Thursday, August 30, 2012

Manhattan Variations: Little Italy

OK—here goes another Manhattan-like cocktail named for a neighborhood. Internet articles abound on this one, but in case you missed Audrey Saunders’ Little Italy, it’s one of my favorites of these neighborhood outings. Cynar takes the place of the Manhattan’s usual aromatic bitters to subtle and elegant effect. Audrey uses Martini & Rossi vermouth, though it seems just fine with Dolin.


Little Italy
  • 2 oz rye (Rittenhouse 100)
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Cynar
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Luxardo cherries with a little syrup.

That Pegu link takes you to the site for the Pegu Club in West Houston Street. For the recipe, Imbibe has a nice article, though I’m liking Chuck Taggart’s piece at Looka! as it has that cozy feeling we so appreciate here at the Lounge.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Calling All Manhattans: WDM

For those just arriving at this cocktail party, I’m blogging Manhattan recipes folks send in as well as some of the more unusual variations and sundry bits of Manhattanalia.

And the one below just goes to show that this Manhattan Cocktail party is open to all, whether you blog drinks or not. This is the first time I’ve heard from WDM—at least that I’m aware of—and I thoroughly enjoyed this Punt e Mes edition.


  • 2 oz Rittenhouse Bonded
  • 1 oz Punt e Mes
  • 3 – 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Appropriate cherry garnish.

Rich but bright enough to be recognizable as a Manhattan. I’ve made similar many times myself, being a major Punt e Mes fan.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Manhattan Calling: Vermouth!

My refrigerator’s always crowded with a bunch of bottles of vermouth and related wines—probably a typical state of affairs for a cocktail enthusiast. You might think my current Manhattan kick should help use all that stuff down but it’ll probably have the opposite effect. In fact, it already has. I try to restrain myself and concentrate on drinks that can be made from the open ones, but vermouths are not quite interchangeable and I want them all.

Swell sweet vermouth links in no particular order:

Vermouth 101 by Martin Doudoroff.

The folks at Summer Fruit Cup review an astonishing total of 18 red vermouths.

Make vermouth! Haven’t tried myself but Serious Eats has a recipe.

French vermouth production at Noilly Prat with Camper English at Alcademics.

Classic Manhattan vermouth taste test post by Anita at Married with Dinner.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Manhattan Variations: Room Temperature Manhattan

Knowing that I’m particular about my drinks, a well-meaning bartender made my Manhattan with a vermouth that he knew was of better quality than the well: Cocchi Vermouth di Torino. This was fine except that it didn’t have the snap I expect in a Manhattan. Having bought a bottle, I tasted it against the others in the refrigerator and realized there was no detectable cinchona bite. The mellowness made me think of a room temperature cocktail.


Room Temperature Manhattan
  • 1 dash Fee Bros Aromatic Bitters
  • 3/4 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
  • 2 oz bourbon (Buffalo Trace)
  • 1/2 oz water, or to taste
Build in a snifter and stir gently.

The water is there to stand in for the dilution that would come from ice, and it opens up the whiskey and botanicals.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Manhattan Variations: Coney Island

I was looking for distinctive riffs on the immortal Manhattan and spotted this chocolate version, an original by Frederic at Cocktail Virgin Slut. It’s like a cross between a Manhattan and one of those forbidden ice cream things you buy on Surf Avenue thinking you really shouldn’t but it’s like some kind of twisted heaven. It’s even got the little malty thing like the cone or the wafers or whatever. And it tastes more and more like a Manhattan and less like a kiddy ride as you get to the bottom—until you pop the red cherry.

Coney Island
  • 2 oz Old Overholt
  • 1/2 oz Punt e Mes
  • 1/2 crème de cacao (Marie Brizard)
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Maraschino cherry.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Calling All Manhattans: The Pegu Blog

For those of you just joining us, I’ve asked folks to send in their thoughts on the venerable Manhattan Cocktail, and I’ll make and blog whatever recipes I can manage through the end of September, making allowances for the availability of brands and whether or not my fingers develop rigor mortis around the barspoon.

Doug at the The Pegu Blog has thoughts of his own on this eternal cocktail. Judging by the results of my attempt to follow his instructions, I must’ve done something right, as this was a rich, boozy, spicy rye number after my own heart. Doug suggested Russell’s 6 or Rittenhouse—both favorites here at the Lounge, though Rittenhouse was what I had on hand. No mention of a vermouth brand so I hope Carpano Antica was acceptable for this recipe. Sure tasted good.


  • 2 1/4 oz Rittenhouse 100
  • 3/4 oz Carpano Antica Formula
  • 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir with ice—for crying out loud, stir—and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Brandied cherry.

