Welcome to episode two of “Thirsty Thursday” with our resident Drink Doctor, Jamie Clayton. Former bar-keep, incredible photographer, decent drinker, and our go-to for all things Nashville, Jamie Clayton is a modern day renaissance man. We primed Jamie with a simple request, "give us the rundown on something even better than an Old-Fashioned." And without batting an eye he said, "Alright then, we're making Manhattans."
It seemed appropriate to us, since we live in Manhattan and all.
Guys, Sweet Vermouth. Let's talk about it.
If you're like most, you probably have some bottle that is a couple of months (years) old in your cabinet. And every so often you'll randomly you pull it out and add it to whiskey and call it a Manhattan.
Fighting it down, you either tell yourself you don't like Manhattans or that you need to learn to appreciate Whiskey more. But it's not you, it's the Sweet Vermouth.
First off — and most importantly — throw your bottle of vermouth away. Its bad. Sweet Vermouth is fortified wine. You and I both know wine goes bad after a few days. Well, this is the exact same situation. Spit out whatever shitty drink you tried making with your month old Martini Sweet Vermouth and lets start over.
As a rule of thumb, I like to keep Sweet Vermouth for 5 days and then toss it. Anything after that will effect the flavor.
Your new go-to drink
So, why are we talking about sweet vermouth again? Because you need to have a Manhattan in your drink arsenal. And considering Sweet V is 33% of the Manhattan, the other 2/3rds being Rye Whiskey, I'd say it's worth our attention.
Also, let me just say - Manhattans are AMAZING. I mean, they blow Old-Fashioneds out of the water. Hands down. Manhattans are currently my favorite cocktail. They are so easy to make and insanely good.
However — let's be clear — most bars carry shitty vermouth. Here is what you are looking for: Carpano Antica, the Grandfather of Vermouths, to this day the best Sweet Vermouth you can get. Want to know if it's worth ordering a Manhattan at a bar, here's a quick test you can use tonight.
(1) Go to the bar. (2) Ask the bartender if they have Carpano Antica. (3) If the bartender doesn't know what you mean when you just say the word “Carpano” then they will not make you a good cocktail (I'm sorry they won't, but man they will absolutely CRUSH a vodka cranberry). (4) If they do have Carpano Antica - order a Manhattan. Trust me.
"If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere..."
Now, if you're trying to make one I recommend you follow the simple recipe I used at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.
(1) Bitters — Angostura, if you can — and add two dashes.
(2) Sweet Vernouth — I'm a snob and I wont drink your cocktail unless your Sweet Vermouth is Antico Carpano — add 1 oz of the grandaddy of Sweet Vermouth ( or any fresh Sweet Vermouth).
(3) Whiskey — I use Elijah Craig 12 year and would advise you do the same — add 2 oz Rye Whiskey (Rye isn't necessary but, I prefer it ).
(4) Stir with ice and strain into a glass. Garnish with an orange zest (...if you have a Maraschino Cherry, add one. Not necessary, I just love them in Manhattans!)
Now, enjoy your beverage and I'll see you soon