Welcome to the 1000th recipe on smittenkitchen.com. One. Thou. Sandth. Didn’t I just start this thing? Wasn’t it only supposed to last six months? How did we let things get so out of hand? Wait, do I finally have an answer to the ever-present question “What do you do all day?” that’s not “Read The Awl and try to figure out what it means that most of my life goals look like this?” Hm, probably not.
Instead I’d like to talk about the Perfect Manhattan, which, to me, is currently the most glaring oversight — yes, yes, except the Russian Napoleon and/or Coconut Cream Pie [update: there she is!], I got your email and they’re going to happen this winter or you should definitely fire me already — in the archives right now.
It’s my suddenly-cooler-outside favorite cocktail, introduced to me by
this guy I met at a bar my husband shortly after we began dating. I, in turn, introduced him to this Austrian restaurant I had a thing for in the West Village and while waiting for a table 12 years ago, we ordered a Manhattan and the bartender asked if we’d like it “perfect.” ‘No, I’d like it flawed?’ I thought, because I wasn’t then and am now not as funny as I’d like to think. But he explained to us that a classic Manhattan was made with sweet vermouth and a perfect Manhattan is made with part sweet and part dry vermouth and we said “sure why not” and there’s never been another Manhattan for us since. It’s not sweet but balanced. You take a sip and it surprises you, you have to shut up and pause the constant churning in your brain for a moment. And as quickly as we became obsessed, it began to feel as elusive as, well, anything self-described as ideal should be.
There was the fact that for at least 6 years, we never found another bartender who knew how to make it without instruction, which made us those terrible people at the bar telling the bartender how to do his/her job. (Thank you, whiskey trend, for fixing this great problem of our time.) There have been the endless, unforgivable variations on Manhattans we’ve politely endured (the Bronx! the… No.)* instead because nobody can leave a good thing alone. There are memories, like the night my cookbook came out, the launch party understandably cancelled as Hurricane Sandy skittered along the coast of NYC; we saw an explosion over in the direction of the ConEd plant, the lights went off and we decided to not be freaked out and made Manhattans by flashlight. And there was the time that I arrived at Labor & Delivery with a stack of magazines because I heard that inductions could be a little dull until they are suddenly the very opposite of dull and wearily cracked open Martha Stewart Living only to be taunted with this picture, as if there was a contest for “what is the very opposite of your life right now?” and this was the winning entry. I can still feel the longing.
In a way, it mimics our weird messy relationship with Manhattan itself, a place we’ve been talking about leaving almost since we arrived. This is where you say, “I thought you lived in Brooklyn,” and of course you did, we have children, we eat kale, we have every Gerald and Piggy book, our people are across the river. Every year we decide to move and every year, we never do and it’s almost like we haven’t realized we rather like it here, here being the place where I almost never have a subway card because pretty much everything is walkable and I have a perfect grocery store a block away and the best Greenmarket in the country four blocks beyond that, right downstairs from my late grandfather’s one-time dental office (and from what we hear, the source of this ginger’s ginger), 56 blocks down from my parents’ first apartment, five blocks from mine and good god, maybe this is just our home, you know? Maybe it doesn’t have to be perfect, just perfect for us.
But this wasn’t supposed to be about interborough unrest, it’s supposed to be about what it means that this site now boasts 1000 recipes. It means, I fear, we have at least another thousand to go. So, what should we cook next?
* Although I am keenly interested in the actual traditional cocktails named after the other four boroughs. Perhaps this should be our next course of “study.”
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The Perfect Manhattan
I’ve always been a little suspicious of the stories that surround old recipes; they often read too orchestrated, too twee — “the pie was dropped on the floor and voila! A tarte tatin was born!” etc. — to ring authentic. The Manhattan cocktail is no different. One disputed theory holds that the drink originated at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the 1870s, where it was created for a banquet that involved everyone from Winton Churchill’s mom to a failed presidential candidate that was so successful, everyone wanted the drink too. Another, also disputed, argues that it was invented by a bartender named Black in the 1860s. I’m far more enchanted to have read about a North Frisian island named Föhr where the Manhattan cocktail is said to be popular — apparently many people there immigrated to Manhattan and back again at one point, taking the drink with them — mostly because they apparently make it just the way we like it: a little dry. Is it true? As my research has been inconclusive, as soon as I hit publish on this post, I’m going to get on my boat and find out.
Makes 1 drink
2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth, usually red
1/2 ounce dry vermouth, usually white
2 dashes angostura, peychauds or orange bitters
Maraschino cherry (traditional) or small piece lemon peel for garnish
Add rye, vermouths and bitters to a cocktail shaker with ice and stir (if you want to be uber-traditional about it) or shake them together. Strain ice as you pour into a rocks or martini glass, or pour ice and drink into a tumbler. Garnish and enjoy slowly because this is bonkers potent.
Rye vs. bourbon and other whiskeys from a non-expert, i.e. corrections welcome: American rye whiskey must be distilled from at least 51% rye, but rye does not, by definition, have to be made in America. Canada produces a lot of rye whiskey, but by their own regulations. Bourbon must be distilled from at least 51% corn. It must be made in America and is most often made in Kentucky. Tennessee whiskey, basically bourbon whiskey from Tennessee, uses something called the Lincoln County Process in which whiskey, after it is distilled, is filtered through sugar-maple charcoal, making it amazing. American rye tends to be more dry and spicy than bourbon, which is fuller in body with a vanilla/caramel vibe. Rye is more traditional in the Manhattan cocktail, largely because Manhattan was a rye town when the drink was hatched in the late 1800s. How did I do?
Angostura vs. peychauds vs. orange bitters: Angostura, traditional for the Manhattan, is made from a secret recipe, and is quite aromatic. Peychauds, slightly spicier and more sweet, is a great second choice (and what I used instead). Orange bitters are not traditional, but I think taste great in an Manhattan, although giving it more of an old-fashioned vibe.
206 comments on the perfect manhattan
Congrats – And I toast you with a(nother) Perfect Manhattan ~!
Letting things get out of hand is fun, and that sense of fun is what’s kept me coming back for all this time. Congrats, Deb, and I hope you’re still going strong one thousand recipes from now.
Manhattan Chic. You are one classy dame. –1000 times over.
Ahhh Deb, you are the best. Thank you for writing the very opposite of a Goodbye to All That essay — what a beautiful paean to NYC.
First, wow! Congrats in 1000. As my people would say, to a hundred and twenty! In your case would it be 1200?
I didn’t realize Elephant was named Gerald. I’ve been going around calling him “Elephant.” As in, gosh Lilli, do you think we could read another Elephant and Piggie book besides Should I Share My Ice Cream?
I took one of those million internet tests floating around Facebook about what NYC neighborhood I should live in. I took it a few times to see if I could come up with a different answer, but no, Park Slope, every time. Which mortified me some how. I’ve only lived in Harlem, played bar trivia in Williasmburg. But Park Slope? Man, oh man, what a cliche I’ve become.
Isn’t it exciting to drink whatever tickles your fancy? I’m all about g&t’s — Hendricks if you’re asking. Cheers!
My favorite drink (and also, I think, a great title for a book or movie). However, it’s “Angostura” bitters — typo at the end of the article.
Congrats!!!! To many more!
Congratulations Deb! And what a great recipe to celebrate 100 with!
A perfect Manhattan to celebrate a perfect thousand and your perfectly adorable children (seriously, a frame-worthy photo). Cheers to you and our favorite cocktail – here’s to the next thousand!
Congrats on 1k! Looking forward to another 1,000 deliciously awesome recipes!
Perfect Manhattans are my dad’s favorite drink and he makes them just right. I think he would debate some of the ingredients with you, as in his opinion there is only one right way to make a Perfect Manhattan (or else it isn’t a Perfect Manhattan – it’s a different drink) and it doesn’t include bourbon or maraschino cherries. (Just lemon.) But based on your own trials searching for a true Perfect Manhattan, I think you’d understand.
