With April’s “Drink of Shame” theme just past, maybe its time to do a 180° and go with something more elegant and proud. Perhaps focus in on previous themes of the Old Fashioned and the Martini that have stood the test of time and do not garner you a look of scorn at a good cocktail Mecca. And maybe bringing back a touch of MxMo “Tom Waits” to the party could not hurt. Perhaps introducing our host for MxMo this month, myself — Frederic of the CocktailVirgin blog, might make this idea better understood.
This month’s theme slated for May 18th is one that will get you considering late 19th century-rooted drinks and their variations with “I’ll Take Manhattan!” Please read my full announcement post, but here is a brief description:
Turning to David Wondrich’s Imbibe! for some historical reference, he bandied back and forth about possible creators and locales for this classic’s creation. Perhaps it was created many places and many times, for sweet vermouth was the new hot ingredient of the 1870s and 1880s as St. Germain was in 2007 and 2008 (and arguably even to today). Wondrich quoted from the anonymously penned 1898 Cocktails: How To Make Them, “The addition of Vermouth was the first move toward the blending of cocktails.” In my mind, the Manhattan takes the Old Fashioned one step further. Not only does it replace the sugar with sweet vermouth, but this sweetener ties its herbal notes to those of the bitters and its spice notes to the barrel-aged whiskey (especially rye whiskey) as well as the bitters again. Furthermore, the addition of a hint of fruit and caramel flavoring is a welcome addition to the mix (I will not directly draw any link to the vermouth’s fruit and the cherry garnish though). While there have been a variety of Manhattan variations through the years such as the Preakness and the Brooklyn, most of the twentieth century saw this drink unchanged, in theory that is… However, the last decade or so has seen a renewal in the drink begin made correctly. Moreover, I would point to New York City cerca 2005 as the re-birth of the Manhattan variation with drinks like the Red Hook being born. For this theme, actuate it any way you’d like as long as the drink resembles a Manhattan. Want to take 19th century Manhattan recipes or variations to the test? …Or perhaps subbing out the whiskey or vermouth for another ingredient or adding in a liqueur or other modifier or so to the mix? Awesome, you’re right on track! There are plenty of Manhattan and Manhattan variations out there in the literature, and there’s plenty of room to explore and tinker if that’s your thing, too.
The theme has its merit for at a minimalist idea, you could just make your best Manhattan, sit back in a leather chair, and espouse on its merits both philosophically and flavorwise. Or you could delve into the cocktail book library and find some gems of what Manhattans were interpreted as and what riffs came to be. Or you could turn to your liquor cabinets and figure out what combination has yet to be tried! Spirit, herbal sweetener, and bitters can all be varied and new play pals can be added. Briefly, here’s how to participate:
- Find or create a recipe for a cocktail that is Manhattan in feel and form, then post the recipe, and include a photo and your remarks, on your blog, tumblr, or website. If you lack one of those, feel free to post on eGullet’s Spirits and Cocktails forum.
- Include the MxMo logo in your post plus links back to the Mixology Monday and CocktailVirgin sites. Once the roundup post is put up, updating your post to include a link to that one as well would be appreciated.
- Let Fred know about your post by Monday night, May 18th by posting a link to your post in the comment section on his post, writing him at yarm-at-verizon-dot-net with “MxMo” in the subject, or by tweeting at him via @cocktailvirgin.
That gives you about two weeks to start contemplating where this drink came from and where this drink is going. And by going, I mean by variation or merely into your belly. I can’t wait to see what classy libations the blogosphere can conjure up!