The Manhattan Cocktail

Consumatorium Classic Cocktails - The Manhattan

The Manhattan Cocktail is one of the most recognized cocktail names, with a recipe that has remained largely stable for a hundred years. It is a strong drink – too strong for those who primarily drink wine and beer – and it amplifies rather than softens the flavor of the whiskey that is its base. The Manhattan is among the easiest cocktails to make, so it is de rigueur for your home cocktail repertoire.

Our Preferred Manhattan Recipe

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  • 2 oz 80-proof Rye whiskey
  • 1 oz Italian (sweet) Vermouth
  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters
  • Maraschino cherry garnish

Add the rye, vermouth, and bitters to a glass or shaker half-full of ice. Stir until very cold, about 40 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and spoon the cherry in.

Consumatorium Classic Cocktails - The Manhattan Cocktail

Consumatorium Recommends for The Manhattan Cocktail

  • Bulleit Rye is a good quality, reasonably priced rye. Whistlepig is a step up, but is considerably more expensive and is also 100-proof, giving a strong drink even more punch.
  • Carpano Antica is our recommended Italian (sweet) vermouth. It is significantly more expensive than other brands, but worth it.
  • Angostura bitters are the classic ingredient here, and we recommend them for this drink, but many other bitters can produce nice variations.
  • We recommend Luxardo cherries; include some syrup when you spoon the cherry in.

The Manhattan is just dry enough to be served as an aperitif, though it is a bit strong for that purpose. It is excellent fare at a cocktail party and goes well with appetizers. It is too strong and flavorful to drink with dinner, and should not be served as a digestif. In general, serve Manhattans earlier in the evening.

Though the conical cocktail glass is the preferred container, a coupe will also suffice. For those less comfortable with strong drinks, a Manhattan can be served on the rocks in an Old-Fashioned glass. This both dilutes the drink and keeps it colder, reducing its punch. Similarly, a shaken Manhattan is slightly more diluted and usually retains a head of ice chips, keeping it colder. While these variations are not the standard, they are not at all objectionable if you or a guest find them more enjoyable.

There are many common variations on the ingredients, even within a rigid template. Any whiskey can substitute for the rye; if you use scotch whisky it is called a Rob Roy but otherwise it is still considered a Manhattan variation. For many years rye was largely unavailable and Manhattans frequently were (and still are) made with bourbon. Substitutions of other base liquors (such as rum, brandy, or tequila) are popular but are really separate drinks in their own right.

A common modification is to replace some or all of the Italian vermouth with French (dry) vermouth. Half-and-half is a Perfect Manhattan and all dry is a Dry Manhattan. These modifications create a pleasing color change and make the drink more appropriate as an apertif. The Dry Manhattan is sometimes garnished with a lemon twist. Substituting other fortified wines (such as Dubonnet or Lillet Rouge) is more suspect in preserving the identity of the drink but are certainly enjoyable variations.

The bitters can be more freely substituted, as long as they are dark and aromatic; Peychaud’s, Cynar, Fernet, or even an amaro can serve quite well and provide a distinct change in the flavor. However, grapefruit, orange, or lavender bitters render its conformity uncertain and might not please your guests if they expect something particular.

Except in the case of the Dry Manhattan, do not substitute for the cherry. Along with the color, it is the signature of the Manhattan and a substitution will cause your guests to wonder whether you confused their order.

Why You Will Like The Manhattan Cocktail
The Manhattan is a strong and satisfying drink that has been popular for more than a century, for good reason. It highlights the whiskey while providing additional flavors and  a slight sweetness. It is easy to make, and if you are only having one drink, it will keep you in a good mood for the entire evening. Even in an unsophisticated bar, the bartender can usually make a Manhattan correctly.

Guest Post from a Pro: Punch

Jeff Grindley was our masterful bartender at Atomic Liquors in Las Vegas last month. Our review of our great visit to the bar is here. Jeff kindly volunteered to write a guest post for us and chose a topic we’ve left sorely uncovered – punches. So, here’s some advice on how to make easy punches at home from a pro. Thanks, Jeff!

Punch Bowl - Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels BlogWhen it comes to the love of libations, there’s so much overlap between the home bartender and the working bartender. We enjoy seeing people happy, have a desire to share what we’ve learned with others and, let’s face it, we like to be the center of attention; the life of the party! The overlap doesn’t stop there, since life doesn’t ever go exactly as planned. Some nights you just aren’t up to the task at hand, but the party must go on!

Thankfully, behind the bar, we have a secret weapon for such occasions that is a knock out every time (I couldn’t resist!), the PUNCH. Or as I like to call it: The twinkle in the eye of humanity that gave birth to the cocktail. Punch has been around, at least, since spice traders of East India Trading Co. started softening their harsh spirits with tea, juices, and any spices that they encountered on their travels. Punch continues to lift the spirit of the guests and host alike with its soulful simplicity. Pleasing the many with delicious and dazzling dram that serves itself and can be thrown together with minimal effort. In addition, it gives you the ability to finally use some of that stuff that has been haunting the dark corners of the liquor cabinet since you graduated college (has it been THAT long?!). Punch is so easy, that if you lose the recipe in the stormy seas of bartending, there is an easy rhyme that will guide you right back to dry land!

“One of Sour
Two of Sweet
Three of Strong
Four of weak”

Notice the “four” of weak part. Punch should be social and lead to long conversations around the bowl, not long conversations with the porcelain one. The strength should be equal to a fortified wine; not too strong.

