Equal parts cocktails: Classic Manhattan

manhattanI was psyched to see an perfect equal-parts Manhattan take the top spot in Woodford Reserve’s recent drink competition.  Even the extra touches — 2 dashes bitters, 2 dashes absinthe — measure out in equal parts! That’s Jonathan Howard, a Nashville, TN bartender, in the photo above pouring out multiples of his drink for the lucky judges.

Jonathan Howard’s Classic Manhattan

1.5 parts Woodford Reserve Rye
1.5 parts Cocchi Torino Vermouth
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
2 dashes Absinthe

Grab a Lewis bag and crack several pieces of large format ice. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with cracked ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

UPDATED 8/17: Oops! It was helpfully pointed out to me that a “perfect” Manhattan means equal parts sweet and dry vermouth – NOT equal parts whiskey and vermouth. Now corrected above. It’s a good thing I never claimed to be “perfect” myself, ha ha.

Equal parts cocktails: Any Which Way But Left

FullSizeRenderThe past month, I was asked to judge the Star of the Bar cocktail contest — and this cocoa-and-spice equal-parts stunner with just a hint of grapefruit (created by Matt Friedlander) was the NYC regional winner. No, it didn’t win because it measured out in equal proportions. But it sure didn’t hurt.

(P.S. Shameless promo alert: My book has a new name:  Shake. Stir. Sip.: 40 Effortless Cocktails Made in Equal Parts and it’s officially available for pre-order! If you click through you can also take a peek at the cover – which looks a little like the drink above.)

Any Which Way But Left

Matt Friedlander, Head Bartender, Fools Gold, NYC

Friedlander says that the name of this drink, an “anti-Valentine’s Day Negroni variation” is “a reference to Tinder-swiping habits in my bar after 3 AM.”

1 ounce Jagermeister

1 ounce Aperol

1 ounce Brovo Amaro No. 4

5 drops Bittermen’s Xocolatl Mole bitters

Grapefruit peel, for garnish

Combine all ingredients except bitters and grapefruit peel in a large mixing glass. Stir over ice for approximately 20 seconds and strain into rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with bitters and grapefruit peel.

Talking and tippling with the 3 “Vermouth-kateers”

The "Vermouth-kateers":  Carl Sutton, Neil Kopplin and Andrew Quady

The “Vermouth-kateers”: Carl Sutton, Neil Kopplin and Andrew Quady

Julia Child splashed French vermouth into much of her cooking. James Bond added Italian vermouth to his famous “shaken, not stirred,” martinis. But American-made vermouth is what’s now taking the cocktail world by storm.

So on April 8, it was my pleasure to moderate a panel of West Coast wine and vermouth producers, “Fountain of Vermouth,” at the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference in San Francisco.

The three panelists- who jokingly refer to themselves as “vermouth-kateers“-  were Neil Kopplin, a former bartender and current partner of Portland, Oregon’s Imbue Cellars, who makes his Bittersweet Vermouth with Willamette Valley Pinot Gris; Carl Sutton, owner of Sutton Cellars in Sonoma, Calif.; and Andrew Quady, a Madera, California-based winemaker who also produces vermouth under the Vya label.

Quady first provided the attendees with a definition of the aromatized, fortified “wine-but more than just wine,” including an overview of some of the botanicals used to flavor it.

That was followed by a lively debate between Kopplin and Sutton, who have divergent philosophies about what makes for good vermouth. Sutton said he starts with both wine and brandy that is “absolutely neutral” in character: “I want a completely blank canvas, something I can project onto.” He then adds as many as 17 ingredients for flavoring.

Kopplin, for his part, insisted that since the wine makes up 75-80% of what’s in the glass, it should be “the bright shining star” that the botanicals are selected to complement. He fully expects his vermouth to change from year to year, he added, since he switches up the base wine with each vintage. This year, he’s using local Pinot Gris; next year, the base will be Sémillon.

To cap it all off,  Sutton mixed up a round of Bamboo cocktails for the crowd – here’s the recipe:

Bamboo Cocktail

1½ oz. Lustau amontillado sherry

1½ oz. Sutton Cellars dry vermouth

2 dashes orange bitters

1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir together all ingredients with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass.   Garnish with a lemon peel twist.