Congrats on 1000! What a way to celebrate. Manhattans are my father-in-law’s personal favorite cocktail – I will pass this on. It looks delicious – and I so wish I weren’t 25 weeks preggo…
I really believe the apple cider caramels are at the top of the list because of how many times I’ve looked it up to make them. And every time I lower the butter and cream and them become more toffee and less caramel….
Wow! 1000! Time to celebrate.
We use frozen dark cherries instead of the maraschino cherries, more natural (no icky chemicals) and it keeps the drink cold for a bit longer…Of course Luxardo cherries are delightful as well.
Congrats on reaching such a large number!! ;)
Congratulations on the milestone! No alcohol for me anymore, alas (but today’s ginger more than makes up for that). So I toast you now with my breakfast smoothie and at lunch will raise a fork to you from my bowl of your dynamite broccoli slaw.
Congrats on 1000!! And if you want suggestions for where to go next, I would absolutely love a perfect recipe for Pastitsio. I dream about it, especially now since fall has begun and winter seems imminent.
Again, congrats and thank you! Also, now that were maybe just over a year away from Cookbook the sequel…. any updates?
Yes! I’ve always gone for the Perfect Manhattan. Traditional ones are too cloying.
Oh wow, congrats!!!! Such an exciting day that I’m almost willing to forgive how long you’ve held out on us on this one. I’ve always thought Manhattans were too sweet but I have a feeling that’s all about to change…
Just when I think I can’t love you and this site any more, you go and post my favorite drink.
Cheers to that.
Wow, 1000 recipes? That’s a lot of testing and cooking. I’ve probably made most of them, some many times, over the years. But, this won’t be one of them. I learned (painfully, embarrassingly) early in my adult beverage life, that I shouldn’t drink anything brown. I haven’t since.
I made my own cherry vanilla bitters once. Made a BOMB Manhattan. :)
Congrats, Deb! Now the question: ARE THERE ANY OTHER FOODS TO MAKE?? I’m sure, of course, the answer is, indubitably, yes :)
Congratulations! Your site has been my favorite for years – and now you include my favorite cocktail! I recently made wild cherry bitters and orange bitters. You should take a look at some homemade bitter recipes; they’re pretty simple.
Congrats! and thank you for the great recipes. Looking forward to the next 1,000.
Can’t wait to try this recipe! Congratulations on your 1,000th post!
Congratulations on 1,000. Cheers to 1,000 more!
Congrats on your 1000th post! It’s always such a treat when I see you have a new recipe up! I have a hard time straying from wine (and when I do, it’s usually with vodka sodas, so boring!) but manhattans are so much more sophisticated – I’ve been saying I need to develop a palate for them for awhile now. This will be the drink to get me there, I’m sure. Re: coconut cream pie (I’ve read probably every single SK post but have never commented, but apparently I feel strongly about coconut cream pie!). I’m sure you have plenty of inspiration already, but if you’re looking for more: Tom Douglas’s is famous in Seattle and for very good reason. http://tomdouglas.com/blog/2012/01/tell-us-your-coconut-cream-pie-story/
(I couldn’t find an “official” link to the recipe but I think this one is directly from the cookbook: http://awhiskandaspoon.com/2014/02/08/dahlia-triple-coconut-cream-pie/). I had the pleasure of meeting you and Alex briefly at Book Larder in Seattle three years ago for your first book tour, I’ll bring you a pie at the next one if you haven’t had it by then! Thank you for all the years of inspiration :)
Thanks, Deb, for all the great recipes and fun posts. I hope you have 1000 more in you. I have tossed out most of my cookbooks except yours (autographed, of course!) and every recipe I’ve made was an instant hit. I’ll be toasting you tonight with a Perfect Manhattan.
Thank you for being the best curator/creator of recipes, Deb! Now go enjoy ALL of those Luxardo cherries. Yes.
I don’t know anything about cocktails, but the Föhr story is true! It’s part of the local folklore, though I don’t know how they make it.
CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I am thrilled for you. You have changed my cooking and baking life for the better, and for that, I am forever grateful (and so are my family and friends!). Best wishes for 1000 more!
Congrats! Your blog is always such a joy to read and cook from. May there be thousands more…
Thanks a bunch. Now I NEED to go and get some sweet vermouth (red?). Luckily I’ve got all of the rest of the ingredients. I’m on a rye binge, and trying everything. Currently I’ve got a bottle of Ryemegeddon, which is made with malted rye and chocolate rye (who knew?) giving it a slight note of…chocolate. Pretty good stuff, but still not Whistle Pig. http://www.corsairartisan.com/ryemageddon.html
“We eat kale…our people are across the river.” Hysterical. (I can remember when, from a Manhattan perspective, there was nothing across the river. And I am still amazed you do all the cooking you do in a Manhattan apartment kitchen. Your pictures look brownstone.) Thanks for the recipe–it looks good–and props for giving rye priority. It makes such a difference. (Have you noticed there’s now a thing for small-batch American vodka from corn? I don’t know why, but even though cake-flavor vodka is a thing, so all bets should be off, corn vodka still feels wrong to me. Oh, well, not my world anymore.)
Congratulations. And more importantly, thank you. You’ve been feeding my family since mid-2009 and I’m eternally grateful. Perhaps this weekend we’ll toast you with Manhattans of our own. (On a semi-related note – you should check out the Maple Bourbon Smash recipe on the Wm-Sonoma site. It has your name written all over it.)
What a milestone! Every recipe I have used has been wonderful. Here’s to 1000 more!
(My favorite sweet is the brownie mosaic cheesecake and my favorite savory is the butternut squash and caramelized onion galette.)
Hi Deb, have you read E.B. White’s essay, “Here is New York?” If not, please do so when you have a spare moment. (I realize they are ridiculously few and far between with two kids! But the essay is worth it, I promise.) Congratulations on the 1000th recipe. I am looking forward to the next 1000, especially the Russian Napoleon and coconut cream pie. :-). Many thanks and best wishes to you!!!
Your retro metal ice tray is the most adorable thing in the history of ever. I just flashed back to my BaBa’s house in…..about….1972. Thank you!
Congratulations Deb! 1000 of anything is amazing and that you’re shared 1000 recipes with us is all the better. Like SallyT (#32), your recipes have changed the way I cook and bake and I’m so very grateful. Here’s to (at least) 1000 more. Tchin Tchin!
I’m an Old-Fashioned girl myself, but am intrigued. Just have to suggest a cherry change: have you tried Griottines? They are seriously addicting, and have turned this preserved-cherry-hater into a Griottine lover. I had tried, and disliked, marachino, Amarena, Luxardo, and was ready to give up, the I tried Griottines. They are available at Amazon; do yourself a favor and order the big jar. Sooooooooo worth it. Congrats on the 1000th!
Trying this out asap! Love Manhattans. Didn’t know the difference between a classic and perfect one.
Congrats Deb!! This does sound like a perfect fall drink! I must say that your little ginger is absolutely darling. That is just the sweetest picture of her and Jacob together.
Tanti auguri, Deb! I don’t know what I would do without your website and cookbook, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be half as good. Just out of curiosity since I’m a big nerd, how did you come up with the “most popular” lists above? Most visited? Shared? Commented on? Anyway, thanks for your inspiration and your stories – they’re the best part of eating lunch at my desk! :)
I LOVE your website so much and use it almost daily for recipes, ideas and just as a “pick me up” because your writing is so entertaining and cheerful. Thank you for all that you do!
And apparently I’ve been missing out on the most popular entries. What about your amazing chocolate cake with the cocoa powder I’ve made a bunch of times or your salted caramel brownies or brown butter crispy treats???
Finally you’ve introduced me to David Lebowitz, Yotam Ottolengthi, Dori Greenspan and all sorts of other blogs, cookbooks, and personalities that if they have your seal of approval then they are in with me!