I’ve included two punches that come straight out of one of the best programs in cocktail education that I’ve had the pleasure of receiving, BARSMARTS.COM. These templates encourage testing, tasting, and tampering. Examples of this would be: substituting sugar for liqueurs, swapping out water for tea, and adding bitters. Also, use an ice block in the cold punch for minimal dilution but optimal temperature. Let the dilution happen in the cup by pouring over fresh ice in the cup! Keep the hot punch in a crock pot to keep it nice and warm. Take the night off and relax by the fire or in the pool all night long, saving the stress for another day.

Hot Whiskey Punch, (Irish and Scottish) 

  • 750 ml Irish Whiskey
  • 1 Lemon
  • 2 oz Sugar
  • 1-1/2 qts water

Peel a lemon, trying to get as little as possible of the white pith. In a heatproof bowl, pot or jug, muddle the peel of the lemon in 2 ounces of sugar. Set a quart and a half of water to boil. Add about 8 ounces of the boiling water to the sugar and stir well. This should warm up the bowl and dissolve the sugar. Add a 750 ml bottle of Irish whiskey, or Scotch for Scottish Punch, then add the rest of the water, tasting as you go to make sure that it does not become too diluted. The Punch should be kept warm for service; a Crockpot or a heatproof bowl on a hot plate should do the trick. Yield: 9 cups

Brandy Punch

  • 1 qt Brandy
  • 4 Lemons
  • 8 oz Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup fine-grained Sugar
  • Grated nutmeg
  • 2 qts water

Peel 4 lemons, trying to get as little as possible of the white pith. Muddle the peels in one cup of fine grained raw sugar. After the lemon oil has been extracted by the sugar, (this process generally takes half an hour to an hour) muddle again and remove the skins. Add 8 ounces of lemon juice and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add one quart Brandy and two quarts cool water. Grate some fresh nutmeg on top. Yield: 9 cups

Consumatorium Reviews: Craft Cocktail Bars in Sarasota Florida

Sarasota Craft Cocktail Bars

Who knew that Sarasota was a Mecca for craft cocktail bars? We didn't even have time to hit all the great bars in town during our brief stay. That's not to say that we didn't try. Someone really needs to find a reliable hangover cure or maybe we just … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: Atomic Liquors in Las Vegas

Atomic Liquors - Las Vegas

Atomic Liquors is located at 917 Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. Originally built in 1945 as a café, Atomic became the first freestanding bar in Las Vegas in 1952. The bar was named for the time when its patrons watched atomic blasts taking … [Continue reading]

Mexican Firing Squad

Mexican Standoff - Consumatorium

I ran across the Mexican Firing Squad while perusing a few cocktail blogs and was surprised I hadn't heard of it earlier. Apparently, it's a classic, having appeared in Charles H. Baker Jr's Gentleman's Companion, Volume II first printed in 1946. He … [Continue reading]

The New Classic Cocktail Page is Live!

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Many of our readers have asked for an easier to use Classic Cocktail page, While we still have a few tweaks to add, the new page is up and running. You can find it here and always in the menu right below the logo. While many of the classics are … [Continue reading]

Peat Wash – A Smoky Whiskey Cocktail

Peat Wash

Sometimes, drinks taste better in my imagination than they do once I make them. This was true for this drink when I started. While making some cocktails the other night, I thought it would be interesting to combine a smooth and balanced Rye drink … [Continue reading]

Juicy Mix and Match Cocktail Recipe

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This cocktail recipe allows you to mix and match a large variety of liqueurs and juices to make many different drinks all using the same recipe and base spirit. Frequently, I have guests or family members who like juicy drinks. Those that aren't … [Continue reading]

Ice Spheres

Ice Spheres

Spherical ice has been de rigueur for the last year or so, although not readily adopted by home bartenders. So what's all the fuss about? Is it worth the effort? Does it affect the drink? Consumatorium lab personnel donned our lab coats to bring our … [Continue reading]

Stocking Up

A nice selection of $20-a-bottle mixing whiskies

I recently changed residences, and my new home - which will not surprise anyone - has a really nice bar. I had allowed my liquor inventory to deplete prior to the move, in part because there would be less to move, but also because the additional … [Continue reading]

Thanksgiving Apple Cider Brandy Punch

Thanksgiving Apple Cider Punch

Yeah, we know. Why didn't we tell you about this a few days ago? It turns out that we were enjoying this punch so much, typing became difficult. This punch is easy to make and, as test results from Thanksgiving indicate, enjoyed by all. Even those … [Continue reading]

Infusion Lessons

This is the infusion experiment after putting the peaches and liquor in the jars.

