A Perfect Manhattan

Brian and I agree on many things—oh, that The Barefoot Contessa is smug and annoying (but not as smug or annoying as Michael Chiarello); that anchovies are severely underappreciated; that chicken’s fine, but pork is better. But when it comes to that intoxicatingly complex and perfect-for-winter cocktail known as the Manhattan, we belong to decidedly different schools. Brian likes his rich, dark, and luscious, like the Pegu Club’s interpretation with Woodford Bourbon, while I prefer the zesty and ultra-dry rendition served up at Angel’s Share. But our differences notwithstanding, last week we set about to mix a Manhattan we both could love.

We began with our one point in common, and that concerns the cherry. No hum-drum maraschino cherry would tarnish our lovely drink—only a tangy, deep-purple amarena cherry would do. With that settled, we moved on to the main event. The starting point was Old Overholt rye, the same stuff as in my Angel’s Share cocktail. After a little back and forth, we found the Perfect Manhattan—with half sweet vermouth and half dry—to be the, er, perfect compromise. To make our drink a bit special, we also mixed in a splash of the amarena cherry syrup—one teaspoon for Brian, half a teaspoon for me. The result was an ultra-smooth, easy-drinking cocktail that I know we’ll be making again. And remember, kids—stir, don’t shake, this one!


2 ounces rye
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
1/2-1 teaspoon amarena cherry syrup
a couple dashes Angostura bitters
2 amarena cherries

Drop cherries into a martini glass. Combine remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes. Stir well. Pour into the martini glass.

Be sure to visit Imbibe magazine’s blog for more quaffable winter warmers!