Through these adventures you will be introduced to the core set of classic cocktails and techniques. Many of the tools, ingredients and other resources described are available through our shopping links.
The first adventure, Tabula Rasa, introduced the Old Fashioned.
In the second, Waltz Time, we focused on the Martini.
Adventure #3: In Her Steam and Her Steel
Possibly the best cocktail in the world, but maybe we feel a little too much passion for the Manhattan. Give it a try, as it really should be made, and see what you think.
Ingredients: rye, sweet vermouth, aromatic bitters, lemon twist or cherry or flamed orange peel.
New techniques: Flaming Orange Peel, Batching Drinks.
- Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth (~$8)
- Luxardo Gourmet Maraschino Cherries (~$17, this may sound like a lot to pay for cherries but they are truly astonishingly good and there are a whole lot of them jammed into this jar; it’s worth every penny)
- A really good garnish knife (if you don’t already have a paring knife you love & can use very safely) Consider a Santoku style which is large enough to discourage you from dangerously cutting fruit in your hand and which has an edge design that makes it easier to start a cut on a firm curved surface like a lime.
- A couple very fresh oranges with a nice strong orange scent on the skin (indicating plenty of orange oils).
Find a safe small candle holder such as might be used in a bar or restaurant.
Get some toothpicks.
Light the candle & place it on your bar surface but a little bit out of your way, resting on a saucer with a bit of water in it.
Making the drink:
- Wash your hands.
- Rinse the lemon and the orange.
- Chill three glasses if you don’t have them already cold in the freezer.
- Set out the cutting mat, rye, sweet vermouth, orange bitters, lemon, cherries, orange, mixing container, jigger, barspoon, Hawthorn strainer, channel knife and garnish knife.
- Measure & add .5 oz x 3 = 1.5 oz sweet vermouth to the mixing container.
- Shake a dash (a “dash” means its okay if it’s several drops) of orange bitters into the mixing container. Do this twice more because you’re making three servings.
- Measure & add 1 oz x 3 = 3 oz rye.
- Stir with ice (remember to add more ice because your liquid level is higher in the mixing container).
- Strain evenly into the 3 chilled glasses. (Try to pour an ounce into each and then even them up in small pours as you dispense the rest of the liquid. Notice how the melt from the ice has increased the fluid beyond the added ingredients.)
- Move a glass somewhat away from the others so that the lemon oil doesn’t spray across them & add a small lemon twist.
- Move the second glass near the first and use your barspoon to gently drop one cherry from the jar into it.
- Take the orange and, holding on the cutting mat end up, use the garnish knife to slice off a stripe of the outer skin, about 1” wide and 2” long, trying not to squeeze it as you handle it.
- Light a toothpick in the candle (we recommend using toothpicks rather than matches in order to avoid the sulfur smell) and, holding the flame about 3” above & away from the drink, pick up the orange peel strip delicately (like an eggshell, as Dale DeGroff says) by the edges, angle it towards the drink about an inch further away from the drink than the flame and squeeze. The orange oils should be expressed, passing through the flame & igniting before falling onto the drink. Drop the toothpick in the water in the saucer and throw away the peel.
- Not to worry, this takes a little practice. Read the description from King Cocktail himself and try again if you didn’t get a nice burst the first time.
- Rinse your bar tools.
- Compare your drinks. We’d recommend the lemon twist version first, since you have had a rye drink with that garnish before (the Old Fashioned). Next the orange version, since it’s going to be closer in flavor to the lemon version. Lastly try the one with the cherry. Notice the impact of the different garnishes. Which works best for you with this rye, this vermouth, and these proportions?
You can make multiples of a drink at once. You have a new garnishing technique. Since you have oranges, you can try making orange twists with your channel knife and orange zests. With those and the cherries, your world of garnishes continues to expand. You now also have a new kind of vermouth. Compare half an ounce of each served in room temperature glasses (so you can really taste the differences). You’re learning to analyze your ingredients and to see where particular ones perform well or poorly in a given recipe.
Where you can go from here with these skills:
Try the three Manhattans again sometime using Angostura aromatic bitters instead of orange bitters.
Revisit the Martini concept using gin and sweet vermouth. 2:1 with Angostura bitters and a lemon twist is an Artillery or with an orange peel instead of the lemon it’s a Sunshine. 3:1 with no bitters and a lemon twist is a Blackstone. 2:1 with orange bitters is a Rex Cocktail. 1:1 with both aromatic and orange bitters is a Hearst Cocktail. 2:1 with Peychaud’s bitters (which you’d have to go buy since we didn’t already send you shopping for them) is a Hilliard Cocktail. 2:1:1 bringing in sweet AND dry vermouth with aromatic bitters is a Farmer’s Cocktail or with orange peel it becomes a Kup’s Indispensable or at 8:1:1 with the lemon twist again it’s a Perfect. 3:1:1 with 2 dashes of orange bitters and an orange peel is an R.C.A. Special Cocktail. 3:1:1 with a dash each of aromatic and orange bitters is a Wild Rose Cocktail.
As you can see gin + vermouth(s) + maybe some bitters + citrus peel garnish of some sort is the foundation of a panoply of cocktails (indeed, much of the Savoy Cocktail Book).
For vermouth variations using rye whiskey, try a Dry Manhattan, Perfect Manhattan, or a Jumbo.
You can also try some other recipes using these other new ingredients, with specific recommendations where we have them noted:
Honolulu or Rosemary or Brown University (buy some bourbon, say Four Roses (~$22) or Buffalo Trace or Bulleit (both ~$23))
One Of Mine Cocktail (squeeze some juice from one of those partially skinned oranges)
Smiler (also using some orange juice)
Martinez (buy Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur(~$28))
Move Over Cocktail (buy Cherry Heering (~$24))
Rob Roy (buy Dewar’s blended scotch, either White Label or 12 year & check the prices since the bottle twice the size might be only 25% more expensive (~$21-28))
Black Manhattan (buy Averna (~$29))