I have a good friend named Joel. Joel has a father named Jake. (Joel also has a mother, a sister, and two brothers whose names, I swear, all begin with “J”*. But that’s another story for another day.) Jake lives Upstate. I’ve never actually met Jake, though meeting him, at this point, is a mere technicality. And that’s because Jake gave me — via Joel — a gift whose worth cannot be underestimated: Jake gave me the Manhattan.

Jake, from what I understand, is a man who knows from cocktails. For years, he and his wife ran a small liquor store, now closed, on a forgotten block in downtown Syracuse; for years, under the perma-gray skies and five-foot snow drifts of central New York, he manned the register, stocked the shelves, and dropped countless tall boys and bottles of Popov into countless brown paper bags; and for years, he ended each long day with a Manhattan. (“On the rocks,” says Joel. “Canadian Club. Occasionally Black Velvet. Every night.”) Now, here’s the messed up part: when Joel told me this one day after work, as we sat and bitched about our jobs at a bar across the street from our office — in Manhattan, no less! — I didn’t know what a Manhattan was. I had never tasted one, didn’t even  know what was in it. Wasn’t it some kind of variation on the martini? Was there brandy in it? Didn’t it involve the ever-mysterious Drambuie? When I fessed up about my ignorance, Joel thought I was kidding.

He ordered me a Manhattan.

This was probably five years ago now, and Jake — my Upstate brother, my dark-spirit drinking, long-distance, medicine-loving mentor, my fellow Manhattan-ite — I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for introducing me — and Jenny, for that matter; don’t let her tell you otherwise — to the magical cold-weather concoction that is bourbon, sweet vermouth, angostura bitters, and a maraschino cherry. Thank you for showing us that there is life beyond the gin and tonic, the glass of cabernet, the Silver Bullet. Jake (can I call you Jake?), you should know that when Joel and I get together now, every month or so, we order two Manhattans on the rocks and toast you every time. In fact, when making plans to meet, I don’t ask Joel if he feels like “getting a drink tonight.” I email him and say, “Jake?” Or I ask him if he feels like “Jaking it the f@#k up tonight.” Hardly a week goes by when I don’t get an email from Joel, usually around 7 pm, just after he’s gotten home, with a one word message: Jake. Hardly a Friday goes by when I don’t text Joel a picture of a Manhattan, on the rocks, sitting on our kitchen counter: no further message required. — Andy

*Not to mention an uncle whose given name was Yogi.

The Manhattan

I don’t measure this out too carefully. Some recipes will tell you to do 2 parts bourbon (or rye, which I like, or Canadian Whisky, which kind of smells like lighter fluid to me) to one part sweet vermouth, but I find that’s a little sweet. So I usually do something closer to 3:1. Up to you. But one word of warning: One Manhattan is fantastic. Two is never a good idea.

Fill a short glass 2/3 full with ice. Add two dashes angostura bitters, sweet vermouth, and whatever bourbon you like. (I like Buffalo Trace and Maker’s.) Add maraschino cherry. (I usually crush it against the side of glass with a spoon, to release some of that red dye number two!) Stir. Jake!

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A great reward after a particularly hard evening of trying to get two picky kids to eat something healthy.


I prefer the Old-fashioned, introduced to me by my father-in-law as his family’s traditional Christmas Cocktail. Plus, I never have sweet vermouth around.

Approx 1 TBSP brown sugar, 2 dashes bitters, cherry — mix till sugar is dissolved, mashing cherry is okay. Add bourbon and ice and mix well; top with a dash of water and garnish with orange slice.


I love a good Manhattan but admit, I never think to make it at home! I’m also a big fan of a Sezerac this time of year!

Oh, and I made the pork shoulder ragu on Saturday. LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! Thanks for another keeper!


My dad (LOVE him) and my husband drink manhattans all the time. They insist that you have to let it sit five minutes before drinking. My husband likes a Kentucky bourbon called Woodford Reserve. Hubs was a bartender when I met him and he didn’t serve near as many Manhattans as he did Cosmopolitans, but I ask you – Where’s the Cosmo now? The Manhattan will be around forever!


833 am on a bleak winter day in Denver. Now I at least have something to look forward to . . . Manhattan tonight? I believe I will!


Once I arrived at a party in a bad mood. A friend looked at me and said, “You need a Manhatten.” He disappeared into the crowd, returned with a good mood in a glass, and it remains my go-to cocktail. Viva Manhatten!


My husband’s favorite drink! However he actually prefers it as a “Rob Roy” — with scotch instead of bourbon!


cannot wait to try this yummy drink idea but I feel like I should apply red lipstick before doing so……..


A little angostura bitters trivia. Frank Morgan, who played the wizard in the original Wizard of Oz, real name was Fank Wupperman. The Wupperman family was the first to bring and distribute angostura bitters in the New York. Maybe he couldn’t help Dorothy, but those bitters sure have brought a lot of joy to the rest of us!


I’ve never tried one but I will soon! My Manhattan story involves my husband’s grandfather and his sister, great Aunt Ruth. The first time I met them they were on their second Manhattan EACH. GrandPaul leans over and says to Ruth, “Ruth, can I have your cherry?”. She smiles and replied, “Sorry Paul, I gave it away years ago.”


