01-01-18 Monday

Manhattan (Medium) – David Embury

1 part French Vermouth (White)

1 part Italian Vermouth (Red)

4 parts Whisky

1 dash of Angostura

Stir and strain into a Martini glass, garnish with a maraschino cherry on a spear


So this was a long way from where I planned on starting things.

I had a horrible suspicion that the 1st of January was going to be a struggle, and Milk Punch, something nice and easy was going to be the best thing.

However, I felt surprisingly good today, New Years Eve went brilliantly, but apart from the compulsory shots all I had was a beer and a Boulevardier, so head and stomach not complaining at all today.

I thought I’d go for something a little more punchy, but scared me hadn’t planned on being this perky so I’m short on a couple of ingredients on national ‘don’t open’ day, and a citrus squeezer, (pulling an emergency shift or three at Goat until Amazon Prime delivers our next batch) which combined with laziness rules out a lot of things.

One of our regulars was kind enough to give me a bottle of Bulleit Bourbon, which has been begging to be opened from the kitchen for a while now, so I thought I’d go punchy to start.

I’ve never been much of a Manhattan fan, I’ve only recently discovered a liking for whisky based drinks, a Boulevardier has been my gateway drink for this, so thought I’d be brave.

The Manhattan is one of Embury’s ‘Six Basic Cocktails’, he quite revolutionarily states at the beginning of the chapter that ‘the average host, who makes no pretence of being an expert on liquors, can get along nicely with a knowledge of how to mix a half dozen good cocktails.’

We do a class on these 6, as they are great drinks, and I agree with Embury, also the technique, style and flavour combinations of these 6 drinks are a great place to start if you are learning. The other 5 are; Martini, Daiquiri, Old Fashioned, Sidecar and a Jack Rose, I promise we will do all of these by the end of the year, mostly because these are 5 of my favourite drinks.

So the Manhattan I’ve made is Embury’s ‘Medium’ Manhattan, or what’s more commonly now known as a ‘Perfect’ Manhattan.

There are 3 main Manhattan recipes, now days, sweet, perfect and dry.

This refers to which vermouth to use, the sweet Manhattan is only Italian Vermouth or red vermouth (the Italians make the best red vermouth, the French the best white vermouths), the dry only white vermouth, the perfect is a mix of both.

I’ve worked in bars now for about 25 years and during that time only 2 people have actually asked for a perfect Manhattan, some staff I’ve worked for think it appropriate to ask what type a guest would like, I think it’s directing them to a certain drink, which by no means is the classic, for who in their right mind would want a sweet or dry imperfect Manhattan, and therein lies the rub.


However, I love this recipe having tried it for the first time, I’ve used lemon zest because I didn’t have cherries at home, or an orange, and I thought this would go nicely with the dry vermouth which tends to love lemons, and to be fair I’ve used Lillet which yes Bond fans, isn’t actually a vermouth, but more on that on Vesper day. And yes it works wonderfully, its light, there’s enough sweetness from the vermouth, its balanced beautifully by the bourbon, AND the lemon zest.

I will definitely be drinking more of these