A Manhattan has always been my cocktail of choice when I want something strong. And for years, I made Manhattans with a decent but not superb bourbon and a home-steeped-in-maraschino-and-brandy German sour cherry. For years I was a bourbon drinker, and didn't really understand all the fuss about rye.
Seems like the issue was that I needed something a little (hate to say it) more raw. My brother-in-law made the point to Mr. Potter and me last night that rye was supposed, perhaps, to be a cheap spirit--something no better than it had to be. There's something to that line of thought.
Mainly, there's this stuff:
This, friends, is Riverboat Rye. It should cost you no more than 20 bucks a bottle. It is young, unflitered (a wee bit cloudy in the glass), and really fun to drink. It actually tastes a bit like rye bread. And if you make a Manhattan with this louche spirit and garnish it with a really fancy-pants Luxardo maraschino cherry (you'll pay more for a small jar of them than for the bottle of rye, but they are really good), you will have One Fine Drink.
2 oz of Riverboat Rye
1/2 oz decent red vermouth (not Punt e Mas--too bitter)
a Luxardo maraschino soaked cherry (some booze stores stock these; they are wonderful)
OK--shake or stir? Since this spirit is a little cloudy anyway, I have no problem with the cocktail shaker here, even though the rule is that with clear drinks (no citrus or egg or milk), one does stir. I think very cold is important and the slight dilution will set the drink up nicely. So, shake the rye and vermouth over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with one delicious maraschino cherry. Note on the Luxardos, if you haven't had them before. They are not soft like the German sour cherries I keep in my fridge for drinks. They are actually mildly candied, like the siren-red cherries you get in the supermarket. But they are a deep brownish-red, and they are delicious!
I think Richard Thompson would like this drink, and I'll be playing his new record on Area 24 radio today at 4 PM. See you there!