Rule 37: Employees Only Manhattan
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.
It’s stupid cold this week.
So, I’ve been using Manhattans in place of turning up the thermostat.
It works quite well, actually. The Manhattan is a great cold-weather drink, a lovely aperitif, and makes some wonderfully deep winter slumbers, all snuggled up under the covers until the heat kicks on in the morning and toasts my room into a oven-like chamber of Hades. But for the chilly evenings, a little whiskey warmer has been my drink obsession for the past two weeks. Or three. Or one. I’m not sure. Its been kind of a blur. A happy warm fuzzy kind of blur.
The Manhattan is one of my most favoritest of cocktails (especially this version) and I really don’t want to stop the streak of awesomeness, so the Rule 37 for the week will be a Manhattan variation. It’s actually pretty different from the traditional recipe, so it totally counts. The name comes from renowned cocktail bar Employees Only in New York, who put their own spin on the classic drink.
I found this one on liquor.com, which is an excellent go-to for cocktail recipes and resources. With this one, you can view the recipe here, find it in their book here, and watch a video of cocktail guru Dushan Zaric make the drink for you:
- 1.5 oz rye whiskey (Rittenhouse)
- 1.75 oz sweet vermouth (Rosso)
- .5 oz Grand Marnier
- 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
It’s a Manhattan, so you better damn well stir it. Watch the video. Dushan stirs it. You’d better too. Make sure it’s COLD, and serve in a chilled cocktail glass. Seriously, it makes a difference. Garnish with a lemon twist (after squeezing the oils from the twist on the surface of the drink, rub it on the rim and drop into the glass).
I had to do some double-checking to make sure that ratio was correct. A standard Manhattan has more whiskey than vermouth (I like mine at a simple 2:1. Embury suggests a whopping 5:1) but this recipe changes that. The addition of Grand Marnier (a brandy-based orange liqueur) also makes for an interesting element, as does the lemon peel rather than traditional cherry garnish. The lemon oils even left a little oily rainbow sheen across the surface of the drink.
Nose: Sweet. Grapey dark vermouth, with some orange candy aroma. There’s a little spice in there from the Angostura, and a dark rye lurking beneath everything. There are upper and lower aromas: lilting and lifting up above there’s the orange fragrance, a little light lemon, and some cinnamon spices, while the syrupy grape vermouth essence oozes together with the whiskey in a cloying cinder block that will drag you down to the deep depths. It’s quite interesting. A lot going on here.
Taste: The nose had a lot going on, but the flavor is fantastically layered. Right away, it starts vermouthy: sticky grapes and syrup. The Angostura sneaks in right behind to start spicing things up with cinnamon, dark roasted wood, and pepper. While this is confusing your taste buds, the whiskey sloshes in, coming in a wave of bitter rye spice and alcohol warmth, which cuts down the cloying vermouth, and a lilt of citrus wafts above it all, not quite an accent, but more of a bystander who nods a friendly “hello” as you pass on the sidewalk. It’s almost as if the cinnamon-smoking driver of a vermouth truck slowly crashed into a low-pressure whiskey fire hydrant. Not enough for a full-on geyser, but enough to puncture the vermouth tank and mix it with a stream of rye. The driver flees the scene and drops his cinnamon into the concoction, while orange-and-lemon citrus observes from across the street, commenting “Well, I do say, that IS a right shame” and continuing on his way after a moment’s pause.
The after-finish lingers on as a tingly cinnamon syrup with a raisin-like fruit.
This one is quite interesting.
Though I do still prefer a more traditional recipe, this is a welcome change of course. It’s smoother from the added vermouth, and spicier, due to the liberal application of Angostura, Use a big rye with this one, as a weakling like Old Overholt or Jim Beam would be rolled over by the wave of vermouth and spice. The Rittenhouse worked quite well, not overpowering the drink, but matching the vermouth syruped intensity, despite being outnumbered. Orange notes from the Grand Marnier and a hint of lemon really do add wonders to the layered quality at work here. Do not omit either ingredient. I might go with two dashes of Angostura on the next one, just to see how it plays out, but the Trinidadian exotic is certainly welcome in this alcoholic amalgamation. And yes, with the Rittenhouse (100 proof) that warming glow sets in quite easily.
I will certainly have another. Or three.
Wake me up in springtime.