Thanks again! Keep up the great work!
Wow, I’ve barely tapped all of your recipe options, but man, most of my fav things I cook are from here. Thanks for doing what you do!
what is your perfect grocery store?? i live a few blocks away from the union square greenmarket so am curious :) i also especially love your apple cider caramels and your salted caramel brownies!
Huh. I’ve made half of the sweet recipes listed but only one of the savories (I’m looking at you, Buttermilk Roast Chicken!). I use your site (and book) almost exclusively when we have dinner parties and when I am baking, but I see I have some work to do. Congratulations on 1000!
Wow, you’re the first person I’ve ever found who likes Manhattans made similar the way I like them. I gave up ordering these at bars and just make them at home.
My husband Jeremy is an amateur bartender. I’m passing this on immediately. these photographs are so lovely – they all are – but especially these. Non-sequiter. Every time I complain about cooking for a family of 4 in my tiny galley style NYC kitchen, and i complain A LOT and am on the verge of tears – i feel ashamed. I think of you in your tiny kitchen AND you have this blog. I’m going to have to search your website for stuff about making it work in a tiny space. my whining is annoying even me.
First, thank you for all the good cheer. This would be no fun without you. (Besides, I already talk to myself too much.)
Christina — We went by comment counts, and I weeded out announcements (book tours, new baby, etc.) that were tied to recipes as they tend to have higher comment counts but not because of the recipe.
RobynB — No, but I’ll check them out.
Jennifer — I have a bound copy, of course. I love it. We should all write so well.
TinaD — I have. I think it’s because we have too much corn. That said, vodka is by definition colorless and flavorless so it probably doesn’t much matter what it’s made from — and of course, it was made from potatoes in countries with a strong supply of them!
Sonja — I’m on my boat already! Do you actually live in Föhr? I was so hoping someone would come out of the woodwork, but it’s probably a longshot. I have many questions!
Liz, re cookbook update — I owe you one! Sadly, it’s no longer on schedule because babies, man. They ruin everything. :)
Carolyn — Thanks, now fixed.
Molly — Should I Share My Ice Cream? was Jacob’s favorite for a very long time. To be honest, he’s past the G&P books now but I can’t resist preordering when Amazon tells me there’s a new one coming — at least he reads them to his sister now (aww).
Nzle — :) Thank you. To be honest, if I ever wrote one it would be more like this. (Sorry.) (Nah.)
Karen — My current kitchen of the last year+ isn’t as horribly tiny as the old one. And I totally complain about it (inwardly) but I like living in NYC more than I want a bigger one — and I’m never going to be a millionaire — so…
Deb! You are killing me. I know you already had your baby and all, but mine’s still got a month left on the baking time. Manhattans have always been a favorite of mine, but I never even knew about the classic vs. perfect distinction — I had always made them in the classic style. Your “perfect” version just made my list of guilty pleasures to require my husband to bring me postpartum.
My hubby’s favorite cocktail, except he uses Southern Comfort. Sorry, to me it tastes like medicine! Congrats on 1,000 recipes. Am looking forward to 1,000,000!
Finding this blog a couple years ago changed my cooking life! You’re amazing, and your recipes never dissapoint. Thanks you and congrats on 1000 Deb!
Congratulations on #1,000!!! This is perfect timing…my Dad and I were just discussing Manhattans last night over dinner. We were explaining the drink to my Mom who is not a whiskey/bourbon drinker. I’m definitely going to have to try this perfect version!!
the end of this was soooooooooooo Carry Bradshaw in the best of ways! Salute!
Awesome Deb! I’ve been a perfect Manhattan drinker for many yeas and was one of those horribly annoying customers who had to instruct because the cocktail art was lost!! “Taste this…” I would say to my companions and new Manhattan drinkers were born. This made my day! #1KCongrats !!!
Are you me? I joked throughout my pregnancy that I was going to pack Manhattan ingredients in my hospital bag and have my husband make me one before he cut the cord.
Hi – I read this all the time… and love it. Recipes are good – but can be found anywhere.. but the fun writing around the recipe is what I come for. I noted that you commented today about an Austrian restaurant that you recommended to your husband way back when…and I thought – I’m coming to NYC next weekend and I desperately want a great local restaurant to go to with friends flying in to meet us. And its impossible to get a good recommendation that you trust and isn’t someplace I could find by googling good NYC restaurants. Any suggestions? Pre-theatre?
As a girl of the South I have never tried rye, but I love a bourbon Manhattan. Thought I invented using 2 Vermouths. I always have dry on hand and splashed it some to cut the sweetness of my drink. Also have dashed both bitters. (Only add cherry when feeling festive). Glad to know the “perfect” name. Also like it on the rocks.
Love your blog. Congrats on the 1000th!
Cheers, Deb! Glad you can enjoy a drink for number 1,000! (If you’re looking for an outstanding cocktail named after one of those other boroughs, may I offer the Brooklyn.)
All in our family drink no alcohol, but I still must comment to say that I have been enjoying your blog since the beginning (and I think, now that I know you are celebrating 1000 recipes, that I will go back and read them again from the start!). I have used many recipes from your blog and cookbook and have rarely had a failure. Normally, if something is off, those that comment make sure we all know! Most of your recipes are just excellent. These days, I pretty much only cook with your blog, cookbook or Cook’s Illustrated/Cook’s Country. Especially if we have our vegetarian son over, we use your recipes and I don’t worry. They will be good. Happy 1000 recipes and onward and upward. Looking forward to your new cookbook, of course, better late than never.
First off, congrats on 1000 recipes! Your blog is mouth-wateringly divine!
I also haven’t seen anyone else mention it, so as a Wisconsinite I feel I have a duty to mention the brandy Manhattan (which in my understanding is one of those crazy Wisconsin things). This is the like THE drink of my family (although I’m much more of gin & tonic girl myself). I’m curious if this ever came up in your Manhattan samplings, or if it’s just a complete abomination :)
The perfect Southern Comfort Manhattan is a must! With a lemon twist!
we love Dolin’s vermouth Blanc. Check it out — sweet but not as sweet as sweet vermouth, fruity and balanced. By itself it makes a perfect perfect Manhattan (although I prefer a 3:1 ratio). Bravo on 1,000!
Congratulations on 1000 recipes. I have very much enjoyed them!
Not traditional but tasty: May I submit for your consideration Griottines – brandied French cherries? They really complete my Manhattan. (I am afraid of typical American Maraschino cherries for their preservatives).
Also have been using a rather sensational Italian vermouth by Giuseppe B. Carpano – called, I think, Carpano Antica Formula. Delicious by itself.
Deb! Pretty much all of my frequently-used, food-spattered recipes are printed out from here. Also my friends and I talk about you like we’re all pals on a first-name basis. I totally trust pretty much everything you say (though not in a freaky cultish way) and I look forward to the next 1000 recipes! Also, I’m going to make this tonight. Thank you thank you thank you!
Woo 1000! So many of your posts have become reliable favorites, some after opening my eyes to new ingredients or challenging me to build new skills.
Here’s to one thousand more!
(And here’s hoping vegetarian pot pie is one of those thousand.)
Thanks for all the great recipes Deb. We especially love our Manhattans paired with sweet chili pistachios. We’ve also been obsessed with a Manhattan-variation the Red Hook which uses Punt Y Mas. Yum.
Congratulations on this momentous milestone, I’ve been with you for most of it, end of year 2 I think, and have enjoyed making so very many of your recipes. My DH thanks you for keeping me inspired and cooking and baking him great meals. Slainte
I have loved this blog for so long (I made my in laws anniversary cake based on your 2008 wedding cake today!) and my husband is now a fan because Manhattans are his favorite!!! Congratulations on 1000 recipes.
Holy smokes you make adorable babies.
And a 1000! Congratulations! I’ve been reading for 8 years? Nine? A long time. well done!
