As someone who used to think that cocktails were servings of alcohol with so much sugar as to be crunchy, it has taken the coaching of many knowledgeable and talented friends to convince me not only that cocktails are worth my time, but that they can be an art.
I have gone through several deviations on my path to a prefered drink, from my humble beginnings with gin and tonics in the English countryside to my crazy Wild West Side days (tequila, cucumber and pepper). Today, much to my surprise, my signature cocktail is undoubtedly the Perfect Manhattan. A variation on the traditional Manhattan, it is made by stirring rye, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth and orange bitters, with a lemon twist garnish (cherry optional). I find it to be rich, smooth and blissfully overwhelming.
My first Perfect Manhattan was at Castor Club, a tiny hidden bar in the sixth arrondissement. I asked for a dry drink with rye, and fell in love. I have since procured my own instruments to hone my Perfect Manhattan skills at home.
Perfect Manhattans are all about the delicate interactions between the ingredients, so the higher quality your booze, the better. Rye can be hard to find in Paris, but LMDW by Odéon is a sure bet. I am always happy with Rittenhouse 100 Proof rye.
To fully enjoy your Perfect Manhattan, take your time with the preparation, appreciating the fragrances of the rye and the fresh lemon. Rub the lemon twist around the rim of your glass before putting it in the cocktail. Garnish your experience with low lighting and John Coltrane.
The Perfect Manhattan (recipe from Sam Ross’s fabulous Bartender’s Choice app):
- 2 oz. Rye
- ½ oz. Sweet Vermouth
- ½ oz. Dry Vermouth
- 2 dashes Orange Bitters
Add all ingredients to a chilled Boston glass, add cracked ice and stir for approximately 25/30 seconds, strain into chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.