With all the success Will has had making infusions, I figured "how hard could it be," and endeavored to do some tests with Colorado's favorite fruit, the Palisade Peach. In particular I decided to try infusing several different base liquors with … [Continue reading]

The Paloma Cocktail – Margarita’s More Popular Cousin

Paloma

According to the Washington Post, a self-proclaimed authority on such things, the Paloma Cocktail is even more popular than the Margarita in Mexico. I don't know anything about that, but it is una muy buena bebida and a perfect summer cooler for … [Continue reading]

Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender’s Guide

Old Mr. Boston

My wife found this book in a local used book store. The 1957 edition and what appears to be the 11th printing. The inside cover of the book states,  "Become a Magician - Learn 74 Unique tricks to mystify and entertain your customers and friends." The … [Continue reading]

Pineapple-Vanilla Margarita

Pineapple-Vanilla Margarita

Our most popular post since we started the Consumatorium is our recipe for making Pineapple and Vanilla Infused Tequila. Now that summer is here, it's getting viewed by loads of happy home bartenders and drinkers daily. In the post, we describe how … [Continue reading]

The Darquiri

The Darquiri

Simply put, this is a "Dark Daiquiri," portmanteaud for sake of simpler reference. I can't claim credit for the daiquiri nor a daiquiri made with dark rum. About the only thing I can take credit for here is a specific ratio of specific daiquiri … [Continue reading]

Deep Eddy Ruby Red and Soda

Deep Eddy Ruby Red and Soda

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Easy Infusions and Sample Cocktails

Plum Assignment

Will has posted numerous times on infusions and I have to say I was nervous to try it myself. It seemed like a big production. Then I realized I mainly didn't want to blow a whole bottle of liquor on some science experiment, and the epiphany followed … [Continue reading]

Mai Tai Time

Mai Tai

If you’re like me, Mai Tais are a treat enjoyed only when dining at a Polynesian or Chinese restaurant. Those Mai Tais, as you would expect from the establishment where they are made, are generally laced with overpowering Mai Tai or sweet and sour … [Continue reading]

Green Hornet

Green Hornet

Our recent post on Fernet and Coke got me thinking about what other warm weather drinks I could mix up using the lesser used bottles in the back of my liquor cabinet. Since I love the smell and taste of Green Chartreuse, but don’t use it in cocktails … [Continue reading]

Fernet and Coke

Fernet and Coke

I ran across a "recipe" (more of an idea since it's so simple) for Fernet and Coke a while back. It called for 2 full ounces of Fernet mixed with a few ounces of coke. As I’ve discussed before, Fernet-Branca is an Italian digestif that has an … [Continue reading]

Rosé is the new Albariño

Planeta Rosé on Leslie's patio

Did you know that rosé is the new Albariño?  Ok, not really, but it is when it comes to my backyard patio. A few years ago I discovered Albariño and it seemed to me the perfect summer patio wine.  Light.  Crisp.  A little fruity and pleasantly … [Continue reading]

So Many Rums. Which One Do I Use . . .

Rum Comparison

In my daily run to the liquor store today, I noticed that the Rum section is becoming almost as overwhelming as the Vodka section. Rums from different countries; with a variety of alcohol content; dark, light, medium color; 100% pure cane sugar or . … [Continue reading]

Storing Citrus

Progressive Produce Keeper

One of the challenges for the home bartender is that keeping fresh ingredients on hand is more difficult, since (hopefully) you do not use them as fast as a public bar does. We've previously discussed keeping vermouth and certain other ingredients … [Continue reading]

Gin and Tonic with Blueberry Mead

G&T with Blueberry Mead

The other day, I met with Ash Fischbein and Matt Trahan, the founders of Sap House Meadery in Ossippee, NH. Yeah, that's mead, as in honey wine, the ancestor of almost all fermented drinks. These guys have done a great job building their business and … [Continue reading]

Four Need-to-Know Margaritas

Margarita

There are about 42,000 margarita recipes out there and that doesn't even count the frozen varieties or the ones you can buy pre-made in a jug at the grocery store. While many of these are tasty, like our own Pomegranate Margarita and Ginger … [Continue reading]

American Trilogy

American Trilogy

The American Trilogy is decidedly not a classic cocktail. Created in 2007 at New York's Little Branch bar, it's a relatively new drink with a name that is a bit of a conundrum. While it's primary ingredients, Rye and Laird's Apple Brandy are truly … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: Craft Cocktail Bars in Copenhagen, Denmark

Rapscallion at Ruby

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Daiquiri

The IBA standard Daiquiri  with a 9:5:3 ratio.

After I wrote the post on the Whiskey Sour, and having learned a bit more about the Sour family, I decided to dive into the Daiquiri. It's a classic cocktail, of course, invented early in the 20th century. The Daiquiri is apparently the namesake of a … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: Pharmarium in Stockholm, Sweden

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For most of our readers, Stockholm is not part of the usual pub crawl circuit. That, however, doesn’t keep the Consumatorium team from covering all the bases for our international and traveling followers. And what better bar for us to cover than the … [Continue reading]

Whiskey Sour

The Whiskey Sour is a classic cocktail that you've probably never really had.

There are five distinct components of the sense of taste: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and savory. The cocktail repertoire covers all of these in various ways. Today we're going to talk about sours and, in particular, the Whiskey sour. The Sour family … [Continue reading]

Cocktail a la Louisiane – The Best Classic Drink You’ve Never Heard Of

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This drink is more commonly known as the a la Louisiane or just la Louisiane these days. That is, of course, if you can find a bartender who has even heard of it. When a friend recently took me to Tavern Road, the terrific craft bar in Boston, the … [Continue reading]

A Pair of Green Cocktails for St. Patrick’s Day

St Patricks Day Green Drinks

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King Cole Cocktail

King Cole

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while might recall the amaro comparo we did a while back, Amari Throwdown. In it I stated that Fernet-Branca was, "awful . . . just awful." So you might be surprised that I'm posting about a drink … [Continue reading]

Dog Sled Accident

My own version with high-rye bourbon and Amaro Chiocharo

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Barrel Aging Cocktails – Part II

Barrel Aging Cocktails

Note: This is the second part of a series on aging cocktails in oak barrels. You can find the first part here. A few months ago, I started the process of aging cocktails in barrels. That's not just the spirits themselves, but the entire mixed … [Continue reading]

Mi Amore

Mi Amore

If the French 75 that we posted about yesterday isn’t your valentine’s thing, you may want to offer up this rose-red, sweet cocktail that we came up with. The Mi Amore or My Love. A perfect gift to give if you forgot to get flowers on the way home … [Continue reading]

Valentine’s Day Cocktail – The French 75

French 75 Cocktail

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1,001 Cocktail Ideas: Improvising with Three Ingredients

The New Orange is a great example of a three ingredient cocktail.

