The Perfect Manhattan Cocktail
I usually make my Manhattan with a middle-of-the-road brand of whiskey. Four Roses is my favorite cocktail bourbon, and Rittenhouse is a reliable and venerable rye.
There is vermouth, and then there is Carpano Antica Formula. This is the original Italian vermouth. There was a time when Italian vermouth meant the red or sweet version, and French vermouth indicated the dry, white variety. The Carpano family has been making this spicy, herbaceous vermouth since the late eighteenth century. It vastly improves any cocktail that uses red vermouth, and is wonderful on the rocks with a twist as an aperitif.
If you are new to being a home mixologist, you might not have bitters, and if you do, it is likely to be Angostura. Nothing wrong with Angostura, although other brands have a bit more character. My two essentials, which I swap according to mood, are Regan’s Orange Number Five Bitters and Fee Brothers’ Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters.
Maraschino cherries—yech. (OK, maybe when I order a Shirley Temple…as if!) Look for Luxardo Marasca Cherries, which are imported from Italy in a thick cherry syrup. American maraschinos are drained of all color and flavor, and then pumped with artificial replacements. What the…? You will have to force yourself to refrain from eating the imported cherrie out of the jar. And if you have ever considered doing the same with maraschino cherries, you have my sympathy.