It being a Monday with nothing much to celebrate except a hangover from brunch with Mom yesterday, our thoughts naturally turn to a little libation to smooth the way into the workweek. And why not a Manhattan, the drink Esquire booze maestro David Wondrich calls “a crisp and darkly invigorating cocktail,” served straight up in the classiest glass we know?
Yes, it sure would be nice to be dressed like Myrna Loy with a freshly stirred Manhattan at our elbow. But according to Wondrich, there’ll be no showing off your tongue dexterity (or just how much time you’ve spent hanging around in bars) by knotting the cherry stem when you’ve finished. Nope, says the expert, a real Manhattan (as opposed to a perfect Manhattan) needs no cherry. As he says, “American whiskey is not gin and can stand a hell of lot more vermouth. And don’t forget the bitters.”
We’re with Mr. Wondrich on the bitters, especially this gorgeous-sounding blood orange version, but we do take umbrage at his cavalier disposal of the cherry. The problem is not the presence of the cherry in the drink, but the type of cherry used. Don’t poison your drink with one of those neon-red, disgusting sugar bombs sold in every supermarket as maraschino cherries. Instead, buy a pound or two of fresh cherries and make your own, no chemicals required. No cherries in your market yet? Try this recipe from the Marin Independent Journal using dried or frozen tart cherries. We’ll drink to that.