Lately I've been posting most of my cocktail activities on Twitter - you can find out what's going on by searching for #consumatorium. And I encourage all of you to use the same hashtag to post your own adventures! I've been mostly playing with … [Continue reading]

Home Made Amaretto-Maraschino Cherries–Or Not

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If you’re still using store bought Maraschino cherries – those unreally bright red, sickly-sweet ones that you used to enjoy with your Shirley Temple when you were a kid – you need to read this article about how much high fructose corn syrup and red … [Continue reading]

Video: How to do an Absinthe Wash

Absinthe Wash Video

Sometimes, you just want the essence of the spirit you’re using in a drink. If you’re just looking for the aromatics of a mixer or to keep a strong-tasting liqueur from overwhelming a drink, just a little goes a long way. Of course, you can just try … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: Wine Clubs

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Wine is an important component of the home bartender's repertoire. When hosting a cocktail or dinner party, there will invariably be some guests who prefer wine over hard liquor. Further, though highballs can be appropriate for dinner, generally wine … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: Hawaiian Craft Cocktail Culture

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Hook, Line & Sinker at the Four Seasons Wailea I recently visited Maui with my family – everyone’s of drinking age – and we went on a quest to check out bars and restaurants around Weilea, a resort area of Maui. We fully expect to find menus … [Continue reading]

Ginger Margarita

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Caramba! This is a good one. It is adapted from the recipe booklet that comes with the Domaine de Canton, and if you like a marg you will enjoy this cocktail. At first sniff and sip, I thought it might be another "too much Mezcal" drink, but no. And … [Continue reading]

Monkey Gland

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Continuing with our Classics series, I mixed up a Monkey Gland the other night. It's a fine cocktail, probably more appropriate for spring but that didn't stop me from consuming every last drop. It has its origins in the 1920s, first served at a New … [Continue reading]

Barrel Aging at Home – Part I

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A few months ago, my wife bought me a 2-liter oak barrel used for aging spirits. Who knew such a thing existed on such a small scale? As it turns out, you can get barrels in almost any size you’d like. Small barrels age the wine, spirits or beer … [Continue reading]

Classic Martinez

Martinez

I tried a few times to make a Martinez for our Classics series, and each time I messed up and made the Modern Martinez instead. This is because most recipes now use the modern ratios (much stronger), and you have to look specifically for the classic … [Continue reading]

A Merry Consumatorium Christmas to All

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We hope that all our readers have a terrific Christmas celebration. Please don’t consume too much, but definitely mix a fun drink or two for the holiday.Thanks to Dave and Maureen for the perfect new Christmas tree ornaments! … [Continue reading]

Orange Sazerac

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Yes, it’s true. I’m officially a Sazeracoholic. I love these things. Strong taste, dominated by the base liquor, plus just the right added flavor from the other ingredients to make it completely unique. The flourish required to make it properly is … [Continue reading]

The Last Word

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Never fear, loyal Consumatorium readers, we are not shutting down. No, The Last Word is a prohibition-era cocktail that was rediscovered and popularized about a decade ago. It's tasty and tart, and while the first sip is a little overpowering, it … [Continue reading]

The New Orange

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It is fairly widely known that the southern tip of Manhattan was originally settled by the Dutch and was called New Amsterdam. What is not as well known - and I certainly did not know it until I did the research for naming this cocktail - is that it … [Continue reading]

Today is the 80th Anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition – Let’s Celebrate!

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The Eighteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, banning the production, transport and sale (but not the private consumption or ownership) of alcoholic beverages was ratified by the requisite 3/4ths of the then 48 states on January 16, 1919. … [Continue reading]

Bloody Well Right

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"So you think your schooling is phoney, I guess it's hard not to agree You say it all depends on the money and who is in your family tree Right (Right), you're bloody well right, you got the bloody right to say . . . " Supertramp – Crime of the … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: The Med in Boulder

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This week the Consumatorium crew went to The Med (Mediterranean Restaurant) in Boulder. The Med is one of Boulder's hotspots; the restaurant has amazing food that has been consistently great since I've lived here (13 years now), and when they doubled … [Continue reading]

Robert’s Revenge

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Bob and Micki had another gathering where I tried some recipes using the Peruvian bitters (shown in first photo) Bob brought back from his most recent trip there, truly risking life and limb for the cause of mixology. We tried several recipes in fast … [Continue reading]

Tequila Sunrise

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It's another tequila sunriseStarin' slowly 'cross the sky, said goodbyeHe was just a hired handWorkin' on the dreams he planned to tryThe days go by Here at the Consumatorium, we frequently make lemonade out of lemons, or in this case, a great … [Continue reading]

