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Entries from 5 February 2011
27 February 2011 · 13 Comments
25 February 2011 · 19 Comments
Now, we have a third S.I.P. – an exciting on-line event for Russian-speaking blogers-imbibers. If you are following my blog, you may know what the S.I.P. is something like a Russian-speaking MxMo. Previous two S.I.P. kindled the Russian-speaking mixosphere and gave rise to some new blogs. So we will see who will delurk at the today’s event!
The main topic of the S.I.P. is the Manhattan. That’s a coincidence! Actually, I have had the Manhattan time during the last two months. The Manhattan is my passion. No, I should define it more precisely, the Manhattan is my challenge. No other cocktail exhilarates me more than the Manhattan. The Manhattan is an absolutely magnificent cocktail with its own story, its unique composition and look.
A popular story about the creation of the Manhattan Cocktail tells that the Manhattan was created in 1874 by a Dr. Iain Marshall for a banquet hosted by Lady Randolph Churchill (born Jeanette Jerome, a daughter of a notorious New York’s tycoon Leonard Jerome), the mother of one of the most outstanding Brits. The banquet was organized at the Manhattan Club in honor of an electoral victory of Samuel J. Tilden – the Governor of New-York, a famous politician and a Leonard’s old friend. The cocktail was named after his birth-place.
Actually, I think, that Jeanette Jerome – a noted beauty and a member of New-York’s high society – was worthy to be a godmother of the Manhattan. But some notorious facts destroy the story. As a matter of fact, the banquet took place at the Manhattan Club, New-York, USA, on December 29, 1874. A very curious detail: as we know Sir Winston Churchill was born on November 30, 1874, prematurely, at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England. In the second half of the XIX century there was only one way to cross the Atlantic – by boat and the voyage normally took about two weeks! It seems improbable for a woman, who just has given birth, to travel a distance of about 3000 miles and organize the banquet.
On the other hand, cocktail historian William Grimes specifies that Manhattan Club’s records indicate that the drink was invented there, but without noting of a precise date. He suggests that the banquet only popularized the Manhattan.
Thus, the New-York’s origin of the Manhattan Cocktail is absolutely specified. In fact, as some competent people say, New-York was a rye-drinking city in the XIX century. So, American rye whiskey is an authentic type of whiskey for the Manhattan. Both bourbon and brandy came in after the Manhattan gained popularity in some other states. But then Prohibition turned everything upside down, all was changed. During Prohibition, whiskey as well as other kinds of liquor was not produced. American whiskey was dead. But Manhattan was not. The Manhattan Cocktail obtained new fresh blood – the Canadian whisky. Actually, Canadian whisky, also called Canadian Rye Whisky, is quite a different type of whiskey. It has different maturing and blending methods but it makes use of similar to American whiskies raw materials – corn, rye, barley etc. Legal European bartenders and, of course, illegal bartenders of American speakeasies had a practice of using Canadian Rye in the Manhattan during the Prohibition. And it was then, I think, Canadian Rye Whisky became a third proper type of whiskey for the Manhattan.
Well, we know that the Manhattan is a truly American cocktail which consists of whiskey, vermouth and cocktail bitters. The Manhattan has three standard executions – properly speaking, the Manhattan (‘Sweet’ Manhattan), the Dry Manhattan (with dry vermouth instead of sweet vermouth) and the Perfect Manhattan (with both sweet and dry vermouths in it).
It seems toIt seems so simple. But actually the Manhattan has a great shade – potential which lies in using three pretty different types (-sic! Not trademarks, but three different types!) of whiskey. Vermouth also boasts a rich variety. And a range of cocktail bitters is unbelievably wide. It all makes a Manhattan quite a diverse cocktail though within a standard variation. Now I decide to devote the entry to my favorite recipes of three typical variations of the Manhattan. I am exploring each of these over and over again. The recipes below reflect my today’s vision of the Manhattan.
50 ml rye whiskey or bourbon
25 ml sweet vermouth
1 dash Angostura bitter
Stir all ingredients in a mixer glass filled with ice cubes. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a red cocktail cherry.
