I’d never heard of a Manhattan and the flavor profile was beyond my reach at that moment though the color, the aroma, the look of the glass in our hands reminded me of the chic presentation of smoking in the 50’s driving everyone to do it. It seemed sleek and cool. Little did I know after spending a decade devoted to Gin and Tonic’s I’d loop back to reacquaint myself with the Manhattan and from that point there would be no other I’d call ‘my favorite cocktail’ (I do flirt with others during the summer but they are merely warm weather flings).
There are variations on this recipe with specificity given to the whiskey brand, whether to shake or stir, all accompanied with deep debate on the merits and flaws of all. This is how I’ve made them for years with sound results.
I will note in the process of making the recipe I had my first involuntary flambé experience. Speaking to a departing friend at the door and I let the liqueur simmer too long (or perhaps the gas flame licked up the side of the saucepan to ignite the contents). Next thing I knew I had a 2 foot high flame and no clue how to tame it. Keep your eye on the liqueur when simmering if you make it! This recipe takes maybe 10 minutes plus 2 days refrigeration time.
I did not adapt Melissa’s recipe so I will not post it here but will provide a link so you may make them too (great holiday gift or hostess gift idea!): Melissa Clark’s Maraschino Cherry recipe from the NYT.