Cuba Libre

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As part of our Classics series, I recently tried the Cuba Libre, an ancestor of the Rum & Coke likely invented in very early 20th century Havana as a way to promote Bacardi. I have to admit, this is not my favorite highball. Maybe it's that I … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: OAK at Fourteenth, Boulder

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Last night, I and two faithful Consumatorium readers, Bill and Seth, went to OAK at Fourteenth to sample their cocktails and cocktail experience. I'm hoping to make this into a series, covering the large and statistically unlikely number of excellent … [Continue reading]

The Classics

Here at the Consumatorium, we try to honor the great mixologists that came before us and, more importantly, the drinks they created. These classic drinks are great to know about because not only are they terrific cocktails on their own and have stood … [Continue reading]

3G Cocktail

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My friend Randy previously shared with us an excellent drink that he invented, and which I named the Cognitive Deficit. The other day I was at his home and he offered up another cocktail, this time a modern invention by master mixologist Junior … [Continue reading]

Pineapple and Vanilla Infused Tequila

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Infusions are intimidating, but they are really very easy. Cut up some fruit, throw in a little of this and a little of that, add liquor and wait a while. That’s about it. We’ve talked about infusions before with our Pineapple Infused Vodka and Hot … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: Monkey Bar, NYC

Monkey Bar, NYC - 2013-10-11-4

The traveling Consumatorium review team recently visited the famous Monkey Bar in New York City and consumed some of the excellent cocktails from its classic bar. The Monkey Bar was opened towards the end of Prohibition and was known as a place for … [Continue reading]

Jack Rose Cocktail

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I was recently told that we've been posting too many gin recipes. Fair enough: summer is over and it's time for something more hearty. And what could say autumn better than...Apple brandy!The Jack Rose is a classic from the 1920s and 30s. Laird's … [Continue reading]

Triage

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I invented this drink a couple of months ago, when I was experimenting again with Perfect Martini variations (see En Banc for another). I was trying to come up with something that those who disdain vermouth could enjoy, but without the sweetness of … [Continue reading]

The Gotham

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A while back, I went to the Mermaid Inn on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. There I had a drink called The Gotham, a Manhattan derivative. While the drink list gave me the ingredients, I wasn't convincing enough to get the recipe from the … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: Hemingway Bar in Prague, Czech Republic

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Recently, the entire Consumatorium staff went on a field trip to the Hemingway Bar in Prague, Czech Republic.  Not only is the Hemingway Bar a fabulous craft bar, but they specialize in their namesake's favorite drinks - absinthe, rum and … [Continue reading]

Tools of the Trade II

Microplane-grater-zester

In our previous Tools of the Trade post, we laid out the basic tools for the bar. As we've mixed drinks - both old and new - for the blog, though, we thought that we should add some of the tools that we've added to the Consumatorium bar over the past … [Continue reading]

Blueberry Smash

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Here at Consumatorium labs, we are dedicated to the research of the finest cocktails that anybody can make. Recently, a friend asked for suggestions for drinks made with blueberries, which are now fresh, local and readily available here in New … [Continue reading]

Auld Alliance

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The Auld Alliance was an alliance between Scotland and France in the late Middle Ages, primarily against England. This cocktail is the latest in my quest to finish off nearly empty bottles from my bar, so the quantities are just what I had left. I … [Continue reading]

Cocktails for an Outing

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Sometimes the amateur mixologist is called upon to prepare cocktails for an outing, such as a picnic, road trip, or camping trip. Since you cannot have your entire bar available in such circumstances, it is necessary to plan and prepare in advance. … [Continue reading]

Mint Simple Syrup

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In some ways this is almost too simple to devote a post to, but I know that I resisted making syrup for a while, so my hope is that describing how easy it is will help you take the plunge. Mint Simple Syrup is used in two very popular classic … [Continue reading]

Pineapple Infusion

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Infusing Vodka with pineapple is a similar process to infusing it with Hot Tamales candy, it's just a little more difficult to prepare and takes a bit longer. Don't let that put you off. Yes, you need to plan ahead - 11 days ahead - but the … [Continue reading]

Margarita

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As Will points out, a true classic Margarita won't taste like what you get in the average bar, because they often use sour mix or even Margarita mix to save time. And those mixes, among other differences, are sweeter than the straight … [Continue reading]

Pomegranate Margarita

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You know how it is when you walk into a run-of-the-mill bar and ask for a margarita on the rocks? Odds are you'll get some sickly sweet drink that'll knock your head back and will taste more synthetic than anything else. That's because the … [Continue reading]

Testing Quantities

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One of the challenges for the amateur mixologist is trying to find the right ratios of ingredients. Even with classic cocktails, you can find recipes with a range of ratios, and you need to decide how you like it made, not only for enjoyment's sake … [Continue reading]

Ginger Beer Refresher

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It's the first day of summer and it's time to think about serving refreshing drinks by the gallon. Who wants to wait on guests mixing finicky drinks when it's hot outside anyway? It's great when you can mix 'em up in volume and have people serve … [Continue reading]

East Meets West

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I love the taste of ginger and had been thinking of picking up a bottle of ginger liqueur for a while (Domain de Canton in particular) to see what kinds of alcoholic taste fantasies I could fulfill (get your mind out of the gutter, it's just a … [Continue reading]

