The Manhattan, simply put, is my very favorite cocktail. It’s my go-to cocktail for home happy hours or when I don’t know what I’m in the mood for. I always drink it in my special glass—the one with the bullseye on it. My wife gave me this glass as a gift and it's my traditional happy hour cocktail glass. It's important to establish little happy hour traditions at home. It’s also the drink that I typically order on the road to see if the bartender is capable of making a good cocktail or not. So while this drink is not new, my recipe collection would be incomplete without it.
2 oz bourbon or rye whiskey
1 oz Vya sweet vermouth
2 dashes Fee Brothers aromatic bitters
Fill a mixing glass halfway with ice. Add the bourbon or whiskey, vermouth and bitters. Gently stir for 20-30 seconds and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a maraschino or brandied cherry.
If you are new to drinking Manhattans, I suggest you start with bourbon since it is a little more approachable. Make sure you use a decent one such as Maker’s Mark. After you’ve grown accustomed to the bourbon Manhattan, move on to an American rye whiskey such as Sazerac Rye. The original Manhattans were made with rye whiskey, so it is only fitting that you try one that way. Or you can just use Bulleit Bourbon which is a nice compromise between the two since it is a bourbon with a high rye content (about 30%). Cheers!
We went to some friends’ house for Easter dinner and they sprung for roasted lamb, so I decided to return the favor with cocktails. Our hostess said she had some homemade limoncello on hand and I wanted to work around that and the lamb.
After pondering what would be a good prelude to lamb, I remembered this tarragon vodka from Sub Rosa Spirits made right here in Portland. After perusing Sub Rosa’s website, I found the perfect drink: the Lemon Blossom. It has limoncello in it and I thought the herbal qualities of the vodka would be perfect. I found the original recipe by Sub Rosa to be a little too tart, so I decided to back off the fresh lemon juice by half and ended up with what I think is a nicely balanced cocktail. Our hosts didn’t complain either.
1 + 1/2 oz Sub Rosa Tarragon vodka
1 oz St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz Limoncello
Fill a shaker with ice. Add the vodka, elderflower liqueur, juice and Limoncello. Cap the shaker and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Strain into a 10 oz chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.
I made this drink first at home with commercially available limoncello. It was good, but it was even better later with the homemade limoncello. If you want to go the extra mile, I suggest you make or get your hands on some of the homemade stuff. There’s a great blog post on cocktailnerd’s site with tasting notes about various limoncellos.
Also, if you want to find out where to buy Sub Rosa Tarragon vodka, visit their website for more information.
I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing worse than drinking a terrible margarita at the neighborhood Mexican restaurant. All you are able to taste is premade sour mix and you wonder if there’s any tequila in there at all.
Well, you don’t have to suffer at home if you do one important thing—ditch the “margarita mix” and treat yourself to a REAL margarita. It’s surprisingly simple to make.
2 oz Sauza Hornitos Añejo Tequila
1/2 oz Harlequin Orange Liqueur
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz agave nectar
Fill a shaker with ice. Add the tequila, orange liqueur, juices and agave nectar. Cap the shaker and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Pour (without straining) into a 12 oz double old fashioned glass with a salted rim.
You can use either Reposado or Añejo tequila, but make sure it is 100% pure agave. Otherwise, you are only getting half tequila and fillers. On the other hand, don’t use ultra premium tequila either because you can’t tell much difference with the additional ingredients. Ultra premium tequilas are meant to be sipped straight. That’s why I like to use Sauza Hornitos or a similarly priced brand.
For those of you who don’t know, agave nectar is a sweetner and can be found in the grocery aisle (usually near the honey).
Years ago I came across a recipe for basil-infused Bianco Vermouth, which makes a wonderful summertime drink by adding club soda. It seemed to me that this would also make a nice alternative to regular dry vermouth in a martini. So here it is: the Basil Martini!
3 oz Pearl Vodka
1/4 oz basil-infused Bianco Vermouth
Fill a mixing glass halfway with ice. Add the vodka and vermouth. Gently stir for 20-30 seconds and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a basil leaf and a lemon twist.
I think using basil-infused vermouth is an interesting alternative to infusing the vodka. It’s more of a throwback to a classic martini with a twist. Try it and let me know what you think.