Ah… Friday evening after one heck of a week (again)… A friend asked for a remembrance of one of the six classic cocktails (at least according to cocktail bon vivant David A. Embury), so here goes…

The Manhattan is a classic cocktail in that it conforms to a basic cocktail formula – base ingredient (spirit); modifying agent (vermouth); special flavoring (bitters). There are nearly an infinite number of variations including the use of different base spirits, different modifiers and different bitters, not to mention the fact that the rations between these ingredients can be shifted to change the overall character of the final cocktail.

Let’s start with the basic Manhattan:

2 oz. Bourbon

1 oz. Sweet Vermouth

3 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Stir in a cocktail mixing glass with ice cubes for 30 seconds, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a twist.

The traditional Manhattan, or most likely the first incarnation would use Rye whiskey instead of Bourbon – using Rye calls for a slightly higher percentage of Sweet Vermouth if you want to take the edge off the often sour flavor of the Rye.

The Rob Roy is a variation made with Scotch whisky instead of American Whiskey.

The Dry Manhattan is made with dry vermouth instead of sweet vermouth and served with a twist. Dry Manhattans were thought to be popularized by Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, although other sources peg the classic Martini as their drink of choice.

The Perfect Manhattan is made with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth. The definition of a Perfect cocktail is any drink that uses an equal share of dry and sweet vermouth when one or the other is called for in the mix.

The Brandy Manhattan is made with brandy as the base spirit.

The Ruby Manhattan is made with port instead of vermouth as the modifying agent.

The Metropolitan is similar to a brandy Manhattan, but with a 3-to-1 ratio of cognac or brandy to vermouth instead of the basic 2-to-1 mix.

The Cuban Manhattan is a Perfect Manhattan with dark rum as its base spirit.

The Latin Manhattan is made with equal parts of white rum, sweet and dry vermouth, and a splash of Maraschino cherry juice, served up with a twist.

The Royal Manhattan is made with Crown Royal Canadian Whisky as the base spirit. Make sure to use the 2-to-1 ratio, otherwise the drink is off balance and too sweet.

The Tijuana Manhattan is made with an Anejo Tequila as the base spirit.

The Monte Carlo is made with Bénédictine instead of vermouth.

The Soul Manhattan is made with Absinthe instead of vermouth.

The Fourth Regiment is a classic (ca. 1889) cocktail that uses a 1/1 ratio of whiskey and vermouth, and uses three dashes of three different bitters – orange bitters, celery bitters, and Peychaud’s Bitters.

The Black Manhattan is a classic Manhattan that uses Averna in place of the sweet vermouth, giving it a richer, more complex flavor. Fans of Italian amari will love this cocktail.

Dave Embury’s Classic Manhattan is defined as follows:

5 parts American whiskey

1 part Italian (sweet) vermouth

1 dash of Angostura bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and serve garnished with a maraschino cherry.

The Improved Manhattan adds two or three dashes of Absinthe to any of the above recipes.

Whew… Now I’m really thirsty…

(Originally posted on Facebook: September 9, 2011)