My cousin Patrick is passionate about Manhattans, although when visiting him and his wife Ruth I might join them in a Manhattan, it was not ,my favorite. It was way too sweet for me, my preference in the cocktail world being – way dry, (martini), way tart (homemade margarita lots of fresh lime juice).
When I met Paul in San Francisco and we decided to stop for a drink at the Pied Piper at the Palace Hotel, we looked at the menu with many classic cocktails. They had a Classic Manhattan and a Perfect Manhattan on the menu. I almost just ordered the same drink I usually have there, a Martini made with Plymouth Gin and Dolin Dry Vermouth very cold, straight up with two olives. But I was curious about the two different Manhattans.
The bartender was happy to explain what the difference is. The classic is indeed sweeter. The classic drink uses all sweet vermouth in a ratio of 2 ounces of rye to 1 ounce of sweet vermouth and a splash of bitters. Often a maraschino cherry is added as a garnish, making the drink sweeter still. The Perfect Manhattan uses 2 ounces rye whiskey to 1/2 ounce of sweet vermouth and 1/2 of dry vermouth, often a lemon twist is used as garnish.
As we chatted the bartender knew what my preferences were and suggested that I might want to taste something he had named An Even More Perfect Manhattan. He made one for Paul and me to taste, no commitment. It was really great – 2 ounces of Woodford Reserve Bourbon, 1/4 ounce Dolin Dry Vermouth, 1/4 ounce Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth with 2 splashes of bitters. The garnish in this drink was a this strip of orange peel.
WOW, we ordered one for each of us.