Old Tom Gibson

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Just fabulous. I've written previously about Dry Martinis and Gibsons, and Will and I have both recently been using Old Tom gin. I put them together and made an Old Tom Gibson, and it's just a great combination, with a superior mesh of flavors that … [Continue reading]

Scottish Sombrero

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Dave's Lockjaw got me thinking about Drambuie and its potential to add sweet flavor to other base liquors, Tequila in particular. I played around with several combinations and a variety of bitters to offset the natural sweetness of the … [Continue reading]

Faux Fruit Cocktail

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Hardly any explanation needed. A bunch of fruity ingredients, but no actual fruit (except the cherry). It actually bears more than a passing resemblance in flavor to canned fruit cocktail. 1 oz gin 1 oz Applejack Brandy 1/2 oz grenadine 1/4 oz … [Continue reading]

Comparing Plymouth Gin and Old Tom

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Having just learned a bit about categories of gin, I thought I'd do a quick comparison and share what I've learned.There are several legal categories that vary depending on the country of origin and how the spirit is made. London gin, dry gin, … [Continue reading]

Table Scraps #1

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Sometimes you're at a friend's house, it's cocktail hour, and all he or she has in the back of a bottom kitchen cabinet is the most random collection of liquor you've ever seen. You should view this not as a disappointing debacle, but rather as an … [Continue reading]

Classic Martini with Modern Brands

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You might be surprised by the appearance of this Martini. Where's the olive? What's with that color? It turns out that the Martini most people know: gin, a touch of dry vermouth, and a pimiento-stuffed green olive - is a variation from the mid-20th … [Continue reading]

Norman Conquest

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Well, I've been refining this drink over the last few days and it's eerily similar to the En Banc that Dave has been working on. In my creation, I use Regan's Orange Bitters while Dave uses Amaro. Dave came at his drink while thinking about … [Continue reading]

En Banc

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You've been wondering, I'm sure, whether I'm on the wagon, given the dearth of posts. Never fear. I've been experimenting with variations on the Perfect Martini, and hadn't found a combination worthy of sharing (though some were good and probably … [Continue reading]

Lockjaw

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Back in the day, Will and I used to drink more than our fair share of Rusty Nails. There was a restaurant, Callahan's (it still exists, but they moved and were never the same), that served them in pint glasses for $3. OK, that was almost 30 years … [Continue reading]

Sweet Vermouth – Adding Carpano Antica to the Mix

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We've discussed several varieties of vermouth before on this blog, but in our undying commitment to trash our livers so you don't have to, we're going to go into a little more depth on Sweet Vermouths in this post. Sometimes called "Italian" or … [Continue reading]

Sazerac Cocktail

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[Note: this is an update from the original post to cover both Rye and Cognac versions of the drink] Most claim that this is the oldest American cocktail, having been first created by Peychaud of bitters fame in the 1830s. It got its name in the … [Continue reading]

Rob Roy

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The Rob Roy is just a Manhattan made with scotch whisky instead of rye. That makes it sound similar, but in fact it tastes quite different, and is very much worth having in your repertoire. The drink is named after Rob Roy MacGregor, a Scottish folk … [Continue reading]

Gibson

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Not everyone likes cocktail onions. I do. They're not included in our starter bar, but for ten bucks you can get a small jar that will last a very long time whether you use them or not. Unfortunately there aren't very many standard recipes that use … [Continue reading]

Dieci e Lodi

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For the home bartender, adding fruit juice to the repertoire increases dramatically the variety of drinks you can make, at very low cost in dollars and space. You need a good juicer, so that you can use fresh juice - it makes a huge difference. Plus … [Continue reading]

Williamsburg Cocktail

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It's "spring" in Colorado, which means "winter every other week." Just as some have been pulling their warm-weather clothes out of the closet, I've recently made a few warm weather cocktails, like the Negroni and the Scotch and Soda. But tonight … [Continue reading]

Will’s Antiquato

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Several years ago, I was at a charity auction and bid on and won the opportunity to work with a bartender at a restaurant to create my own drink and then to have that drink featured on the restaurant's menu for a month. The restaurant, Rocca, in … [Continue reading]

Old-Fashioned

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In the early 19th century, cocktails were a mixture of a liquor, bitters, sugar and water. Later, mixers like Triple Sec and Absinthe became more widely available and were commonly used in cocktails. After bars started stocking these newfangled … [Continue reading]

Diamondback

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Sometimes the home bartender has to substitute, and even compromise, to make a first pass at a cocktail. That's what I did here, substituting a half-and-half mix of cognac and cheap apple pucker for apple brandy. It's not the same, but gives you a … [Continue reading]

Negroni Cocktail

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Ah, spring is here: the birds are chirping, the air is warmer, everyone is playing outside. I put on my Chaco sandals and we took a ride in the convertible.  It must be time for a Negroni! Unlike many classic cocktails, this one can be traced to a … [Continue reading]

Sidecar

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I've been working my way through a few of the IBA standard cocktails, and I know the Sidecar is a classic. It can be mixed with our starter bar ingredients. Unfortunately it has the same problem as the White Lady, which is that it is too lemon-tart … [Continue reading]

Ordering Cocktails at Restaurants

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We took a little road trip this weekend to southwest Colorado, enjoying a little skiing, hiking, and hot springs. On Sunday we went out for a nice dinner, and the food was excellent, but the cocktail situation left a lot to be desired. A quick glance … [Continue reading]

