Wet Bar Wednesday – Manhattans

While there are plenty of cocktails to keep you amused, sometimes it’s nice to have something a little simpler.  Maybe you want to evoke an air of sophistication.  Maybe you’re too tired to think through your mental catalog of favorite drinks.  Maybe you’re interested in stocking a minimum number of bar items.  Sometimes, simpler is better.

Whiskey is enjoying a massive increase in popularity and visibility these days.  There are bazillions of different labels out there, from the traditional 800-lb gorillas like Jack Daniels, to smaller start ups that like to brag about how few bottles they produce each year.  Prices are all over the board.  Predictably, a lot of boutique whiskeys have become popular when they aren’t appreciably different (let alone better) than some of the corporate monsters.  
You can drink whiskey straight, either with or without ice (on the rocks vs. neat).  If you want to look knowledgeable and sophisticated, order your whiskey neat (just the straight liquor poured into a glass – not mixed with anything, not shaken with ice and then strained, not over ice).  
Alternately, with a couple of simple additions you have a classic cocktail – the Manhattan.
  • 1 part whiskey
  • 1/4 – 1/2 part sweet vermouth (make sure you buy sweet vermouth, not dry vermouth!)
  • dash of bitters
Mix ingredients and pour over ice.  Garnish with a cherry.  
You can (and should) modify the amount of sweet vermouth you add to suit your tastes.  Some people prefer the drink rather dry, and put very little vermouth in.  Others (like me) enjoy more vermouth.  If you’re making the drink at someone else’s request, asking them this question is a good way to increase your odds of providing a drink that they’ll really enjoy.  
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