The Manhattan has many creative variations; this Perfect Manhattan involves
Maker’s Mark, orange bitters and Martini
& Rossi sweet vermouth.
tenders and servers be more confident
when making recommendations to guests,
they go a long way in helping us create
Much in the same way the Martini
bolstered the popularity of super-
premium gins and vodkas, the Man-
hattan is providing added impetus to
the resurgence of bourbon. To Miller’s way of thinking, the
classic cocktail and its many creative variations are unsurpassed for promoting top-shelf whiskeys. “I can think of no
finer way to showcase a classy bourbon, no matter what the
cost, than the Manhattan.”
The venerable drink originated in 1874 at the Manhattan
Club in New York City. When asked to concoct something
special, the staff devised a cocktail using whiskey, Italian
(sweet) vermouth, bitters and a slice of lemon. Needless to
say, the drink they dubbed the Manhattan Cocktail made a
Every great whiskey bar should have an equally great
Manhattan to its credit. In the process, consider substituting
the sweet vermouth for a different style of aperitif, such as
Dubonnet or Lillet. Both are available in two styles — rouge
and blanc — and are ideally suited for use in signature
Manhattans. In fact, the list of possibilities includes the most
famous names in fortified wines: Port, Sherry and Madeira.
Each imbues the cocktail with a distinctive velvety texture,
fruit-laced bouquet and flavor-laden palates.
As generations of Old Fashioned enthusiasts will attest,
bourbon and muddled fruit taste sublime. Don’t overlook the
creative option of adding muddled oranges, lemons, cherries,
peaches, apricots or tangerines to the cocktail. The fresh
flavors marry beautifully with bourbon and muddling adds
greatly to the drink’s production value.
Another reliable method of bolstering the character of a
Manhattan is to modify it with a liqueur. For example, the
New Orleans Manhattan is made by first swirling the inside
of the chilled cocktail glass with Frangelico. The excess is
discarded prior to pouring in the Manhattan. The liqueur adds
a delightful nutty aroma and flavor to the cocktail.
Perhaps bourbon’s resurgence is behind the renewed
interest in the Manhattan, although it’s equally likely the
revival has everything to do with the drink itself. It is about
as marvelous as a cocktail gets. NCB
Robert Plotkin is a judge at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and has
recently authored his 16th book, Secrets Revealed of America’s Greatest Cocktails. He
can be reached at www.BarMedia.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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