The Manhattan Project
Posted: May 1, 2000
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But why would one eschew the cherry to begin with? Well, you might be on strict orders from your dermatologist to avoid sweets or you might be trying out the Atkin's Diet. The direction we suggest is toward tart fruit, but we don't deign to create rules for Manhattan garnishes.
We will countenance no discussion, however, as regards the manner of mixing. The Manhattan must be shook, never stirred. Be it silver or steel or pewter, shaped like a bullet, a bird or an airplane, the cocktail shaker should be metal and capable of creating a clatter -- for this is a concoction that must announce its coming. Use generous portions of ice and shake the stuffing out of the drink. Wrap the shaker in a towel if you can't stand the cold, but shake for at least 20 seconds (we've heard of zealots going as long as two minutes, but that may be excessive). The point is to create crystals of cocktails that hang in the drink like frigid gems and suggest just how precious and ephemeral is the little oasis of time known as the cocktail hour. Serve in the classic long-stemmed, funnel-shaped container that we forbid you to call a Martini glass.
That said, there are those who would order their Manhattans on the rocks in an Old-Fashioned glass. Nothing is so much wrong with this, as certainly the drink is palatable and will tend to stay chilled longer, but can't we all agree that this philistine approach might be better termed a New Rochelle or a Yonkers, anything but a Manhattan. It just is not magical.
It was with this idea of magic in mind that one recent Saturday afternoon a group of Cigar Aficionado editors embarked on what we refer to as our Manhattan Project, mixing cocktails with a spectrum of different whiskeys and trying to remain capable of recording tasting notes. There were also cigars, and, yes, mistakes were made.
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