Monday, January 18, 2021

Classic Cocktails: Reverse Perfect Manhattan

The Manhattan is one of the Ur-classics of the cocktail world - its simple ingredients and proportions encapsulate the late-19th and early-20th century drinks zeigeist in the same way as the Martini. One of the earlier variations was the Perfect Manhattan, using a split of both sweet and dry vermouth to take some of the sweetness out of the drink for those with a drier palate. The Reverse Manhattan (or, perhaps, the Original Manhattan) performs another flip by inverting the proportions to more vermouth than whiskey.

Inspired by an article from Kara Newman and my current search for low(er)-alcohol cocktails, I wondered what would happen if the two variations were put together. Especially with big, flavorful vermouths like Cocchi di Torino, I could imagine the whiskey getting lost. But with a slug of lighter, less rich dry vermouth to keep things in check, maybe the results could be even better. The Diplomat had a similar split of dry and sweet vermouths, though in that case the sweet was acting more as a flavoring agent like the gin in a Reverse Martini. 
Perfect Reverse Manhattan
0.75 oz dry vermouth
0.75 oz sweet vermouth
0.5 oz American whiskey
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients, stir with ice for fifteen seconds, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with several cocktail cherries and a smidge of syrup.
The aromas are driven by the dry vermouth and inflected with rye spice and grain plus a little roundness from the sweet vermouth and cherries. The sip begins with vermouth and cherry sweetness, sliding through dry vermouth tartness into pleasant bitterness and rye spice towards the back. The finish is Angostura and vermouth bitterness plus a bit of grape roundness in the background.

This turned out exactly the way I hoped it would, with the various components in pleasant balance. Looking at the structure there are a few ways to adjust it to your preferences - the ratios of the vermouths can be tweaked to make it sweeter or drier and differing amounts of syrup can be added with the cherries to provide a different kind of sweetness. However you choose to make it, this is a full-flavored drink with less of a punch to the liver.

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