This is a wonderful milestone for you.So pleased that your shining light has allowed us all to benefit from it.You are a gem in the true sense of the word. We are all blessed to have found and followed this blog. Your blessings include Jacob and Anna in that fabulous photo.Both with dimples showing on the upside cheek, both with fingers in mouth, and both absolutely radiating love for one another.That is one to be cherished forever. Sometimes you just get lucky with a camera. This is one of those. I got all teary-eyed, there is such emotion in that shot! Thank you for sharing your life and talents with us.
I’m with Liz above – another month of pregnancy to go and this looks so good! I love simple bourbon cocktails.
I’ve never had a Manhattan. I think it’s time to rectify that . I have all the ingredients, so I have no excuse not to rush out into the kitchen right now and make myself one. I think that’s a grand idea. I’ll toast to you and your family. Thank you for 1000 brilliant posts. I look forward to reading these.
I don’t drink alcohol at all, but this recipe made me happy because my grandfather always drank a Manhattan and the memory made me smile.
Also the picture of your kids is adorable. I love that sibling vibe.
A thousand mazel tovs – and more! – for reaching your one thousandth post! The perfect manhattan was a most ideal choice :) Much love to you, your hubby, and your beautiful children!
I was moved to commen on 3 counts:
1. OMG, those babies of yours! I know the poor older kid can get shunted aside in the presence of such new cuteness, and as the older sister of a much-commented-on redhead, I feel for Jacob. (But, oh, Anna!)
2. Congratulations on 1000 recipes! Just this week I discovered your old, pre-Kitchen blog and I feel like I’ve got such a fuller picture of you.
3. My own Manhattan memory: when I was quite little–probably younger than 10–my parents would have me make cocktails for them every day, and a frequent order was a regular Manhattan for my mother, and a perfect version for my father (this was in the late 60s), in the colder weather, of course. G & Ts in the summer. Apparently I was quite a good bartender.
Again, mazel tov on a very impressive milestone!
The traditional Manhattan is stirred, never shaken. Shaking introduces air into the drink, which shows up as a bit of frothiness or bubbles.
I still want to know what a “dash” of bitters amounts to because bitters affects the taste of cocktails quite a bit.
Congratulations on 1,000!!! I have loved this site from before it was truly just cooking. I recommend it to everyone. The recipes have been exquisite. I make one of your cakes for my daughters’ birthdays each year.
I saw you speak in a Beverly Hills sur la table but couldn’t stand to wait in line for autographs with my then infant daughter.
This question comes from my husband. I will be sitting nearby sipping wine.
Why do you use both sweet and dry bitters? I was under the assumption it was always just sweet.
Heartiest congratulations on 1000! Since I discovered your site sometime in 2007 it has been a go to for delicious, fool-proof recipes! As has your book! Here’s to 1000 more!
And you can be sure I’m giving you a manhattan cheers. :) My husband and I both saw this recipe and an immediate trip to the liquor store was warranted. We recently moved so haven’t yet replaced our vermouth and bitter. I now have one of these on the coffee table, and it is the best manhattan we’ve ever made! We now may be those people at the bar being very specific about our manhattan order. ;)
Unlike many, I will always have fond memories of post-Hurricane Sandy New York, as it was my first visit to the city. I was BEYOND ECSTATIC to learn that your book launch and been delayed and I would be able to meet you in person. I will never forget how William-Sonoma underestimated your popularity and I had to fight to meet you and get you to autograph your cookbook, despite being the first to arrive at the store and standing in wait for HOURS. It was worth it!!!
“No, I’d like it flawed”…love this!! and Smitten Kitchen.
Congratulations and happy one thousand! Manhattans are one of my favorite cocktails — excellent choice!
And I vote for a Russian Napoleon next, whatever on earth that is, just for the name.
Doulin vermouth, Luxardo cherries and Dickel Rye – how could you could you go wrong?
Congrats!! I absolutely love your blog. Hope there are many more years to come!
One teensy suggestion: I’m fairly certain bourbon must be produced in Kentucky. This is from my vast knowledge from being married to a native Kentuckian who forever swears against all Tennessee whiskey (never to be called bourbon). Though after your description, I’m now just a tiny bit tempted to try it.
Thank you again for all that you share with us!
Congratulations on the hitting one grand! I have always loved your web site and appreciate that you created a great recipe for one of my favorite cocktails.
Wishing you much success in the future!
I tried the Brooklyn for the first time just a few weeks ago and found it to be exceptional!
My son’s hair is almost identical in hue to your sweet daughter’s hair. He is 16 months old and I have yet to go out in public without having a conversation with a stranger about the fact that, “He has red hair!!” Perhaps your Manhattan and my Michigan are different in that respect. :)
I’ll take (a) Manhattan and Deb Perelman, too,
A thousand wishes for continued recipes and great content.
I quietly follow your site, and have unsuccessfully tried to copy your photography style. Congrats on the 1k mark!
I have a variation on the PM that I have found I really like. Instead of vermouth, I use Cocchi Americano and Cocchi Americano Rosa. It’s got a touch of bitterness about it that I really like. Maybe I should call it the Livefire Imperfect Manhattan. :)
A heartiest Mazel Tov to you and your family!!! I follow every single recipe you send, since I discovered you had a blog some years ago, when my son gave me your book as a gift. One of my most valuable treasures! Looking forward to 1000 more!!!
Mazel tov, Deb! And I have read every single one of those thousand and made quite a few, all completely excellent! You bring joy to my inbox and help me to put food on my family, as a certain ex-president would say. One note: I believe a Perfect Manhattan on the rocks would be served in a “rocks” glass, not a highball glass (which would be for taller drinks). An up Manhattan would be properly served in a Martini glass, I think. According to the Boston Bartenders School manual ;-)
Oh Deb. Every little thing you do is magic. Thank you for the 1,000 recipes. They have enriched my kitchen (and my confidence in said kitchen) more than you could know. You are my favorite!
Far be it from me to so much as insinuate how to improve on anything delivered from her food Highness (said with respect, not sarcasm) Ms. Perelman, let alone a treasure defined by you as “Perfect”…people have headed south in the afterlife for less. We love the Friday Manhattan and prefer George Dickel, Dolin and Luxardo, so we’re in lock step. And what a grand idea to add the dry vermouth. Although do forgive us for serving in a Martini glass Ma’am. This tempting version may break our pattern and have us celebrate (again) Friday night on Saturday. All said, our version doesn’t change anything regarding ingredients, but it’s the route to ones glass that we add to perfect the perfect Manhattan (and Negroni for that matter). Several months ago I purchased an oak barrel built for aging cocktails. Your perfect Manhattan, left to mature two to three months in this sedan results in cocktail nirvana…elegantly softened and rounded. It is well worth the cost and time, and makes for lovely gifts set in fun bottles what with Christmas three months away.
Thank you Deb for every one of your thousand delicious ideas, we are huge fans and so admire your trifecta of wonderful food, excellent photography and wry writing. Your not to shabby at child production either!
Mazel-tov on 1,000th recipe! I’m looking forward to the next 1,000! FYI, I’m Ann, the RV’er and I still continue to make your recipes in our RV! They are the best! You are my go to blog for anything I want to make. Thanks for your wonderful writing. Your children are adorable!
I was with you up until the Maraschino cherries. I now brandy my own fresh cherries per a friend’s delicious Manhattans. That way I always have a batch in the fridge. There are a couple of restaurants that use an interesting cherry that I have not been able to find out much about. But it is quite good and always is very dark and a little wrinkled. Not at all sweet. Perhaps it is the Griotine mentioned by a couple of your responders. Brandied cherries have multiple uses I find. Good in iced gin also. The maraschino is an abomination…
Congrats! Mazel Tov! And thank you for continuing my favorite blog!Its latte time so no toasting with a Manhattan till later.
