Classic Manhattan

Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe -
Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe -

There are few things I find more satisfying during these cold months than sipping a Manhattan. It's my go-to winter drink, which means we always have a bottle of Blanton's and sweet vermouth on hand. Traditionally, rye whiskey is used, but I prefer the sweetness of bourbon over the spicy notes in rye (with that said, I was recently introduced to Basil Hayden's Dark Rye, which is blended with port, and I've become a big fan).  If you've never made a Manhattan before, it's a good drink to learn (and it's easy to remember): 2 parts whiskey to 1 part sweet vermouth (often this is 2 oz and 1 oz, but if you're having a rough day, a larger pour may be necessary), a few dashes of Angostura bitters, all of which is stirred in a glass with ice and strained into a coupe. While the spirits are the most important ingredients here, we can't forget about the garnish. Now, it may be easier and cheaper to get your hands on some of those bright red maraschino cherries you used to have in your Shirley Temples when you were a kid, but please... please... invest in the good stuff (Luxardo are available at most liquor stores or online). Yes, it's $20 for a container, but when you're only having one per drink, a jar goes a long way. Believe me, it's worth the extra money.  

Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe -
Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe -

Yield: 1 drink
Tools: Mixing glass, cocktail strainer
Glassware: 3.5 oz coupe

2 oz Rye whiskey or Bourbon
1 oz sweet vermouth
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherry, garnish (Luxardo is recommended)

Add 3-4 ice cubes to mixing glass. Add whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters and stir for 20 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with cherry. 


Bufala Negra

Humanity is a privilege, we can't give in
When they build walls, we'll build bridges
This is resistance, we're resilient
When they spread hate, we shine brilliant.

-Wednesday Morning, Macklemore

Deep down inside, I thought we wouldn't get here. I thought, hoped, that maybe it was just a bad dream. But it's not. It's our reality. And now we have to figure out how to deal with all of it. Protesting makes a statement, but I think that only does so much. I hope to do more this year, get involved with our community, to provide in some way to those in need. It requires putting ourselves out there, which, I'll admit, is something I struggle with.  But each day, it feels as if our world gets smaller and smaller and I know that each of us will be impacted by what occurs over these next four years.

I was touched by the farewell speech given by President Obama a few weeks ago.  If you didn't get a chance to watch it, I highly recommend taking some time to hear his words. This passage struck me the most.

"Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it's really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning. With our participation, and with the choices that we make, and the alliances that we forge. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. That's up to us. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured."

I'm not sure if that's leaving things on a hopeful note or not, but I figured I should at least write a little bit about why I made this cocktail. I realized that it'd been quite a while since I'd featured a drink here, so I spent a bit of time looking for inspiration online. For me, it's whiskey season (not that there's ever an end to that season), so I knew it had to include some form of that spirit. And I wanted to use vinegar. Now, I've done shrubs before (like this, this, and this) with balsamic or cider vinegar. But I thought using straight up vinegar would be unique. After a little research, I came across this Bufala Negra on The New York Times. I must admit, I was slightly skeptical of the addition of basil leaves. I shouldn't have been, because this turned out to be one spectacular and complex cocktail. It's perfectly balanced, with the balsamic to cut through any sweetness (plus, the ginger beer adds a slight kick which I loved).  I hope you all enjoy. 

Bufala Negra

The New York Times, adapted from a recipe by Jerry Slater of H. Harper Station in Atlanta

1 Drink

1/2 teaspoon turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon good aged balsamic vinegar
5 fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
2 ounces ginger beer

Add sugar, vinegar and 4 basil leaves in a cocktail shaker. Muddle for 10 seconds. Add bourbon and shake to dissolve sugar.

Strain over ice into old-fashioned glass, top with ginger beer and garnish with basil.