Scotch and Soda

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It's 70 degrees in Boulder today, so I left the office a few minutes early, came home, and made myself the original highball, a Scotch and Soda. Always refreshing, and a great way to begin the process of acquiring a taste for scotch. You don't need a … [Continue reading]

White Lady

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The White Lady is a classic cocktail that I found on the IBA website. I made one this past weekend as shown in the photo, and while I enjoyed it, it was very tart. I feel about lemon juice the way Will does about dry vermouth: a little goes a long … [Continue reading]

Behind the Bar – Bartending Tips

As Dave and I work on this blog, we are going to try to summarize bartending tips that we think are important in a new page on the blog called Behind the Bar - Bartending Tips. We hope it will be a good resource to scan once in a while to remind … [Continue reading]

Starting Your Bar

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A while back, Dave and I published a list of what we felt were the essential liquors for a well stocked bar. Since then, several people have asked us where to start, how to build a bar on a budget and what are our favorites. So, we put together the … [Continue reading]

Vieux Carre

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I tried the Vieux Carre cocktail at Boulder's Brasserie 1010, thinking it was a house invention, and only later learning that it is a classic cocktail invented in New Orleans in the early 20th century. I was also pleased to find that it uses mostly … [Continue reading]

The Highball

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Highballs are a very different category of cocktail from what we've looked at so far on this blog. They have a much lower concentration of alcohol, making them appropriate and enjoyable for those who don't like more 'boozy' drinks. They're also nice … [Continue reading]

Wilted Poinsettia

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I was playing with some mint for an upcoming post and decided to just invent something. The mint plus Campari makes this look like a poinsettia that died around New Year's Day, but is still in the house in February. It's a tasty drink, with some … [Continue reading]

Bar Essentials – Vermouth

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In a previous post, Dave discussed one type of vermouth, Bianco. We've also discussed other types of vermouth as mixers in some of the drinks we've mentioned. Some people drink this stuff straight up - which is gross IMO - but as a mixer, a couple of … [Continue reading]

B&B&B

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The B&B is a classic after dinner drink - so classic, in fact, that you can get it pre-bottled. It stands for Brandy and.Benedictine (even quantities), and it is a tasty combo. Never content, I decided to mix it with bitters - specifically, an Amaro … [Continue reading]

Cabaret Cocktail Redux

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I previously wrote about the Cabaret Cocktail, which is a sort of Martini plus a little Benedictine, and while it was enjoyable it seemed to be missing something. More recently, I've been experimenting with various mixtures of Benedictine and Bitters … [Continue reading]

Amari Throwdown

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Dave posted a while back about Amaro Montenegro, which is quite good. We've also posted about several other Amari (plural for Amaro) used in mixed drinks. I thought it would be a good idea to taste test a selection of Amari back-to-back to answer the … [Continue reading]

Baroque and Famous

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We're at a cocktail party at our friends Bob and Micki's place. Bob's scientific work takes him to South America, and he picked up this bottle (note, a used Miller beer bottle) of these super tasty, unusual bitters from Iquitos, Peru. We replaced the … [Continue reading]

Tools of the Trade

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You don't need many tools to make great cocktails. Sure, you can go out and spend a fortune on some big cocktail kit, but there are only five tools you need.A small measuring cup. Here is the Oxo Mini Stainless Steal Measuring Cup which you can buy … [Continue reading]

Jewel, Bijou, or Tailspin

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Have you noticed that there is no way to search on ingredients to find the name of a cocktail? Google helps a little but it's hit or miss. With all the mixology going on and poseurs like me and Will making up our own cocktail names, there is bound to … [Continue reading]

Patrician

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This is a cousin of the Negroni which we have yet to describe - I'm leaving it to Dave because he has refined the proportions to be much more palatable than those of the original recipe. The Patrician retains the tart nature of the Negroni but adds a … [Continue reading]

Tommy Noble

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Named for the failed British boxer by a bartender at the now closed B Side Lounge in Cambridge, MA - what does that tell you about this drink? Failed boxer, closed bar . . . It's actually quite good with a sweet and sour taste (not bitter, but sour) … [Continue reading]

Hot Tamales Infusion

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Don't be intimidated by infusions. While they take a little time, they are very easy to do and offer up some tastes that you just can't buy. I spent many months last year experimenting with infusions, several of which I'll share with you here. Today, … [Continue reading]

Casino Soul

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Just picked up my first bottle of Cynar yesterday, it's an Amaro/bitters sort of beverage that is newer (1950s) than some of the multi-century liqueurs I've been playing with. Supposedly it is unique in that it includes artichoke as an ingredient, … [Continue reading]

Cognitive Deficit

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This cocktail recipe is courtesy of my long time friend and colleague Randy O'Reilly and his brother-in-law Dave Marr. It's really flavorful and brings out the Chartreuse without being dominated by it. Also, a lot of cocktails with orange juice just … [Continue reading]

Shaken or Stirred?

