The Midtown Manhattan

Scott Gargus concocts his own version of this classic cocktail.

The classic whiskey cocktail, the Manhattan, is one of my go-to drinks. It’s a staple in any bartender’s book of tricks – easy to make and pretty forgiving, provided that you employ quality ingredients in its construction. I don’t venture out to bars very often, and have yet to visit one (so far) post-pandemic, so I’ve appropriated a few recipes and cobbled together what I like to call the Midtown Manhattan.

The Midtown Manhattan is the (not incredibly) clever moniker combining both the standard name of the cocktail and the neighborhood in which I consume this magical elixir. For anyone reading this that is an actual bartender, I apologize in advance. 

I concoct the beverage by starting out with my favorite “rocks” glass, drop in a giant ice cube (I use this tray), then fill my glass somewhere between ⅓ to ½ full of Rye whiskey. I’ve used several over time, but have come to realize that I like my drink better if the whiskey is at least 100°. I like Knob Creek Rye as a standard option (their Cask Strength is preferred, though more expensive); however, I’ve lately treated myself to our Union Horse Brown Derby Barrel Select Reunion Rye (126.5°, limited availability, seriously – hurry!) and found that the heat from the higher proof balances nicely with the sweetness of the vermouth (more on that later.) The bottom line is to find a whiskey that you like to sip, since that’s mostly what this drink is about anyway.

Next, I add a splash of Angostura Bitters, which is a regular part of most recipes. I take it a little further and give a shake (or two) of Fee Brothers Orange Bitters and occasionally toss in a couple of drops of Peychaud’s and Woodford Reserve Spiced Cherry Bitters, partially because the Peychaud’s adds a little mouth-feel dryness and the Cherry has a red-hot candy note—but also partially because they reside on the counter with the other two.

Lastly, I pour about another third-glass of Vermouth, usually Cocchi Vermouth di Torino or Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth (both outstanding in cocktails or on their own), give the cube a little swirl and, if I’m feeling extra special, I’ll spear a Lazzaroni Amaretto Cherry with a toothpick and drop it on top of the ice cube. It’s a sweet indulgence, but tastes so good about halfway through the cocktail.

So that’s it—the Midtown Manhattan: a not-so-carefully-crafted cocktail that tastes great and disappears surprisingly fast. Consumption setting recommendation: on the patio, in a comfy chair, watching a (controlled) fire-pit, listening to great tunes, and talking to good friends. Enjoy! 

— Scott Gargus (6/11/20)

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