I’ve been making a fair number of Manhattans lately.
Manhattans were my ur-cocktail: my best friend’s parents in college made me them, I got comically drunk, I fell in love with them, et cetera. Even once I turned 21 and started taking cocktails “seriously”, the Manhattan was my launching pad for mixology: I tinkered with proportions, with aging, with vermouth substitutions.
Along the way, I slowly realized that while I loved Manhattans, I enjoyed Martinis and Old Fashioneds more — both seemed to suit my palate more. And so prior to the past few weeks, I could probably count on one hand the number I’ve had in the past three years despite always having vermouth and rye on hand.
I don’t know why, but something made me go back to the well recently, and I’ve been falling in love all over again. I think the Manhattan is the Best Cocktail — the platonic ideal of what a cocktail is. It beats out the Martini (a drink most commonly defined by how non-cocktail-y it is, to invoke Winston Churchill’s classic quip) and the Old Fashioned (by virtue of only having one base).