I 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.
I’ve always had an attraction to hotel bars with history. It’s almost like going to a museum, with cocktails. In addition to great drinks, the best places (like Peacock Alley inside the Waldorf Astoria) also have great architecture and well-preserved details like a chiming clock in the center of the lobby — and fabulously old-school bartenders who can spin a tale as well as shake a drink. With all those elements in place, it’s practically a time machine.
For fun, I pulled together a “cheat sheet” of hotel bars I tried out for the tour (see image below – click on it and it should open up to full, easy-reading size). Anything that didn’t rate a triple ‘YES” (if not a “HELL YES!”) wasn’t even considered for the walking tour. And of course, some tri-Y’s were sadly out of walking distance.
A disclaimer: this is something I created for (my) entertainment purposes, and represents my opinions and sometimes cloudy and/or boozy recollections. It’s not even close to a complete list of all historic bars in the city. Take this as gospel at your own risk.
And an invitation: if you have other historic or semi-historic hotel bars to suggest adding to this list, I’m happy to give ’em a go and if I have enough to add, I’ll post an update to this list. Enjoy!