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In Praise of the Manhattan

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In Praise of the Manhattan

Postby McStubbins » Sun Sep 05, 2010 9:12 am

I continue on my quest to create the perfect manhattan cocktail, experimenting with assorted bourbons and ryes and vermouths.

Bourbon/Rye- I keep coming back to Makers Mark or Knob Creek. Haven't tried many higher end ryes, mostly Sazerac or Russell's Reserve.

Vermouth- Martini & Rossi went by the wayside pretty quickly, I've sorta settled on Noilly Pratt for the time being. Is there any store in town that carries higher end vermouths?

Bitters- can't seem to find much besides the standard Angostura or Fee Brothers.

Cherries- Anyplace in town carry brandied cherries? I use regular old maraschinos, but pour out about 2/3 of the syrup and add brandy. Those aren't too bad, but I'd like to find a better product.

And I prefer the "perfect manhattan," which is the actual name of the drink, made with half sweet and half dry vermouth. Is there any bar/tender in town that stirs up a top-notch manhattan? That would know what I mean when I order one? Usually when I order a perfect manhattan I'm met with "Well, I'll try!"
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Re: In Praise of the Manhattan

Postby chainsawcurtis » Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:31 am

I love Manhattans and I make them the classic way - Two parts whiskey, one part sweet vermouth, couple of dashes Angostura bitters (didn't know there was any other brand!), stirred over cracked ice and strained with a couple of cherries on swords.

In Wisconsin it's almost impossible to get a Manhattan that way unless you specifically order the bartender to do it. I've seen people put mushrooms, green olives, any kind of pickled thing into a Manhattan and I don't get it. It's supposed to be a slightly sweet cocktail with some zing from the bitters.

Black Velvet and a good vermouth makes a nice drink. Vermouth must be a personal preferance because I take the M&R over the Noilly. Cinzano's pretty good too but I'm usually shopping price and I don't think Woodman's has anything really high end.

If you get bored with the Manhattan try this -

Two parts Black Velvet (or any light Canadian whiskey)
One part Tia Maria
Stir over cracked ice

It's called a Moonwalker.
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Re: In Praise of the Manhattan

Postby narcoleptish » Mon Sep 06, 2010 8:50 am

Your best chance in Madison for your Perfect Manhattan is probably at Smoky's or possibly a customer-trained tender at the Elks Club. Mike at the Madison Club would do it right too.

For all the years I bartended I never learned a lot of the classics that well. My employers were all Captain & Coke joints. I always appreciated it, if I wasn't swamped, when an old-timer walked me through their particular old favorite, but without repeated pourings I'd forget it. In the warm weather I like a Vodka Collins but it's like the Rorschach inkblot of mixed drinks. Vanessa at Maduro always made a great one.

Try Vom Fass on University Ave for your cherries and vermouth.
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Re: In Praise of the Manhattan

Postby TheBookPolice » Mon Sep 06, 2010 10:06 am

Small-batch "craft" bitters are on the rise right now, but usually still need to be acquired from the producer, either at the distillery or online.
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Re: In Praise of the Manhattan

Postby McStubbins » Mon Sep 06, 2010 11:30 am

Wow, how have I never even heard of Vom Fass? I must go. Thanks!
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Re: In Praise of the Manhattan

Postby Petro » Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:53 pm

TheBookPolice wrote:Small-batch "craft" bitters are on the rise right now, but usually still need to be acquired from the producer, either at the distillery or online.

I know some people have been making their own, too; much like the various high-end cocktail lounges.

That sounds an awful lot like <Snarky blog commenter>"I make my own bitters at home."</Snarky blog commenter>
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Re: In Praise of the Manhattan

Postby TAsunder » Wed Sep 08, 2010 10:01 am

I love the dodsfall manhattan at magnus. It's incredibly smooth and flavorful. Maybe not for the traditionalist, though, since they substitute benedictine for vermouth. Still, I highly recommend it. Or any of their cocktails, really. They do an incredible job there with their cocktails.
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Re: In Praise of the Manhattan

Postby Dulouz » Wed Sep 08, 2010 11:59 am

I have never had a problem getting an excellent Perfect Manhattan at the Weary Traveller of all places. Most bartenders might ask about the "perfect", and then be quite cool with it. I usually make it a double just to even out the measurements (which was known as a "Brownie" back in the day). It is my drink of choice in the fall, but may be the best cocktail of all time.
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Re: In Praise of the Manhattan

Postby babelfish » Wed Sep 08, 2010 12:28 pm

i love manhattans, i would guess that Old Fashioned would make a pretty good one

i started out with a bastardized version of the manhattan, but i still drink it from time to time for sentimental reasons:
seagram's vo
sweet vermouth
couple olives
on the rocks

i have since tried truer versions substituting better quality booze, adding bitters, cherries, etc....but i still prefer them with olives, i guess it is just what i'm used to (and i like olives)

i more often drink good whiskey or scotch on the rocks, or neat...but the manhattan is a good option when eating out (except when they put too much damn vermouth in it)
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Re: In Praise of the Manhattan

Postby joey » Sat Nov 27, 2010 2:55 pm

i'll be that guy to say that i make my own bitters. its decent and easy to make. heres a link to the recipe:
from there you can find a link to making you're own maraschino cherries. or use google. or or ebay to buy them.
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Re: In Praise of the Manhattan

Postby HeyAmy » Sat Mar 26, 2011 10:27 am

Manhattan "perfect"ion has been obtained most recently at Mickey's. The bartender admitted to striving. Historically I have also had nice perfects at Orpheum, & Kennedy Manor (years ago). Had to send it back at Greenbush. I go against sweet which usually is banal (think HFCS) so my friend's recommended twist works nice for me. Though now I am intrigued by a really tasty cherry!!! thanks for the idea!!
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