This recipe of yours for butternut squash galette would likely rocket to the top of your savory list, if all your readers tried it. It’s actually fairly easy to do and has won me one work contest so far!
Congrats on 1000 recipes online! Love the 1st book and curious to check out the next one. Bizarre coincidence: I had my first celebrating Fall Manhattan last night while out to dinner. The bartender used Dickel Rye as well. Some Bonal quina, Pierre curaçao and bitters, cherry and orange peel. Had too look it up. So smooth. I agree with others posts on making own brand is cherries. Been making my own for years; so easy and tasty. I highly recommend as the brandy takes on a lovely flavor for drinks too.
How fitting! I was just thinking yesterday how happy I am to transition from gin and tonic and sangria season over to Manhattan and Old Fashioned season here in Chicago.
I’ve tried a frightening number of your 1000 recipes and many from your cookbook, and haven’t been disappointed once! Thank you for your lovely web presence and recipes that make me look like a good cook.
It’s the last evening of a very long weekend which included two days of national holiday. So tomorrow morning is a ‘get back to work with a vengeance’ kind of day. Yet now I’m longing for a Manhattan. Good thing I haven’t got Vermouth of any kind or I would be drinking one now. So it’ll have to wait for another day …. when I’ll raise a toast to you and your incredible 1000 posts, your relaxed, easy, non-grating or trying too hard, well-researched and knowledgeable writing style (which my teen reads over breakfast in the form of your cookbook….which we use very often). Bravo for your success. So well deserved. Cheers.
I second Carly’s suggestion to try out Tom Douglas’ Triple Coconut Cream Pie. The Tom Douglas Empire might be growing out of hand these days, but the pie (and his published recipe) is as good as ever. Here’s to the next 1,000 brilliant recipes (Manhattan in hand)!
wow- 1000! I love your blog and it has slowly turned into my go-to site for everything… “let’s see if smitten has a recipe for that” … and you usually do, and it’s always delicious! Here’s to 1000 more!
GINGER BABY!!!!! Congrats on 1000 posts, happy new year, and thanks for the great recipes.
Oooooo. No to bourbon. And no George Dickel. Whistlepig if you can get it, Jefferson’s if you can’t.
Congratulations Deb!!!!! I cannot tell you how much I truly love your blog – the way you share your life with your readers, the writing, the recipes, the photos – incredibly heartwarming, sweet, funny, and most of all delicious. We’ve never met but you touch my life, and I’m sure the lives of many of your readers, in such a positive, uplifting way! I am finally becoming a better cook, and other people like my cooking because of your site! That is a wonderful thing :-)
Here’s to thousands more!!
Congratulations Deb! Keep doing what you’re doing and the way you do it. And I say this in the interest of everyone around me since there would be no food in this house without you so- no pressure or anything but we need AT LEAST 1000 more.
Rye (Knob Creek, Bullet, or Willet), Antica Ricetta vermouth, 3 drops of Angostura bitters, stirred w ice. Strain & Pour. Add a Bordeaux cherry and a float of Luxardo liquer.
Cheers and Congratulations!
The “perfect manhattan” has always been my husband’s favorite cocktail — learned it from his grandmother :)
Deb, 1,000 recipes! I can’t believe it. Congratulations! In honor of the big milestone, I tallied up all the ones I’ve made (and used it as an opportunity to make my to-cook list, too). And though it’s a mere 15.8% of your total, many of those recipes have been made, shared, and enjoyed over and over (what can I say, I’m a cooking rut kind of girl! Those crispy eggs and frico sandwiches have made their mark on me). Thanks for all of your diligent work, fact-checking, and comment-acknowledging. You have made me a more knowledgeable and adventurous cook, and much happier in the kitchen. I hope you continue to enjoy your time cooking and creating. Congrats again!
Congratulations Deb! Thank you a thousand times. Whether it’s booze, pizza, cake or caramels, we can count on you for passion, great photography, stories, laughs and always a good recipe we wished we had thought of first. You are my gold standard of a food blogger and I am a fan for life. Cheers and here’s to 1000 more!
Oh, yes! Sipping one right now! Have you made yourself a Boulevardier? Another sort of take on a Manhattan but has a bit of Campari which I don’t always like, but it adds a nice edge to the drink. Cheers!
Since you asked, Deb, I’d really love a good recipe for spaghetti squash. My parents seem to have good luck growing them and regularly bestow them on us, but they just aren’t as versatile as butternut squash, and if I wanted spaghetti, I’d eat spaghetti. . . So, I have a storage room full of lovely spaghetti squashes, and trolling the internet for recipes has not turned up anything interesting or original to do with them.
congrats on 1000! But for the love of all the is decent on this earth, please distinguish your bitters, as well as your whiskeys. Bourbon (being made of corn) is much sweeter than than Rye, which is the traditional ingredient in a Manhattan. They are very different drinks. And Peychauds is tradionally only used in a Sazerac, not a Manhattan; and orange bitters ARE actually traditional in a Manhattan. Angostura is a late addition mass marketed product, not even around when the drink was created.
Great blog and all, but a little research?
You live in the greatest city on earth, and the only European city in the U.S.
That is a perfect Manhattan. Cheers to 1000 awesome recipes!
Congratulations Deb!!! This blog is awesome:-) I like your ice cube tray.
Congratulations: wonderful site, I am taking your recent zucchini recipe to a dinner party tonight.
Joanna — Thank you! The comment counts lend a bias to bigger announcements and more classic dishes, and sweet recipes far dominate.
Tim — Wow, thank you and also I am just drop-jawed over the fact that you have an oak barrel for aging cocktails and am now trying to figure out what I’d have to remove from the apartment (one child? both? just kidding, maybe) to make room for one. :) It sounds heavenly.
Jennie — You are completely correct. I apparently had no idea what a highball glass actually looked like; now fixed.
Jules — We get a lot of comments on it, but only when she’s in the Bjorn and you can see her little tufts over it, not so much when she’s buried in her stroller cocoon. I hope it stays red! Every time I look at it, I’m just shocked. Kids are always surprising but this, for us, was then some.
Nancy — The combination of sweet and dry vermouths is what makes it a “perfect” Manhattan — it’s less sweet, as we prefer it.
Topol — This recipe indeed says you should stir to be traditional, however, the theory that bubbles are introduced in the shaking has been refuted (it’s supposed to do more with an unclean shaker), so it doesn’t much matter how you mix it. A dash technically supposed to be 1/16 of a teaspoon, but it’s measured in one shake of the bitters bottle.
Heather — Two spaghetti squash recipes, this Moroccan spiced one in the archives (far more delicious than the photo lets on), and a beloved taco recipe in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Hope that gets you started!
T. Basco — Did you see the part at the end of the recipe where I explain the difference between bourbon, whiskey and the various bitters in great detail, and also which are considered traditional?
This is the way my Gramps (who lived in Parkchester) made a Manhattan. Sadly I was never old enough to drink when he made them. He taught my father how to make them so he could make them for my mother and Nana when they came to visit (still not old enough.) I think in all those years I only drank one or two that my father had made. After my father passed away we have struggled to find the right Manhattan and it took some tweaking, by now my husband can make them. We have upgraded to a homemade brandied cherry.
This is how I was taught to make Manhattans. My mother was the queen of the Manhattan. Always with Jim Beam. Always. Except in winter when she would, every once in a while, make it with Southern Comfort. I cannot tell you how many times that woman sent her drink back to the bartender with specific instructions to the waiter on how to make it properly. (We live in New Orleans) Good times. But she never drank a “bad” Manhattan.
Also, “the theory that bubbles are introduced in the shaking has been refuted (it’s supposed to do more with an unclean shaker), so it doesn’t much matter how you mix it.” That’s just rubbish. As someone who tended bar for many years, I can tell you that you may prefer the frothy, algae/swampwater consistency of a shaken Manhattan, but you cannot claim that the two methods of preparing the drink yield the same results. Stirring chills the drink without diluting as much, which yields a more viscous, almost syrupy mouth-feel which is much preferred.
