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Friday, February 27, 2009

Manhattan Cocktail

My wife called from Williams Sonoma to ask if I had any Stirrings® Blood Orange Bitters.  I had to admit that I did not have any, and had never had any as far as I knew, so she brought home a bottle.  I was surprised to see that the Blood Orange bitters said “refrigerate after opening” while Angostura® bitters do not.  I discovered the difference, interestingly enough, is that the Angostura contain 40% alcohol while the Stirrings Blood Orange don’t contain any.  Next, I decided to check out the recipes they had on the bottle.  The Mighty Manhattan caught my eye, so I decided to give it a try later in the evening.  There is also a recipe for a Champagne Cocktail that I will have to experiment with the next time I’m doing champagne.  I tasted a few drops (this helps you to understand what an ingredient is contributing to the cocktail) and discovered a complex flavor with the requisite bitter finish, sweeter than other bitters, but with the blood orange flavor coming across well.  A bottle of Angostura bitters has a small spout on top, so that a “dash” is a drop or two.  Interestingly, the Blood Orange bitters don’t have one, so a dash of Blood Orange will be much larger than a dash of Angostura.

After dinner I was getting ready to watch Apocalypse Now Redux on cable and thinking about a cocktail, so I decided it was time to give The Mighty Manhattan a try.  I popped a cocktail glass into the freezer, and started digging around in my bar for the other ingredients, only to discover I was out of Rye.  (I need to improve my inventory process, but Rye is now on the shopping list.)  Fortunately, you can make a Manhattan with Bourbon (Rye is the traditional whiskey to use for the classic Manhattan) and Stirrings’ recipe even says “Rye or Bourbon,” so I decided to substitute Jim Beam® Black Label.  Their recipe also says “shake gently,” but I decide to draw the line at that.  Manhattans are traditionally stirred to avoid clouding the drink.  This does, however, make it more important to use a chilled glass.  I enjoyed sipping the Mighty Manhattan, the major drawback being that one doesn’t last long enough for a three hour plus movie. 

Recipes for the Mighty Manhattan and a classic Manhattan follow.  As usual, feel free to fiddle with the recipe to arrive at your own, perfect Manhattan, and be sure to write down your version for later use.  There are many more Manhattan recipes to use as starting points available on the web if these don’t work for you.


The Mighty Manhattan

2 oz Rye or Bourbon whiskey

½ oz sweet vermouth

dash Stirrings® Blood Orange bitters

Add the ingredients to a mixing glass half full of ice cubes.  Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a maraschino cherry.



2 oz Rye or Bourbon whiskey

½ oz sweet vermouth

2 dashes Angostura® bitters

Add the ingredients to a mixing glass half full of ice cubes and stir.  Rub the cut edge of an orange peel around the lip of the chilled cocktail glass.  Strain the drink into the glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.  If you would like to try a Dry Manhattan, substitute a dash of dry vermouth, leave out the bitters, and garnish with a lemon twist.



  1. Nice play on words for the "perfect" Manhattan.

    The Manhattan has been my poison of choice for years. Now it's even legal to make a pretty much full strength "perfect" Manhattan legally in Utah. That's if you can find a bar with Rye. Otherwise I'm stuck with high Rye Whiskys like Bulleit.

    Like you, I've found playing with bitters is a good exercise. Sometimes either the Fee Bros. Orange bitters or Angostura Orange bitters is a good way to go. However, I've found using a splash of both regular Angostura bitters and Peychauld's bitters along with both the sweet and dry Vermouth used in a "Perfect" Manhattan is the way to go.
    I've also been mail ordering cherries from "City of Cherries" Oregon. I'll have to make the splurge and get the Luxardo ones to try. Certainly their Maraschino Liquor is very good.

  2. The Manhattan is one of my favorites, too. Lately I've been using Bulleit Frontier Bourbon at home. For Rye, the Oyster Bar at Market Street Cottonwood stocks both High West and Jim Beam Ryes. (I think the Foothill store is the only state store that stocks JB, but phone ahead. It's a good value.)

    I will have to try your spin on the Manhattan, mixing the Angostura bitters and Peychauld's bitters, plus the two vermouths, sounds really good.

    A couple of months ago, Amazon had lots of different types of cherries, but when I was running low on Luxardo, I checked and couldn't find any other brand despite several different searches. Let me know how the Luxardo compares to the "City..", if you think the City is better I will have to give them a try.