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Manhattans in the UK

The Manhattan is my latest obsession and as much of a fan of Bourbon as I am, it only really works for me with Rye - I guess as it should be drunk.

The problem is that I'm in the UK and the choice is poor. So far I have really enjoyed it with Templeton (picked up from SF), probably one of my favourite American Whiskies. More recently I have used High West Double and been more than happy. Now I am looking at the other options easily available to me:

Rittenhouse
Pikesville
Wild Turkey
Riverboat
Redemption (incl High)
Smooth Ambler 7 year

Any of these worth trying, or to be avoided, in a Manhattan?

On vermouth, I really like Cocchi di Torino but also saw that I can get VYA Sweet vermouth. Is this considered a good one in the US for a Manhattan?

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  1. Haven't tried Vya Sweet, but I've heard good things about it (had a bottle of their Dry that I used in Martinis--quite good). My go-to sweet vermouth (for Manhattans & Negronis) is Punt e Mes--not sure how available that is where you are.

    What about the third essential ingredient: the bittters? Can you find Angostura easily?

    3 Replies
    1. re: TVHilton

      Thanks for that. Should have mentioned that I have an unopened bottle of Punt e Mes which I shall be trying after the Cocchi has finished! It's readily available and even cheaper than the Cocchi

      Bitters I'm good with. Always have a bottle of Angostura but have experimented with others. Recently bought The Bitter Truth travellers set with 5 sample bottles form their range. My fave, more than Angostura, is Creole bitters. Also use their Aromatic and Jerry Thomas own Decanter bitters for a change

      1. re: ASingh

        Excellent. I mostly stick to the traditional (Angostura), but sometimes substitute orange bitters for a nice variation.

        1. re: TVHilton

          Yeah, I used to occasionally use Angostura's orange bitter but after I finished I replaced with Fee Brothers and it does not do it for me. Have not tried Regans

    2. I can vouch for the Wild Turkey Rye it is really very good.
      As for Vermouth do you have access to Carpano Antica it would be my first choice.

      4 Replies
      1. re: chefj

        Antica is widely available but pricey. Other problem is the rate I drink Manhattans and spoilage issues with vermouth going past its best. I also love a Negroni and have been using the Cocchi for that but think Antica is too much for a Negroni

        1. re: ASingh

          I would say the the Antica is the most desirable for a Manhattan and the cost per drink(at least here) is not that dear.

        2. re: chefj

          I prefer Carpano Classico, available in the EU, but not so much here in the USA. The Antico just overwhelms the Manhattan IMHO. I even prefer Martini Vermouth to Antico.

          1. re: StriperGuy

            I find just the opposite. Martini does not hold up in a Manhattan.
            to each their own

        3. I personally think one of the best Manhattans is:

          2 oz. Rittenhouse rye
          .75 oz. Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth
          2 dashes of Angostura bitters

          Stirred on ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass with either a lemon or orange peel oil expressed onto the cocktail and dropped in as garnish.

          I also like Redemption, but sometimes go with a less bold sweet vermouth like Dolin Rouge.

          I don't care too much for Vya, but haven't had it in a few years and its a product that did change over the first few years on the market.

          8 Replies
          1. re: JMF

            I can get standard Rittenhouse and an ovenproof version. Is the latter the best bet?

            I guess you reached to this ratio through some trial and error. Does a slightly smaller vermouth measure provide a better balance?

            1. re: ASingh

              We only have 100 proof Rittenhouse here.

              I keep all my vermouth in a small, very cold fridge and break it down into small, full bottles and it stays good for many months.

              That ratio is one that works very well for me in Manhattans and martinis, as well as a starting point for many of my cocktail recipes.

            2. re: JMF

              If you're going the the vanilla in the Antica, why not round it out with a Luxardo cherry? Doesn't mean you can express your peel to, but cherry and vanilla seems like a natural combo.

              1. re: EvergreenDan

                I personally find the Luxardo cherries too candied. I like the Filthy Food's black cherries myself.

              2. re: JMF

                Personally I am a fan of Vya. It has a warm spice note (cinnamon, maybe clove) that I really find appealing in a Manhattan, as opposed to the vanilla flavor found in the Carpano Antica.

                I'm also generally a Punt e Mes fan, but not in a Manhattan. The sharp bitterness ruins the drink for me.

                  1. re: davis_sq_pro

                    I only use the Carpano with Rittenhouse. That works for me. But I don't use the Carpano very much in other cocktails because of the vanilla note which can get overwhelming.

                    I'll have to try the Vya again and see how it has progressed over the years. I think I last tried it in 2006/7 and didn't think much of it.

                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                      Maybe I will give VYA a go, as it sounds quite appealing. I get similar notes from The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters which is why I like substituting it for Angostura