And the drink should be served in a cocktail (martini) glass, unless you want to serve it on the rocks (in the highball glass you used in the photo). Cocktail glasses are shaped the way they are for a reason (it keeps the drink colder longer, which is why you should hold them by the stem).
One more thing: to write a cocktail recipe by merely giving the ratios, is not a recipe at all. The Manhattan, amongst all drinks, is about choice of ingredients and proportion. Not indicating which whiskey, or which brand of spirits, is like sending these people out into the jungle without a machete, which pretty well insures many will return with a bad experience of a great cocktail.
3pts Rittenhouse 101 Rye
1pt Carpano Antica Italian vermouth
1pt Dolin French vermouth
3 dashes The Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
Stir over lots of (big) ice for thirty seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass and express a lemon peel over the top.
I’m so excited to see this milestone! I’ve been reading nearly from the beginning, and yours is the only blog I come back to time and time again. I think I’ll make one of these tonight. Cheers!
Luxardo cherries are actual marasca cherries and if you are using cherries a great choice. So called maraschino cherries have been robbed of their natural cherry flavor through a “brine” and re flavored with artificial almond. I would steer clear of peychauds in this drink if using the lemon peel as you basically would have a vermouthed sazerac. William H is right, stirring is a must as shaking adds more volume and dilutes the drink faster ( especially if you use larger ice cubes).
Dolin Vermouth! Good on you! Perfect for Mans n Marts n “Perfects”. But have you ever enjoyed Dolin Blanc? Chilled? Over ice? Delightful. Add a twist. Or… make this: Zucca Amaro + Dolin Blanc with a twist and a dash o Rhubarb bitters.
Seriously. If you know Dolin…. :)
Miss Deb…the cocktail aging barrel is a wee lad at but 2 Liters. The space of a small toaster. I’m certain you could find the space of two shoe boxes in a closet to spare. Just google “cocktail oak aging barrels”…there are many choices. After I re-read my note, it did sound like I had a behemoth!
My vote for favorite is the cauliflower cheese! Could you make it with brussels sprouts instead of cauliflower? I have a lot of brussels sprouts in the fridge that need to be used up. Followed by everything else cauliflower and any variation of shakshuka. I love eggs.
Congratulations Deb! I love that every single one of those 1000 recipes has had heart and thought put into it, and was shared with us in such an honest, relatable, and engaging way. I love reading each and every one of your posts, and every recipe that I’ve ever tried from here has always exceeded my expectations. I can’t wait to try this Manhattan, as I’ve always wanted to try a very good one. Thank you for occupying this lovely space on the web! <3
Congrats! And thanks for putting the most popular recipes – I’m surprised your mom’s chocolate chip coffee cake isn’t in the sweet one as it’s such a winner! My other favourites are the best cocoa brownies (too easy, they became my “stress baking” often when I was a student!) and the nectarine brown butter buckle – so good and they work every time!
This is certainly a milestone to be celebrated, and there’s no better way than with a Manhattan (or two – no one is counting). My favorite Manhattan is made with a rye from southwest Michigan – my current (long-time) favorite rye: http://www.journeymandistillery.com/2015/05/27/new-name-same-great-rye/
Garnish this with a naughty little cherry: http://www.amazon.com/Fabbri-Amarena-Cherries-Syrup-Decorated/dp/B000YPG7RQ/ref=sr_1_5?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1443442799&sr=1-5&keywords=amarena+cherries
Congrats! I am definitely looking forward to the next 1000 recipes and stories. Loved your cornflower muffins, have to make them again for breakfast this weekend!
Definitely will be making this. Congrats on the 1000 recipe milestone!
Sometime in the next 1000, how do you feel about Korean food? I would very much love to see you take on bibimbap at some point if that’s something that interests you.
What a great cocktail for Fall!
Oh yes! I had a “perfect” Manhattan at a local pub, and have also been using both sweet/dry vermouth ever since. With an orange peel. Yum.
I’ve known a close cousin to this drink in the Perfect Rob Roy. Same concept, but with scotch instead of bourbon or rye.
Congratulations on your great work in publishing 1000 recipes and promoting good humor and food culture along the way!
Congratulations, Deb, that’s wonderful. Just reading the first recipe in your most popular list – apple cider caramels, that was the first recipe from your book I’ve made. Time to make them again!
I’m pretty excited to make a “perfect” Manhattan as I have some dry vermouth (Yes, Dolin!!) in the fridge that does not get nearly as much play as my sweet vermouth. I just don’t drink as many martinis as i do Manhattans. With this recipe, i can stretch out the sweet vermouth and use up the dry! win, win! cheers!
i’m surprised to not see more squealing over that SPOON! absolutely awesome. i’ve been following you for years and have several friends now hooked on your wisdom – one didn’t even like to cook before you but now she feels comfortable to try things that you suggest! congrats and i can’t wait to see what you do next. something with plantains maybe, as i finish up my contract in central america…
Congratulations on 1000 recipes! Though I own (and enjoy) your print book, your website is still my favorite cookbook, Deb. It’s the one that taught me how to cook when I was in college and someone *just happened* to send me the link to your cookie recipes. Then I *just happened* to read almost everything you had posted up to that point over my Christmas break. It’s been 7 years since then, and I really think reading your thoughts on food and recipes has made me much bolder in the kitchen than I would have been otherwise. “Of course I can pull off this from-scratch food I’ve only ever eaten in a restaurant – Deb said I could!” To many more emboldening recipes.
Congrats on 1000 recipes! My friends and family all know my go-to blog when looking for a recipe–everything always turns out perfect!
Since you mentioned your previous blog above, I have decided to re-read for fun, and I am finding some of the earlier posts very funny, especially this little bit:
13. I don’t ‘coo’ when I see babies. Usually, I am hoping they won’t droll on me or attach themselves to my leg, or, god forbid, cry. If I am ever nuts enough to have children, however, they will be gorgeous and loved by all. (Just like their momma, hahaha).
14. When someone talks to me about marriage, I only imagine the Deb-shaped hole in the door that will be there in ten seconds if you don’t stop talking this nonsense right now, Mister.
Do you ever go back and read them now that you’re 10 years and 2 kids in?
I adore Manhattans! I too am a rye fan, and while I usually do mine classic instead of perfect, I respect the perfect as well. I’ve been making my own maraschino cherries (in a maraschino liqueur syrup) for a while now, and they’re a nice alternative to the very pricey Luxardos.
I’ll take Manhattan! And, given your love of whiskey…and sweets…you may want to try a taste of Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup. Holy cow…wow. You would love it.
Conratulations! And thanks are also in place. I don’t know how I would fare without your (mum’s) lighter-than-air chooclate cake. Here’s to the next 1000!
Congrats on 1000! Never in my 7 years of marriage have I had as many consecutive “this is a keeper” comments from my husband about what I cook or bake. Thanks for marital encouragement. :)
Can’t wait til the next cookbook comes out (just now finally getting into the current one – new mom problems), and I always look forward to your next webpost recipe!
My, oh my, your kids are adorable! Having a little redhead is so great! My daughter has just a hint of red, so it’s fun to have a little “me” there when she is so much her dad. Anyway, since your son is so big compared to your daughter, it’s amusing to see their similar expressions and very different sizes!
Enjoy the Manhatten (w/ 2nd kid, can’t imbede…yet), and keep on posting! Thanks again!
Many congrats on your success and your pioneering spirit.
And Manhattans! Sooo many wonderful memories. My mother once told me I was quite a little Manhattan fan as a child, which really surprised me as I didn’t like or appreciate alcohol until I was a full fledged adult. She said I was always on Grandpa’s lap when she brought him a fresh cocktail. After I thought about it a bit, I pointed out that a fresh drink would’ve contained a fresh cherry which Grandpa would’ve with his favorite granddaughter. Okay there were four of us but I was more competitive than my cousins.
