At times, like the humid days of August when Atlanta becomes one large greenhouse, a bracingly cold cocktail is the only remedy that will do, even for us whiskey purists here at ASW Distillery. As scientists have long known, going for any length of time without a dram of whiskey may have significant ramifications for one's health (link to health article). So what better way to imbibe your daily recommended value of whiskey in the summer months than in the cocktail originally developed at Manhattan's non-ironically named Manhattan Hotel: The Manhattan.
The story goes that Dr. Iain Marshall created the cocktail for a banquet hosted by Winston Churchill's mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, in honor of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden, who months later lost the 1876 presidential election in what is known by historians as "The Corrupt Bargain".
Over the years building our whiskey company from the ground up, we've had an opportunity to explore nearly all facets of the Manhattan - cocktails ranging from floral and bright to robust and downright pungent. To assist you like Sancho Panza in your own quest for the perfect Manhattan, we've compiled each of our team members' favorite recipes.
The Jim Manhattan (the original rye Manhattan, with a twist)
As the fearless leader of our small but growing craft distillery, Jim has discovered a hankering for rye whiskey rivaled only by his thirst for a good story where the truth doesn't interfere. As such, his ideal Manhattan takes its cue from the traditional recipe, yet with a few embellishments.
Well-balanced, dry, and somewhat herbal with citrus notes.
- 1.5oz rye whiskey
- 0.5oz Dolin Rouge vermouth
- 2 dashes orange Angostura bitters.
- Orange peel
Chill a coupe glass while you make the cocktail by putting it in the freezer or filling it with ice and placing it on the counter beside you.
Combine rye, vermouth, and bitters in a cocktail mixing glass over ice. Stir vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into champagne coupe and garnish with orange twist.
The Charlie Manhattan (the traditional bourbon Manhattan)
Years hence, Charlie made a pact with bourbon never to let it collect dust on a shelf when it could be better put to use adorning the bottom of a glass - ideally momentarily. His Manhattan of choice registers towards the sweeter end of the spectrum.
Caramel, fruit, and tobacco and spice, offset by the world's most popular bitters, regular Angostura.
- 2.5oz bourbon whiskey
- 1oz Carpano Antica red vermouth
- 3 dashes original Angostura bitters
- Orange peel
Chill a martini glass while you make the cocktail by putting it in the freezer or filling it with ice and placing it on the counter beside you. It's rumored that the glass will cast welcome spirits as you prepare the drink.
Combine bourbon, vermouth, and bitters over ice in a mixing glass. Stir vigorously for 15 seconds. Empty the ice from the martini glass and strain into the glass. Garnish with the cherry and the orange peel.
The Kelly Manhattan (the "Perfect" Manhattan)
As the leader of Atlanta's Bourbon Women chapter, you might expect Kelly's favorite Manhattan to be Charlie's. Yet her enthusiasm for a good, dry Speyside Scotch leads her into the exclusive, gated community of the Perfect Manhattan, which substitutes half of the sweet red vermouth with dry white, to luxurious effect.
Like a hybrid between the best Manhattan and the best Martini, with the spicy rye and rich, cocoa notes of the Cocchi di Torino balanced by the crispness of the Dolin dry and zesty lemon.
- 2oz rye whiskey
- 0.5oz Cocchi di Torino red vermouth
- 0.5oz Dolin Dry vermouth
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Lemon peel
No secret in how you start preparing this one: chill a coupe glass while you make the cocktail by placing it in the freezer or filling it with ice and placing it on the counter beside you to scrutinize your bar spoon rotation technique.
Combine rye, all vermouth, and bitters over ice in a mixing glass. Stir vigorously for 15 seconds. Empty the ice from the coupe glass and strain into the glass. Garnish with lemon peel.
The Chad Manhattan (the health food Manhattan)
It's well-known around the distillery that Chad's diet consists entirely of lettuce and grass, so he leans towards a healthier alternative to the original Manhattan that adds a splash of orange liqueur. (Orange liqueur totally packs 100% of a body's recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C, right?)
Sweet and spicy, very orange-forward, zesty
- 1 teaspoon Cointreau
- 2oz rye whiskey
- 1oz Dolin Rouge vermouth
- 1 dash 18.21 Prohibition-style aromatic bitters
- Orange twist
Fill a coupe glass with the Cointreau and place in the freezer to chill while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Combine rye, vermouth, and bitters over ice in a mixing glass. Stir vigorously for 15 seconds. Swirl the orange liqueur around the coupe glass, then pour any excess out. Strain the ingredients into the Cointreau-expressed coupe. Garnish with the orange twist.
The Josh Manhattan (the uptown Manhattan)
After setting out for the fertile valleys of craft whiskey from the friendly cliffs of craft beer nigh a year ago, Josh gravitates towards a light, floral Manhattan reminiscent of the best IPAs, albeit a bit sweeter and with more vanilla.
Flavor profile: Sweet yet herbal, with vanilla, citrus, and maybe even a hint of mint.
- 2oz American Spirit Whiskey (bias alert: this is our first whiskey)
- 1oz Dolin Blanc vermouth (note, this is the bottle with blue lettering, not the one with green lettering, which is Dolin Dry)
- 2 dashes orange Angostura bitters
- Orange peel
As with all the others, chill a martini glass while you make the cocktail by putting it in the freezer or filling it with ice and placing it on the counter.
Combine ASW, vermouth, and bitters over ice. Stir vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into martini glass. Garnish with orange peel.
The Justin Manhattan (The spartan manhattan)
Flavor profile: Pure deliciousness, like liquid sunshine
- 2.5oz American single malt whiskey (preferably the one we have in the works)
Pour whiskey into drinking vessel. Sip slowly for 15 seconds. Peer out at the fine gold rim of the world in the waning daylight. Repeat sipping steps. (Justin doesn't like cocktails.)