Because tonight's cocktail was just an enjoyable variant of the Upper West Side, I thought I'd talk briefly about the age-old question of shaken or stirred, which for some is a matter equal in importance to bathroom standards such as seat up or down … [Continue reading]

The Back Bay

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Sometimes, you have a drink at a bar and instantly fall in love with it. Once in a while, you want to spit it out - in the direction of the bartender. Still, at other times, you try something and you know it's close, but not quite … [Continue reading]

Cabaret Cocktail

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In keeping with the theme of Martini + something, we have the Cabaret, which features a touch of Benedictine. This is good but seems like it is missing something - really I think it's just a little shy with the Benedictine, giving the recipe in … [Continue reading]

Golden Gibson

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A Gibson is a dry martini with a cocktail onion instead of an olive or lemon twist. I felt like an experiment so I added Grand Marnier and a little absinthe. Nice combo - I like the color and it's just a mildly flavored martini. 2 oz Gin 1 oz dry … [Continue reading]

Not a Martinez

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Well, I thought I had been making the classic Martinez recipe, but it turns out I had the gin and vermouth quantities mostly reversed, ending up with something more like an augmented Martini (recall that the original Martini used sweet vermouth). … [Continue reading]

St. Germain, Lillet, Bianco: A Comparison

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These are three liqueur/mixers that have some similarity in color and alcohol content. St Germain has become quite popular in the last few years, while Lillet Blanc's claim to fame is its inclusion in the Vesper, a truly nasty beverage fictionally … [Continue reading]

El Monje Loco

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This one is my invention and I'm damn proud of it. First, the name: I was calling it "Crazy Monk" due to the tequila / Benedictine combo. Then my friend Mauricio pointed out that there is a sort of cartoon character in Mexico named "El Monje Loco", … [Continue reading]

The Upper West Side

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Yesterday, Dave posted Best. Manhattan, Evar. I made the drink tonight and it is fabulous. A must try. But, I don't think that making it a Manhattan derivative does it justice. It is a bit sweeter and has more body than a Manhattan. I believe it … [Continue reading]

Fort Point

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The Fort Point is the house drink at the bar Drink (yes, that's the name of the bar) in Boston. Since I went to a cocktail class with the bartenders from Drink and learned how to make it, it's been my absolute favorite and my go-to cocktail.2 ounces … [Continue reading]

Best. Manhattan. Evar.

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A Manhattan is among the most classic of classic cocktails. The standard recipe is Rye, sweet vermouth, and a dash of bitters with a cherry. My drink tonight illustrates how brands matter, because it was amazing. 2 oz Russell's Kentucky Rye 1 oz … [Continue reading]

A Well-Stocked Bar

We've had several requests for a list of what a bar should include. Here is a first attempt; Will and I collaborated on this list. We have avoided specifying brands for this particular purpose, because we'll want to get into that with more focus for … [Continue reading]

Aviation Cocktail

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The Aviation Cocktail is a classic drink - one of those created by some bartender at a fancy hotel in New York during the early 20th century like a thousand other drinks. The drink has an unusual flavor with the gin balanced by the sweetness of the … [Continue reading]

Brooklyn

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The Brooklyn is one of the cocktails that got me interested in the larger world of ingredients. It's a classic from the 1800s, but one of the key ingredients is an amaro called Amer Picon, which is not generally imported into the U.S. Some bars … [Continue reading]

Maximilian Affair

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In the original Maximilian Affair, the French intervened in Mexican affairs in the mid-19th century. If Napoleon had the drink Maximilian Affair available to him at the time, he would have been decidedly more chill about beating the crap out of the … [Continue reading]

Welcomed Pause

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Last night I had dinner at the Bramble & Hare, a fairly serious mixological establishment, and started with a Welcomed Pause. In both name and ingredients, this suited my mood. Basically it's gin and several Amaros. I don't have any of those … [Continue reading]

Bar Essentials – Punt e Mes

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Up until about a year ago, I had never even heard of Punt e Mes. Now, I use it all the time. Punt e Mes is an Italian vermouth that is sweet at first taste, but bitter as it lasts on the tongue. The bitter effect is, interestingly, cumulative. The … [Continue reading]

Amaro Montenegro

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After enjoying a Cooperstown - basically a Perfect Martini with mint, pretty good) before dinner at Alba, we decided to have a little "digestivo" at home. Amaro Montenegro is a recent acquisition that I bought for mixed cocktails, but its origins are … [Continue reading]

San Gennaro

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This one was suggested by my friend and colleague Joni Klippert, and has the merit of consisting of ingredients I already have. That is, except for the Luxardo cherries, which I was long overdue to procure. 1 oz Rye 1 oz Amaro Montenegro 1 oz sweet … [Continue reading]

Scotch Whisky

I've been drinking scotch since I was in high school, and there is a lot to say about it. Today, though, I just want to talk about a couple of basics. The main thing to know about scotch is that there are single malts, and blends, and if you care … [Continue reading]

Dry Martini

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The original Martini recipe actually called for Italian (sweet) vermouth. The Dry Martini was a variation that substituted French (dry) vermouth. Only more recently did 'dry' come to refer to the amount of vermouth. 3 oz Plymouth Gin 1 oz … [Continue reading]

Chrysanthemum Cocktail

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I first had a Chrysanthemum at the Black Cat in Boulder. It's an after-dinner cocktail that made a lovely dessert that Maureen and I shared. Why fill up on pastry carbs when you can have one of these? Black Cat made theirs with Bianco vermouth, which … [Continue reading]

Income Tax Cocktail

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I was browsing recipes on Imbibe and came up with this tasty drink, the Income Tax Cocktail. It's the weekend, so I thought I'd make it a little bigger than the recipe - here's what I did: 2 oz Plymouth Gin1 oz Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth1 oz … [Continue reading]

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