Actually I prefer to use Canadian Whisky in my Manhattan. If I am in proper mood I use smooth and not very spicy bourbon. I regret to confess that I have only one bottle of American rye and do not use it in my Manhattans. Why? Because WILD TURKEY Rye 101 proof is an extremely powerful spirit and it easily kills my ordinary vermouths in the Manhattan. That result is categorically unsuitable for me. My Manhattan is about vermouth, not whiskey. The Manhattan, I am concerned with , is not the Old-Fashioned one . The idea of the Manhattan lies in pairing vermouth and whiskey and not in making whiskey easy to swallow.
My average Manhattan is a well-balanced, smooth and little spicy potation with some velvet bitterness. Properly made it is quite a libation.
My next Manhattan is the Dry Manhattan. When I say ‘dry’, it must be dry. I mean, a standard 2:1 version with dry vermouth instead of sweet is not dry enough for my palate. Therefore I use Embury’s proportions (5 : 1) for the Dry Manhattan:
70 ml bourbon
14 ml dry vermouth
1 generous dash orange bitters
Stir all ingredients in a mixing-glass with a lot of ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Another important point is using orange bitters instead of Angostura for a great dry taste. I prefer using light bourbon like Four Roses in my Dry Manhattan.
My Dry Manhattan is a pretty dry cocktail. Not fabulous but dry enough. Both bitters and essential oils of lemon peel help drying the cocktail. The entry is dry with a hint of bourbon sweetness, the palate is dry and herbal, and the finish is complex with prevailing bitterness of citruses. My average Dry Manhattan is a well-balanced, dry and moderate cocktail.
Well, and now some words about the Perfect Manhattan. The next recipe I have borrowed from the one of my favorite cocktail book ‘Cocktails and Mixed Drinks’ by Anthony Hogg.
40 ml straight rye whiskey or Canadian rye whisky
20 ml dry vermouth
20 ml sweet vermouth
1 dash Angostura bitter
Stir all ingredients with a lot ice in a mixer glass. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry and lemon peel.
Basically, the perfection of the cocktail lies in equal ratio between whisky and vermouths not in equal ratio between vermouths. My Perfect Manhattan is a herbalicious, well-balanced cocktail with moderate spiciness. Actually the balance of it is quite close to my average Manhattan. It is the golden mean of Manhattans. By the way I often prefer the Perfect Manhattan with Peychaud’s bitters instead of Angostura. It gives yet another kind of bitterness, you know.
Finally let me make a short brief:
1. Rye you must. But Canadian whisky works quite well too.
2. Good vermouth makes a good Manhattan. A crap makes a crap. Cinzano works.
3. No Manhattan without bitters. But I mean bitters in quite a wide sense. Palatable bitters sometimes work as good as cocktail bitters, but the Angostura is that will do.
4. Do not shake the Manhattan, it will bruise an excellence.
5. Garbage in, garbage out. And, one drop of poison infects the whole tun of wine. There is no place for any drop of chemical cherry juice in the Manhattan. So, macerate your own cocktail cherries or wash well commercial cherries for garnishing good Manhattans.
6. It seems ‘so bitter’ for you? Leave it and leave me alone!
15 February 2011 · 8 Comments
Well, I feel like putting aside for a while my Manhattan project because some new creative horizons opened before me with the arrival of some samples of whisky which I got from the Master of Malt – a British whisky retailer with 25 year experience and world-wide reputation. Some time ago they launched an impressive marketing service called Drinks by the Dram. This innovation gave whisky lovers also neophyte alike the opportunity to order and taste 30 ml (about 1 fl. oz) samples of they brilliant stuff – wide range of whisky, whiskey and other interesting spirits. Another remarkable idea – the Master of Malt develop wide range topical dram sets which help us to taste many great whisky from different regions. The dram sets are an invaluable present for anyone who has a crush on whisky.
Now, I have received the so pretty box:
In the box I have found three little wax-sealed bottles with whisky:
You can imagine how exhilarated I was to get the parcel with sample. The Master of Malt gave me a chance to taste three dram of whisky – two Single Malt Whisky (Laphroaig Quarter Cask и Glengoyne 10 Years Old) and one bourbon (Johny Drum Black Label). Usually I write reviews of different spirits in my Encyclopedia of liquor, and it is not an exception. My full reviews of them coming soon!
My today’s post is devoted to quite an interesting cocktail which I had been dallying with for quite a long time before I got a proper whisky. I mean Smoky Martini – a curious variation of Dry Martini with scotch instead of traditional vermouth. The snag is that we should use smoky or peated scotch (like Isle Mist or one of famous single malts such as Laphroaig, Lagavulin or the like).
