Friday Night Manhattans

Friday Night Manhattans

Since James Bond’s iconic order for a martini “shaken, not stirred,” shaking has been the prevailing means of mixing drinks, allowing for a fast and effective means of preparing any amount of drinks with the flair we come to expect from mixologists.  Both shaking and stirring allow you to achieve a cool, mixed drink through the transfer of heat from the ingredients to the ice.  During the process, some of the ice melts.  The resulting water is often said to be the unwritten ingredient in every drink by lowering the alcohol’s proof and rounding out the flavor of its ingredients.

For Christmas this year, Adam gave me “Liquid Intelligence” by Dave Arnold.  Much more than recipes, it explains the science behind mixology and offers various experiments throughout for you to test his theories. One of his theories is that certain drinks should be shaken, and some should be stirred.  He suggests you make two recipes for a Manhattan—one shaken, one stirred—and see if you can tell the difference.  One night, in the name of science, we did just that.  Right off the bat, we picked out the stirred recipe as our favorite.  The flavors seemed more crisp, clean, and straightforward.

Assuming you stop shaking and stirring when the ingredients reach the same temperature, there should be no difference in the amount of dilution.  Where shaking differs from stirring is that the shaking action also aerates the ingredients, resulting in a lighter texture and flavor.  The ingredients in a Manhattan tend to be thicker and richer, such that shaking them alters their flavors, where stirring allows them to come through as they are.  Try both ways and see what you prefer but remember that you may react differently with a different recipe.

You may also want to try two recipes—one with rye and one with Bourbon—and see if you have a preference there too.  Please understand that I am from Kentucky and loves me some Bourbon, but we tend to prefer rye for this particular recipe. Although any rye works (Old Overholt and Rittenhouse are excellent wallet-friendly options), we love Willett rye in this recipe. The Willett Distillery is still family owned, which is rare in the bourbon business, and makes relatively small batches, so they're a good bunch to support.    

Finally, pay attention to your cherry garnishes.  If you only have the kind that go on ice cream sundaes, hold the fruit.  We make our own cherries but also like Luxardo brand (Note:  do not refrigerate them), and for some reason, we always use two in each glass.  If you add some of the cherry syrup, even better.

Recipe:  Friday Night Manhattans

Makes 2.

4 oz. Willett rye

2 oz. Camparo Antico vermouth

12 drops barrel aged orange bitters (or 6 drops Angostura)


Stir the ingredients over ice for 10 seconds.  Strain into coupe glasses.  Garnish with two cherries.