All that Angostura? Yup, and I spiked the bottle, too, all you drippers. With big rye and dense vermouth, why fool around? Tasty.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Calling All Manhattans: Spirited Remix

I’m in a major Manhattan mood, and have invited anyone else who wants to play along to send in a favorite recipe. DJ HawaiianShirt of Spirited Remix offered his iteration, and of his recommended bourbons, I realized I hadn’t had a Knob Creek for months. He suggested 3 to 1, so I made the base spirit a 2 1/4 pour to simplify the measuring. And it sounds like he likes to sling the Angostura bottle like I do.


  • 2 1/4 oz Knob Creek Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz Dolin Rouge
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. The DJ says he likes this with an orange peel as often as a brandied cherry, and that happens to be my own preference for the bourbon option.

Light orange candy from the twist and cinnamon spice on the front give way to autumn leaves and vegetal notes in this classic interpretation of, um, a classic.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Calling All Manhattans

People ask me all the time for my favorite cocktail and I always tell them there isn’t one. But the drink that comes closest to that description, my default notion of a cocktail, is definitely the Manhattan. And there are not less than three ingredients: whiskey, vermouth and bitters. It’s fine to tart it up occasionally with a dash of this or that but the basic three are essential to the drink. A garnish is nice but not necessary. (And for goodness’ sake, bartenders, ask me before you start pouring anything that once held preserved cherries in it. Betcha that bar guide sitting behind you doesn’t include it in the recipe.)

With that in mind, the variations are sometimes a lot of fun. My favorite Manhattans are rye ones but the right bourbon and bitters combo can be wonderful. There can be amaro-type stand-ins for the vermouth or other herbals for the cocktail bitters. Some Manhattans are more Manhattanite than others, but if you live in Red Hook and get into the city now and then, no one will think the less of you.

So I’d like to see what other people are drinking. From now through the end of September, please send in recipes—a favorite or something you thought unusual. Email me or post a comment below. I’ll write you up and link to your post, or you can have me make and photograph the drink and post it for you.

Here’s one I’ve been doing lately—sort of interesting in that it looks a little different but tastes, well, like a Manhattan.

Manhattan du Jour
  • 2 oz Rittenhouse 100
  • 3/4 oz Dolin Rouge
  • 2 dashes Bitter Truth Creole Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Manhattan Variations: Remember the Maine

Maybe there ought to be a few more drinks named for historical events so they’d stand a better chance of being remembered. One time I was in a bar, looking casually at some photos of planes and airmen on the wall, when along came a friendly guy who wanted to tell me and my friend all about them. Military history buffs are often remarkable people but the best of them understand whether a stranger two tables away might or might not have a desire to know immediately how those six fellows happened to be in China.

I don’t read a lot of military history. But if every drink on the menu contained some historical fact in the name or description, I could have learned them all before I had even ordered, and countered with some trivia of my own. Think of the educational value alone if we incorporated historical allusions with our cocktail lists. I bet you could teach the average sorority girl the entire Second World War.

Remember the Maine
  • 2 oz rye
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 2 tsp cherry brandy
  • 1/2 tsp absinthe
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

This was my first recipe with Rothman & Winter Orchard Cherry. It’s lighter in color and flavor than Cherry Heering. I don’t know that I have a preference either way, though the Orchard Cherry was good with the similarly light and clear Dolin Rouge vermouth.

I borrowed the recipe off my fellow cocktail bloggers. Paul manages to work in a McKinley reference. Filip has a grand picture.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Golden Gate No. 2

I found this while rummaging around for San Francisco cocktails in John Poister’s New American Bartender’s Guide and thought it looked interesting. The version he gives is sort of a Twentieth Century with rum accents—more gin-forward than the one below from the CocktailDB. Wanting more of a rum cocktail, I gotta wonder what was meant by “light rum,” since the standard options give this thing no focus at all. But made with Wray & Nephew White Overproof, it’s a completely different story.

Golden Gate No. 2
  • 3/4 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz light rum (Wray & Nephew)
  • 1/4 oz 151 proof Demerara rum
  • 1/2 oz white creme de cacao
  • 1/2 oz Falernum
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This is a miniature ocean of Tiki magic served straight up. There’s supposed to be a curled orange slice garnish but it sounded too fussy for my nice little gold-rimmed glass—like it would just hit you in the nose or something.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


I dunno—I feel like I should expand my range of garnishes. I’m pretty much reduced to twists, cherries and lime shells these days, if anything at all.

So that said, here for your delectation is another plain brown cocktail. It’s citric but aromatic too, a combination I like more and more. There’s some Punt e Mes, which gets together with the other elements in a way that suggests lemon oil or lemongrass, even though there’s none in there. So it tastes brighter than it looks. Maybe when I make this again, I’ll go find a shaft of fresh lemongrass and stick a piece of it in the drink to dress it up a little.

  • 1 1/2 oz reposado tequila
  • 3/4 oz Punt e Mes
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 2 dashes Fee Bros Aztec Chocolate Bitters
  • 1 – 2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
  • 1/4 oz amber agave nectar
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The flavor sort of reminds me of oxidized copper too. (Remember being told as a kid not to put pennies in your mouth? I must not have paid too much attention.)
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