The word “perfect” can mean a number of different things and when it comes to cocktails, it seems like it’s bandied about fairly arbitrarily. That’s neither here nor there though, when it comes to a Perfect Manhattan, the recipe is old enough that it can’t really be questioned and I’m sure the reason behind the moniker is lost to time. A classic Manhattan calls for sweet vermouth, replace it with dry vermouth and it becomes… a dry Manhattan. If you combine equal parts sweet and dry vermouth, then it’s a Perfect Manhattan, here’s the full recipe:
- 2 oz Rye Whiskey [Rittenhouse]
- .50 oz Sweet Vermouth [Dolin]
- .50 oz Dry Vermouth [Dolin]
- 3 Dashes Bitters [Bar40 / Bar Lab]
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir for 20 – 30 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with your choice of cherry or citrus twist. For those that consider a traditional Manhattan a bit sweet, this may be a better option for you even with the most basic vermouth’s and bitters combinations.
Depending upon your vermouth and if you use Canadian or American rye, this cocktail can come off a bit sweet or fairly herbal. For the Perfect Manhattan I made above, the herbal notes of Dolin’s vermouth were very present and I wanted to round it out with some nice citrus / sour notes. I employed three dashes each of Bar Le Lab’s Bitter Lim’Tonik lime bitters and Bar40’s Sour Bitters which really helped round out this Manhattan and I dare say… made it perfect.
If you’re using a Canadian rye [which leans towards the sweeter side] maybe use just a touch more of the dry vermouth. Conversely, if you’re using a spicier American rye, perhaps add a bit more sweet vermouth. It’s up to you what makes a Manhattan perfect or not, the above is just a recipe and drinking it how you like it, is what counts.