This is so beautiful. Huge congrats!
Requests: frozen pizza. For the “I have time on the weekend but not so much during the week” crowd.
And that banana pudding you hinted at awhile ago…
Congratulations on this grand milestone! Love the blog (especially the cute kid pics) and my SK cookbook so much. I just realized I have been reading since 2007. What?! I was so jazzed when the cookbook came out and have talked about you/your recipes so often that my mom bought me the book for my birthday that year lol! Not that I was hinting. I had just mentioned it so often, she just knew.
Your broccoli slaw and the apple cake from your mom are two of my family’s all time faves. I’ve tried and been happy with so many of your recipes! I think I have made literally hundreds of them and my only fail was the deep dish apple pie from the book. I was testing thanksgiving recipes and I now realize in the holiday crush I never retried that one. Hmmm…gotta remedy that and since I have a bunch of gorgeous apples in the house, sounds like perfect timing!
Did you have the Brooklyn Manhattan at EMP? Brooklyn 2017!
I love that your 1,000th recipe is for a perfect Manhattan! Congratulations. Here’s to a thousand more.
Many congratulations! To 1000 more!
Congratulations Deb! Thank you for the 1000 recipes – I must have made close to 100 of them, with not a dud to be found. Please don’t ever stop!
Seriously perfect life goals. Cheers!
Erin B (#86) is right. Bourbon is a protected name, like champagne. It has to come from Kentucky. Tennessee can have whisky, and it can have “sour mash” (see the Jack Daniels bottle), but it cannot have bourbon.
Sounds delicious- what kind of whiskey do you usually use?
Ordered a Perfect Manhattan last night because, as my husband and I joke, you could post a recipe for dirt and I would make it and eat it because you have such a perfect track record in our house :P It was so lovely–I never realized that I thought Manhattans were too sweet until now. Thank you so much for providing me with so much kitchen inspiration and teaching me to like foods I never thought that I liked. Congratulations on 1000 recipes!
The several people claiming that Bourbon must be made in Kentucky are dead wrong. Bourbon is made all over the US now. The only regulations are the mash bill (corn %), barrel aging (new charred oak barrels), and the aging (anything under 3 yrs must be labeled as such). The are absolutely no laws on the books about the geographical origins.
Pamela — SUCH a great find! I wonder how hard that Deb would roll her eyes at me, or maybe just be in disbelief. But honestly, I remember exactly where I was coming from. I hated the idea that I was supposed to be clamoring for “the one” or a family when I honestly had little control over whether I ever met my match and I refused to define my life by longing, rather than the things I could choose to fill it with — a good career, great friends, hobbies and interest. So, I decided I’d only consider marriage if/when I found someone worth marrying. And kids, only if I came around. I guess I did. :)
Emma — I sneak it in a photo every year or so. It was a gift from one of my husband’s friends when I came through her city on book tour.
Andrew — I love Korean food and was just thinking I need to learn to make bimbimbap. (I also have, ahem, what I think is a pretty amazing recipe for Korean-style sizzling beef that I weirdly have given out to many friends and not you guys? I’ll fix that soon.)
Tim D — Now I know what to ask for for Hanukah.
I’ve been consulting your blog for years. My roommate introduced me to your recipes. Years later she was my maid-of-honor and we baked the cakes for my wedding using your red wine chocolate cake and almond raspberry layer cake recipes in our small Boston apartment. Yesterday I made your cheddar broccoli soup for my one year old son and husband. I’m looking forward to making these Manhattans and drinking to your fantastic 1000 recipe run. Thanks for all the great food!
Congratulations Deb on all your wonderful accomplishments. I stumbled across your blog midway through my husband’s deployment years ago, and have discovered so many delicious recipes that I now share with friends and family (old and new) on our travels. It has meant so much to me to be able to connect with people through food, and overcome the sometimes-lonely periods of life with the military. The way you look back on your life in this post, with all its milestones and memories, has reminded me to do the same today. Congratulations on your 1,000th recipe! I will be here for many more to come, and maybe will try my first manhattan (yes – ever) tonight with you. :)
Love it :), the Perfect Manhattan was my first “grown-up” drink (i.e. after all the cheap fruity terribleness of college) & what I always got at that bar I could walk to from my big city apartment – so sophisticated, so urban(e)! Until they apparently got a new bartender who thought “Perfect Manhattan” meant a glass of whiskey garnished with an olive?!? Ugh.
Deb has got it right as far as the Manhattan is concerned. Though I will echo one or two of the other comments made regarding the specificity of ingredients. Just like a great Italian pasta dish, the proper Manhattan only has a short list of things in it, but the quality of those ingredients, the proportions used, and the assembly technique are all critical.
If you’re going for classic, then there really isn’t a question as to Rye vs. Bourbon—it’s Rye all the way. A Bourbon Manhattan can be delicious, but it’s stylistically a very different beverage. Thicker, sweeter, and if you’ll allow me a bit of pomp, probably a better fit for the average palate. But Rye, as Deb described, is lean and dry and peppery. In a Rye Manhattan, the drink’s sweetness is entirely contributed by other ingredients, and in my opinion that’s all you really need. As far as choice of Rye is concerned, my personal favorite for mixed drinks is Rittenhouse. It’s got all the qualities described above, and sells for about $25 a bottle.
There are a few choices in vermouth, but Dolin is great, and the half/half thing is something I’m definitely going to try when I restock. Like many others I’ve been using Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, which is fantastic quality, but needs to be used judiciously or it’ll throw the drink off balance. Dolin, on the other hand, is more forgiving.
And for bitters I always use Agnostura, and cherries I use Luxardos. The bitters can be exchanged with a few other varieties as mentioned, but for cherries, it’s really Luxardo or bust. Don’t use the nuclear red cherries you can buy at the grocery store for your ice cream unless you can avoid it. A jar of Luxardos is pricey ($15-$18), but you can make many drinks with one, and it’s worth it if you are a regular drinker of Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, etc. In lieu of the Luxardos, the orange twist is also great (for a real treat, take a lighter or match to it to release the oils before dropping it into the glass).
Nice job in succinctly describing various American whiskies; you know how bourbonites will go on and on! I have aged a small batch of Manhattans is a small oak barrel; they’re awesome. And I think rye is “perfect” for a Perfect Manhattan. Nice post!
Deb! Where did you get those glasses? They are gorgeous.
Sarah — Thanks. They’re from our wedding registry… 10 years ago! Iitala Aarne is the line. I believe it’s the whiskey glass, but it could be the cocktail one, and I hope none ever break (of course they will) because I’m not sure we can afford to replace many.
I just want to say thank you so much for this recipe. My husband and I both really enjoyed this!
Congratulations! And thank you, for adding so many favorite (and perfect) recipes to my list of regulars.
Also tickled that you chose the Manhattan to celebrate. You share so many stories about what you are making, I feel compelled to share my Manhattan cocktail memories. My grandma was a busy, gregarious woman and cooked food that she shared with people all over Scranton. At Christmas, it was nothing to get 7-8 dozen cookies from her, along with a fruitcake (made last year and lovingly drizzled with brandy throughout the year.) Every day after breakfast was through and dishes were done, she made her Manhattan. It was combined in her glass shaker and put into the freezer to chill all day. Sometime before dinner she finally retrieved it and sat down to savor it on the front porch, most likely the first time she’d sat down all day. I like to think of her thinking about her cocktail all day as she bustled through life. Her reward.
Kristina — I want to be her when I grow up! Or maybe I should start today. Thanks for the wonderful story.
do you have a perfect old fashion recipe??
Manisha — Not yet!
Congrats on 1,000! You’ve sourced my kitchen with many go-to’s- thanks!
Where is that cocktail shaker from? I’ve been hunting for one for my husband for Christmas and that looks perfect!
