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Jun 29, 2011 01:10 PM

A gallon of Manhattans!

Hi. I'm planning a picnic for 30 in a park where they will be screening the Woody Allen classic MANHATTAN. I have 2 1 gallon coolers, 2 1 liter bottles of Bulleit Rye, a bottle of Dolin Vermouth and I plan to buy some bitters. I'm thinking of mixing it all in a pitcher and cooling it in the fridge before pouring it into the cooler. I'll have ice in the other cooler. Anyone have advice on the proportions? Also, lots of my guests will not be regular Manhattan drinkers. That said, should I cut up some ripe strawberries and toss them into the cooler? Is that a sin? Should I have orange peels on hand?


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  1. I don't normally think of a Manhattan as a summer time drink. It is intended to be a potent spirit-forward cocktail. I would be sure to have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks, like ice-cold seltzer.

    A good starting ratio is 2 parts rye (or bourbon) to 1 part sweet vermouth, so you may want a bit more vermouth. If it's hot, I'd go with more vermouth, or maybe a bit of dry vermouth, to keep the proof down. Including a bit of dry vermouth would make it similar to a perfect Manhattan (which is equal parts sweet and dry), but here the purpose would be to lower the proof of the drink without making it sweeter or less flavorful.

    Ordinarily when pre-chilling a cocktail, you add water to compensate for the ice that would melt during stirring or shaking. If the drink is going to be enjoyed outside on a hot day, I would probably skip this, because the ice will start out wet and melt plenty quickly in the heat.

    I would definitely include bitters. Angostura will be fine. Dash them out 1 dash per 1.5 oz of rye/vermouth mixture (2 dashes per drink).

    A cherry is the standard garnish. If you can't get good cherries, such as Luxardo, I'd skip it. I don't care for the neon-red ones. Leave the strawberries in the patch. An orange twist would be a viable, if nontraditional garnish.

    Some of your guest may not be used to a whiskey-forward cocktail. You might provide another safe choice, like a cold white wine or homemade Sangria. Alternatively, you could ask ahead of time to get a more accurate head count. The quantity of ingredients that you have should make about 30 drinks.

    Good luck! Let us know how it turns out. I shudder to think what the cocktail might have been for Sleeper, what with the Orgasmatron and all....

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    1. I'd vote "no" on the strawberries (I'm not even a huge fan of the classic added maraschino).
      Also not a fan of pre-mixing and having the manhattans sit, like gatorade on a football bench. Kudos on the choice of vermouth, though!

      3 Replies
      1. re: pinehurst

        Nothing wrong with batching Manhattans, and with 30 guests there isn't much choice. Some bartenders are cask aging them. I did worry a bit about the plastic in the cooler, but I'm guessing it will be ok if well-washed first and after.

        OTOH, putting Manhattans in a football bench cooler might be enough to get me to join a league. ;-)

        1. re: EvergreenDan

          Yeah, I too kind of worry re. the plastic. The other thing is, as you mentioned, it's not a "picnic" drink, like a good light red (or chilled white), or sangria, or even lemonade. I agree that it's more of a cold weather (and for me, anticipating-a-nice-steak) kind of drink.

          But the Manhattan is such a great cocktail, I guess I'm happy to see it being imbibed (even if it is out of a plastic jug...shudder).

          1. re: EvergreenDan

            thanks everyone for all the advice! looking forward to the big picnic...

        2. I like the neon cherries, and to sweeten it a little, I put some of the cherry juice in the drink. I am more of a 4 to 1 person, but they are a drink that people like THEIR way. :) I am a seagram's 7 fan, myself. Looking at your shopping list, is 2 liters of rye enough for 30 people?

          7 Replies
          1. re: barbaract

            The OP has 93 oz of ingredients, plus any extra vermouth that might be added. That's 31 generous 3-oz-plus-dilution drinks, assuming only the 750ml bottle of vermouth is used. Personally, I'd add another 250ml of sweet vermouth and maybe 250ml of dry vermouth to try to reduce the proof a bit, given the service conditions.

            If you like it a bit sweeter, try upping the vermouth. You might like it, and I'd think it would be tastier than the syrup the neon cherries come in, no?

            1. re: EvergreenDan

              I stand corrected. One drink for each person. Never tried having just one...........:) Don't knock the syrup until you have tried it, Or...........have you ever tried one with a lemon twist, no cherry? Very good.

              1. re: barbaract

                StriperGuy won't let me use anything except homemade cherries. He knows where I live. Scared. ;)

                I think an orange or lemon twist would be a fine alternative garnish. I thought of orange on the theory that orange bitters might sometimes have been used.

                1. re: EvergreenDan

                  I just remembered where I had the lemon twist. It was at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                    A lemon twist is a classic garnish for a Manhattan.

                    1. re: JMF

                      Really? For a perfect Manhattan, sure. But for a regular (sweet) Manhattan, that surprises me. Source?

                    2. re: EvergreenDan

                      Hah, for sure, I'll send the cocktail police over and bust you.

              2. Gallon Manhattan, I'll take one, but only one.;o)