbal notes to those of the bitters and its spice notes to the barrel-aged whiskey (especially rye whiskey) as well as the bitters again. Furthermore, the addition of a hint of fruit and caramel flavoring is a welcome addition to the mix (I will not directly draw any link to the vermouth's fruit and the cherry garnish though). While there have been a variety of Manhattan variations through the years such as the Preakness and the Brooklyn, most of the twentieth century saw this drink unchanged, in theory that is. I know that I have gotten a cocktail glass full of frothy Bourbon and ice shards at a place that I should have stuck to beer; indeed, both the vermouth and the bitters have fallen out of fashion to some degree at average bars. Other Manhattan experiences used only a splash of vermouth; when I complained, one bartender declared that he did not put too much in. I countered that it was not enough and repeated that I wanted a 2:1 Manhattan. That bartender would not let himself add more and handed me the vermouth bottle so he could be relieved of responsibility in the matter. However, the last decade or so has seen a renewal in the drink begin made correctly. Moreover, I would point to New York City cerca 2005 as the re-birth of the Manhattan variation with drinks like the Red Hook being born.
For this theme, actuate it any way you'd like as long as the drink resembles a Manhattan. Want to take 19th century Manhattan recipes or variations to the test? Want to figure out what the best whiskey to vermouth pairings and ratios are? Or perhaps subbing out the whiskey or vermouth for another ingredient or adding in a liqueur or other modifier or so to the mix? Awesome, you're right on track! There are plenty of Manhattan and Manhattan variations out there in the literature, and there's plenty of room to explore and tinker if that's your thing, too.
Here's how to play:
• Find or concoct a recipe that looks and feels like a Manhattan Cocktail.
• Make the drink and then post the recipe, a photo, and your thoughts about the libation on your blog, tumblr, or website or on the eGullet Spirits and Cocktails forum.
• Include in your post the MxMo logo and a link back to both the Mixology Monday and Cocktail Virgin sites. And once the round-up is posted, a link to that summary post would be appreciated.
• Provide a link to your submission in the comment section here, tweet at @cocktailvirgin, or send an email to yarm-at-verizon.net with the word "MxMo" somewhere in the subject line.
The due date is Monday, May 18th which I will interpret as whatever gets posted before my next day off which could be the 19th or 20th (and yes, I will tack on late entries since it is part of the act of cat herding).