The Right Coast

November 02, 2004
The Perfect Manhattan
By Tom Smith

KLJ, over at the Corner, allows as she does not know how to make a Manhattan. An appalling admission, but OK. Better late than never. My father in law, who took the train from New Canaan to Grand Central for 40 years and worked his way from the mail room to the very top of a giant advertising firm, had at least one Manhattan every day of his life and still does. My courtship of his cute daughter prospered in the golden glow of many such. Anyway . . .

The perfect Manhattan

Take a crystal old-fashioned glass.
Bestow unto it two large jiggers of the best Canadian whiskey you can find. Chivas does nicely.
Now add the sweet vermouth. And do this very carefully. How much? I suggest taking the cap of the Martini & Ross sweet vermouth bottle, and filling it approximately 65% full. Not more. Then add that to the Chivas.
Now, and this is key, add a 3/4 cap full of pure spring water. NYC water is fine. Other places, use bottled water. (The water "opens up" the rye.) Now stir briefly.
Then add ice. Crushed ice is good. Cubes are OK. Stir. Stir a lot. Stir at least 100 times, until the outside of your crystal Manhattan glass starts to dew up.
Finally, add a sliver of orange rind. Now say, thank you, Jesus. Because a perfect Manhattan is one of many evidences that God is good.

So that, my dear, is a Manhattan. A rye martini. A bullet directed at that spot in your forebrain that does nothing but make you unhappy just now. You are permitted to say, yum yum.

MORE . . . Cherry juice?! Do not add cherry juice! My G-d, it's a martini, not a Shirley Temple! It is the drink of sophisticated Manhattanites, not some maiden Tennessee auntie's tipple! KJL, tell me you will not sully your libation with cherry juice. That would be like putting licorice into a gin martini. By all that is holy! And making Manhattans in a jar? Why not make them out in the shed, while your at it, if you can bet Old Rusty to clear out? If you put in cherries, it will be too sweet. You don't like things to be too sweet do you? Sweet is for babies, not tough, old Republicans. This is too upsetting. I need a drink.

HOW EMBARASSING: I meant to say Crown Royal not Chivas. Yes, Chivas is a scotch, not a Canadian whiskey. Just use a good Canadian whiskey. A fellow former MacKinnon clerk tells me that a "Perfect Manhattan" is made with dry vermouth and bitters. But I meant perfect with a lower case P. I've never had a Perfect Manhattan, actually, but I don't like bitters. A regular Manhattan is a relatively sweet martini, yummy rather than bracing. Yes, I like plain old gin martinis too. As to watering the whiskey, well, I'm talking about a teaspoon of water, an innovation introduced by my father-in-law, who noticed the taste improved after the ice melted a little. Please note that my recipe calls for two large jiggers, roughly a triple sized drink. If you put away a couple of these, you need not prove your manhood in any other way. And you will feel much more favorably disposed to all mankind.