And now I will make a short digression to make a confession that my fascination with whisky is of theoretical nature. It is the cocktail that I am totally, irresistibly and unconditionally in love with. As regards whiskies, I like exploring them as potential ingredients. Besides single malts cost a pretty penny. There is yet another, romantic side to this interest of mine, a sort of ‘my heart’s in the Highlands…’, you know. I fell under the spell of the austere beauty of the wind-swept islands on which a long- standing tradition of distilling whisky has been passed from a generation to generation. Like anything in this world that boasts centuries long tradition whisky has a magnetic pull for me.
And now let me go back and continue the main thread of our discussion. Now that I got a sample of great inimitably flavoured Laphroaig Quarter Cask did I decide to try a variation of the Smoky Martini, a well- known variation of the Dry Martini cocktail which began its life in the eighties of last century. That was the beginning of cocktail renaissance when Martini-mania was in full swing. Incidentally, a creator of the drink remains unknown. An idea of switching dry vermouth with scotch seems fruitful and by far and large it is more palatable than a glass of icy gin. I use the recipe which I borrowed from the Dale DeGroff`s book The Craft of the Cocktail:
50 ml gin
10 ml scotch (Laphroaig Quarter Cask)
Stir all ingredients with a lot of ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
It is worth mentioning here that Laphroaig is not an expendable ingredient for Smoky Martini. The original recipe calls for blended scotch and you may use it.
I have tried the Smoky Martini with different gin and whisky. My first Smoky Martini was mixed with Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin and Laphroaig Quarter Cask. Wow! Really I was fascinated by the cocktail! The Smoky Martini has extraordinary dry and smoky taste. The entry is very smooth and oily. The palate is brilliant dry with a great explosion at the end. The finish had a lot of smoke, peat and a campfire smell. Actually the Smoky Martini is one of best variations of Dry Martini that I ever tasted.
5 February 2011 · 7 Comments
I have shaken off my unexpected ailment to be back to shaking cocktails again. My passion – Manhattan – took a two week holiday while I was being shaken by fever. Yet my new old infatuation with Manhattan found its way around and became the topic of our next S.I.P. Isn’t that great!
Well, now then, I am back to my Manhattan project in which I am exploring a very interesting idea – the use of exotic Italian liquor called amaro instead of trivial sweet vermouth. Amaro is a kind of strong herbal liquor made on the neutral spirit base. A composition of most Amaro drinks is rather complex. It includes dozens of different spices and herbs.
Some time ago I posted about my exhilarating experience with Amaro used as an ingredient in Fernet Cocktail. Actually, Fernet is the strongest variety of Amaro. Believe me, Fernet cocktail with rye whiskey makes quite a potion. The spiciness of rye on a par with the herbal strength of fernet makes magic.
Frankly speaking, what I really want to try next in my Manhattan is a certain kind of amaro –sweet and rich Amaro Felsina Ramazzotti. A quick web search is made which brings to me two lovely recipes. The former is an old MxMo post by Stevi Deter who describes the almost flawless Purosangue cocktail – an interesting concoction of Ridgemont Reserve 1792 bourbon with Amaro Ramazzotti. And the latter is nothing but Black Manhattan, the recipe of which was given in the “Washington Post”. It recommends to use Amaro Averna and rye as ingredients. However I would rather take Amaro Ramazzotti instead.
50 ml bourbon or rye whiskey
25 ml Amaro Ramazzotti
1 dash Angostura bitter
Stir all ingredients with a lot of ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
I have tried Black Manhattan with different kinds of whiskey – American bourbon whiskey (Jim Beam Black) and several Canadian whiskeys (unfortunately I am still constrained to use Canadian whisky instead of most authentic rye).I have got a perfect result with my new Canadian whisky – Black Velvet Reserve 8 y.o. This very smooth whisky with delicate rye spiciness works very well with sweet and herbal Amaro Ramazzotti. The use of bourbon also produces a good effect.
The Black Manhattan Cocktail is a thoroughbred Manhattan. It possesses a bitter-sweet taste with herbal and whiskey notes. It also has a long-lasting aftertaste too. It is awesome Manhattan with great look – the color of this Manhattan is almost black. With its black colour it is as elegant as Armani in his hey-day :)