Thanks to all of you who volunteered such novel and (dare I say) potentially lethal cocktail recipes over the last week. A few hours trapped in an airport bar afforded me the opportunity to try a number of them last night. A few additional hours of dialysis this afternoon reminded me of why this was a Bad Idea. I applaud your creativity, and welcome future submissions on all topics alcoholic and product management-y.
But through it all (and advised by notes scrawled on a moist stack of bar napkins) I was able to identify - with total clarity - the official 2006 summer cocktail.
Welcome. . .The Manhattan.
It's a classic. A. . .dangerous classic. The Manhattan is a cocktail that says 'howyadoin' while reaching for both your wallet and your girlfriend. It lures you in with its sleek visual appeal - served shaken in a martini glass with a cherry, it's murky golden hue filtering the evening light like a liquid pane of stained glass. Dangerous stained glass.
When created with one of the better bourbons (I requested - and received - one fashioned with Makers Mark), it welcomes you with a spike of spiciness shot through with a brief note of sweetness followed by a sharp jab from a concrete-filled glove. Ahh...bourbon.
It's a drink you know is hurting you while you're drinking it. It's the liquid equivalent of putting your car into reverse right after you enter the Avis car return area. You know you've always wanted to see just what Severe Tire Damage feels like. That's a Manhattan.
3/4 oz sweet vermouth (one short glug)
2 1/2 oz bourbon whiskey (four glugs)
1 dash a bitters (shake the bottle once)
1 maraschino cherry
1 twist orange peel (if you're feeling fruity - see below)
Combine the vermouth, bourbon and bitters in a shaker filled with ice. Shake the bejebus out of it, who cares about clouding the whiskey, you're a man, right? You want it to be cooold. Cold like your heart, like the love of an ill-tempered Bavarian pretzel maid. Place the cherry in a chilled martini glass and strain the whiskey mixture over the cherry.
If you happen to forget the cherry until you're about to serve the drink, and happen to rush back to the fridge in search of that 5-year old jar of cherries which you find buried behind the half-empty jar of salsa, that's OK. The drink doesn't care. The Manhattan regards the cherry like the Slim Jim regards the lettuce it passes in your small intestine. With contempt.
If you're feeling especially "fruity" rub a bit of orange peel around the rim of the glass. I can't attest for what this does for the Manhattan. But it sounds. . .nice.
I invite any Manhattan fans to join me in celebrating its victory over a broad pantheon of lesser, better-tasting, less-dangerous beverages.