Catharine — I think Canadian whisky can contain rye (it’s a whisky blend), but it’s not rye, no. Could have that wrong, though.


I was so hoping this was the recipe for a Canadian dry Manhattan, not the sweet one that was my grandmother’s favorite. My husband learned about the Canadian dry Manhattan from an older colleague. He made it for my father, who developed a great fondness for it. It is made straight up with a twist in a stem glass. The basic recipe is 2 jiggers of Canadian Club with a splash of dry vermouth. The twist is lemon and for it to taste really great you need one of those metal shaker. It’s wonderful, but you really can only have one.


Penny! Come on by!!! What is Kelly’s drink? We will be sure to have all ingredients on hand!


Already making plans to have this on Friday night (and it’s only Monday!). Thanks for the recipe and I’m a fan of rye too so I’ll make it with that.


Good to know! Thanks, Andy. I had one tonight. (made with Canadian Club. Yum.)
Sarah –great story!


This was my dad’s favorite drink and anytime my mom would ask for a second he would say “watch yourself Dot!, It’s a strong drink!” Makes her mad to this day. He would make them sweet, shake them with ice and serve them straight up. So good! When will it be 5 pm?

Dang, I came here looking for the pork chop and kale recipe and now I’m distracted.

Joe Magarac

For the record, Canadian Club is NOT rye whiskey. Here’s the deal:

Most bourbons today are made with bourbon whiskey. Bourbon is mostly corn whiskey (2/3 or more) and has a sweet taste for that reason.

Some bourbons today are made with Canadian whisky. Canadian whiskys are made with about 1/2 corn whiskey and 1/2 rye and barley whiskies. They are not as sweet as bourbon and have a light, smooth quality.

In the old days, Manhattans were made with rye whiskey, which US law says must contain 51% rye. This whiskey is “heaven in a glass and hell in your mouth”: it is spicy and fiery.

Manhattans are good using any of these three whiskeys. But they are also different – a bourbon Manhattan is much sweeter than a rye Manhattan, and a Canadian whisky Manhattan is somewhere in between.


Love Manhattans (and Rob Roys) – I have to say that my favorite version of a Manhattan is with Amaro (specifically Amaro Montenegro) instead of sweet vermouth. It gives you the bitters and the sweetness.


This really made me laugh – I have a mom, a dad, and a brother with all J names, as well as a husband and son with J names. I believe that my parents gave us J names on purpose (to propagate the J situation I guess) but my husband and I didn’t do it on purpose, I swear 🙂 For some reason, growing up, our family pets never had J names.


Thanks, Joe! I am Canadian and I always thought rye was just our name for what you guys call Canadian whisky. I’m off to buy bourbon!


“Two is never a good idea.” How perfect is that statement. I am always thinking that after the second one……


went out on a hunt for maraschino cherries after reading this. I am so in the mood for one of these now! but alas, no shops downtown had the cherries. 🙁
guess I’ll have to dig out my car to drive to the liquor store.


Truly amazing! I follow the recipe with Makers 3 to 1 sweet Vermouth. Love it! But the dry Vermouth, canadian, and a lemon previously posted sounds good… i’ll stick to my Makers. Thanks.


The only way I’ve ever liked bourbon of any type was in eggnog or a friend’s sauce for bread pudding. I prefer Irish whiskey drinks, with a special place for Irish Coffee.

But I’m fascinated by Joel, and his father Jake, and the other Js in the family. I wonder if they had relatives in the Chicago area? I went to school with a girl named June, one of six kids, all of whose names began with J.

How odd.


Our family – yes I come from a line of Manhattan drinkers – prefer this recipe:
2 bourbon
1 sweet vermouth
1 tbsp cherry juice (count 1.2.3 as pouring in shaker)
shake together and serve over ice with a couple cherries.
It is sooooo delicious!!


hmmm. I have always though that CC was rye. Its always been the go..to when stocking up. I guess I’m going to have to get out of the wine section of my local “hook-up” and take a stroll down the whiskey aisle. Rye whiskey, scotch whiskey-it’s all to confusing. No wonder I hardly ever stray from the vodka and ceasars.
Here’s a weird one for you….One night I was out of wine and only had some vodka and well…started mixing things and this was the result. And it’s become my signature drink. I thought it was just mine but there are times I get texts and random calls from people wanting the “recipe” while in the grocery store or liquor store after I’ve come home from an out of town visit. It’s a “chick” drink though

Tall glass
fill with ice (not crushed)
1 shot vodka or a bit more….
1 shot white choc liqueur
top up glass with Ocean Spray Pomogranete grapefruit juice (NOT DIET)..though supplier hasn’t produced any lately so I have been known to use pomogranete blueberry juice and add a good pink grapefruit juice that you have tasted before because most have that awful pithy taste.

I even had a bar tender in a resort in mexico make it for me. Cause I was so bored with all the sun and surf. He thought I was a “loco canadian” but there are times a margaretta is just olddddd.