Christine — No-name brand, came in a gift set… probably a decade ago!
I got this blog update/email when I was very pregnant (read: DONE with my third pregnancy), and I could not wait to try it. We had our first baby-free night and I ordered a Perfect Manhatten and it WAS perfect. Never heard of it and I thank you for it!!
Made this last night and drank my first-ever Manhattan. The flavor was deep and complex, and I’m glad I heeded the warning to enjoy slowly…. bonkers potent is right! I’m looking forward to experimenting with the rye vs bourbon and the alternate bitters, though at the rate we make mixed drinks here, it will probably take years before I taste test any variations.
Try Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, voted the # 1 Rye by those in the know (definitely not me :-))). Works great in your Manhattan – thx for sharing this recipe.
You are as funny as you think your are!.
Deb I make a darn good Manhattan myself-so say all my friends 😉 It all starts with homemade maraschino cherries. I buy lots of cherries in season, pit them & freeze what I don’t immediately use. Then I make a wonderful simple syrup with citrus peel, cinnamon sticks, star anise & other appropriate spices & my homemade vanilla. As that comes to a boil I add in the cherries & let that simmer for about 10 minutes. Then I add in some Luxardo Marachino Liqueur. Let that sit in fridge for a week or 2 before using so the cherries soak up all that goodness. Now the drink: I make it in batches so to always have on hand, especially in cooler months. 3 parts Dickels 12 year to 1 part sweet vermouth over lots of ice. Stir in (2 of my iced teaspoons-which is probably one of anyone’s teaspoon from their silverware drawer) liquid from cherries and 1-2 cherries along with bitters of your liking. My fav is the Toasted Oak Bitters from Napa Valley Bitters (available online from NVB). Give a good stir & enjoy! When your drink gets low and you can delicately fish your cherries out with your fingers, you will find they are most delectable having sat in the drink that long. I am like the cherry police making sure everybody eats their cherries so they do not go to waste! It’s quite the treat at the end of the drink!
I am pretty sure I will never be up for making my own cherries but my goodness, that sounds delicious. Q: Have you ever done so with sour cherries? I’d understood that what Luxardo cherries begin with, some Hungarian variety that’s tiny. But I don’t remember where I read it and this could be totally wrong.
Thank you Deb for your reply! I have never used sour cherries as they are not readily available in my area (D.C. burbs); mostly use bing cherries. My most educated (and may be incorrect) guess is the Marachino cherry is indiginious to Croatia. I did Google it and found this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maraschino_cherry I have tried the jarred Luxardo Marachino cherries off Amazon at a friend’s recommendation, but found them too leathery or “tough” for my palate :)
I have a family connection to Fhör, and visited once for New Years. It is an über charming little place, and they do serve Manhattans as the specialty drink everywhere!
I adore a good Manhattan. In recent years however I have drifted towards a variant called a black Manhattan which replaces the vermouth with Amaro. The herbaceous bitterness of the Amaro makes for a wonderful drink.
The bartenders at the Wahington Square Hotel (where I had my first manhattan) always asked if I wanted my manhattan perfect. At home, ginger bitters are my favorite.
I am always thrilled when a bartender knows how to make a perfect Manhattan. At home I always have a cherry, but I also love olives soaked in it, or even pickled mushrooms. It’s a “perfect” cocktail before my Saturday night steak.
Try a black Manhattan where you use Amaro instead of vermouth. Plenty of complexity and more on the drier side similar to the perfect one.
Hi! Manhattans are my favorite cocktail almost all year round! I prefer Bourbon (Woodford or knob Creek) Manhattans or made with Jack Daniels Single Barrel Select Whiskey and Carpano Antica Vermouth. Never tried with dry vermouth. I like spiced cherry bitters as well as orange bitters. Thin I’ll have one tonight! Straight up. Stirred!
Ever tried a Boulevardier? It’s basically a Negroni with bourbon instead of gin. Equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth and bourbon, with a splash of orange bitters. Yum.
Wow! Will try!!
Must be served up, and while super cold from the stirring process, have a sheen of orange oil across the top from twisting a peel over it. Hmmm …
I just got lost in your blog for a few minutes! I hope it’s a glimpse of my future. :)
Can you tell me the resource you used for the glass carafes that you put your Manhattan drink in? I think they are on Amazon but I’m not sure what they’re called. Thank you and happy Thanksgiving!
she posted them on instagram! here is the link :)
I am planning to make a “batch” of perfect manhattans for Christmas this year.
I *think* I’m doing the calculations correctly but can you elaborate on the proportions your used for your Friendsgiving batch manhattans?
I just scaled it up based on what I had and the carafe size. So, you could start with 2 ounces = 1 cup. So you’d need 1/4 cup of each vermouth, etc. And then I had more space in my carafe so I added more, maybe with 2 ounces = 1/2 cup… etc.
Yum!! My first sip I thought just use sweet vermouth; then I took another, and I was convinced that the mixture of the two is perfect!
Also used bourbon but I think rye would also be lovely.
Be certain to strain the ice so the drink doesn’t get watered down while you are savoring the drink.
My husband makes our family’s “secret” version (Southern Comfort and dry vermouth, bitters, cherry, and a small splash of the cherry juice) every year for our church’s Time & Talent auction. This year they brought $45 for each of eight pint jars! They’re smooth, easy to drink, and, like all good Manhattans, potent!
Inexperienced cocktail server here. If you make carafes of Manhattans, how do you serve it? Do you put one drink’s worth into a shaker with ice and then strain into a glass? Or just pour one drink into a glass and add ice?
Either works, but usually the first.
Sorry, but a couple of necessary comments. Clear ice is a must, so buy a bag for the fridge and future cocktails. Never, ever, shake a Manhattan, because you lose the clarity and beauty of the color. Lastly, orange bitters is a no no in this cocktail. I’m normally not a traditionalist, but this is a simple drink that can easily go a rye…-:)
Just what the doctor ordered for a beautiful late summer evening following a “shopping” experience for the hubby! Enjoyed an old-fashioned on the front porch – and will make this Manhattan a wrap-up for our next outing!
I saw this recipe a long time ago and remembered it today and tried it. Delicious! I’ve never made a recipe of yours that I haven’t loved and I’ve made plenty of them! Thanks for another winner Deb!!
Hi there, thank you for the information!
Hi! I was just reading your post about the Perfect Manhattan and I clicked on the link to the Austrian Restaurant and it went to a defunct website, then it froze my computer and said that my identity was being stolen and to call a number for Apple Support. I closed out of the internet and turned off my computer and did NOT call the number that popped up, but rather called Apple support directly. I spoke to the Apple support guy who told me I was fine and that it was a phishing thing. But I just wanted you to know that the link to the Austrian Restaurant is no good and could be dangerous, so you probably want to remove it. Also, I was wondering what the restaurant was and if it still exists in the West Village? Now I really need a Manhattan! Thanks!
My husband agreed with you on your ‘dissertation’ of the explanations of liquor used in Manhattens, so you ‘did’ good! Not that he’s an authority on liquor…but basically, he felt you did a great job! We both wondered why you didn’t talk about the Luxardo cherries…we found them (accidentally) at the end of a row in our neighborhood Costco. Hubbie started exclaiming about their ridiculously inexpensive price (ie CHEAP) price and grabbed a packaged set of two jars for 15$ and change. We walked to the checkout whereupon they rang up at 30$ for the package…I had to take a pic of the sign showing the incorrect price, run back to checkout, whereupon they charged me the incorrect price (along with another 2 pack), and then they promptly changed the sign. I’ll never eat one of those ridiculously sweet maraschino cherry again…Luxardo’s are the best. Sadly, looks like I’ll have to buy these regular price next time. (And prob never again at Costco…you know the meme…buy it when you see it because it prob won’t be coming back!) Thanks for such enjoyable ‘dribble’…you are enjoyably funny! As well as a great chef! ❤️