AMBER SEXTON New York City 917-207-2375

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cocktails of NYC, Manhattan cocktail

image by Amber Sexton

When taking this photo I realized my table is slanted, but it’s the least of my problems in this apartment. Anyway I could have fixed it in photoshop but leaving it satisfies both a wee bit of authenticity and also laziness.

By now you might have guessed that when making each of these drinks named for a borough of NYC, I’m trying to use a spirit that was made in the city. For now I’ve failed to find a NYC made rye. The Shanty is making a rye, but it doesn’t appear to be ready. They are a few scant blocks from my house and I’ve yet to try out their gin, but I intend to soon. Kings County Distillery only makes a bourbon and moonshine, I’m interested to try the bourbon but it was a bit pricey, $22 for a small bottle at Eight and Driggs. Small enough to be behind the counter to prevent theft. Anyway to make a proper Manhattan, there’s no reason to rely on bourbon anymore now that rye is back in a big way.

Once you expand to NY State, which used to make a lot of rye in the heyday of the beverage you have a some choices. I really liked the Hudson 5 grain bourbon from Tuthilltown Spirits I was given for my birthday and I wanted to try their Manhattan rye. But again it’s a bit expensive at $30 for a small bottle. Then I saw McKenzie Rye, which I remembered reading a review of, and realized it was made in the Finger Lakes. I have soft spot for the Finger Lakes, and especially the Seneca Lake wine trail and knew I wanted to try what Finger Lakes Distilling was making. At $43 it wasn’t cheap, but it’s a reasonable price for a 750ml bottle. And I really do like it. They also seem to be using sustainable methods, grain that is grown locally and knowing the upstate economy I like that.

So…off to drinking. A Manhattan is quite simple to make it is:

2 oz Rye
1 oz Sweet vermouth
couple shakes of bitters. (I have Angostura, but the original way uses the once defunct Boker’s bitters, which is being made again but I haven’t tried any)

You may shake or stir this with ice, I stirred. Then I strained it in a chilled glass with a really fancy Luxardo cherry. It really is a delicious classic drink and totally lovely and flavorful with a smokey rye. I love bourbon but it’s a much sweeter spirit and it’s a different drink with it. I assume you all have had a Manhattan before, since it’s a classic and well known. But if you’ve not had rye, then do because it’s better and it’s what the drink is meant to be. Play around with different italian vermouths if you have them, I just have the standard Martini & Rossi myself but I plan to try Punt e Mes next. When I run out, which seems like it will be a year or two from now.

About the Luxardo cherry. It is the original maraschino cherry, from the producer who makes the best maraschino liqueur and the jar was so expensive I cough to wheeze out the price….$27…....ugh. On the other hand I knew I wanted to try them, I had one in a Rob Roy at a scotch tasting, and it was delicious. Everything about the electric neon bleached out supermarket cherry is not what you find in a Luxardo, which are very strongly cherry tasting, stemless and gothy black. One thing I like about the is the black color is that it takes the drink garnish from a slightly girly look to one that is very masculine and serious, besides the fact that it tastes fantastic. I’ve noticed that I’ve never seen a man order a drink which has a cherry garnish, I think this one can change all that. And certainly the cherry is a bit controversial in the Manhattan, as the olive is in the Martini. Both came later but I think it’s safe to say they are here to stay.

One drawback to the Luxardo cherry is there is no stem, and I have no cocktail skewers of any kind so it only something to look forward to at the end of a drink, rather than eating little morsels of along the way. Also they are breathtakingly expensive for what they are. But I plan to use them to add dark seriousness to other drinks that call for them, and maybe I will put them on a cupcake or two.

Posted by Amber Sexton on 01/23 at 04:05 PM
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