What We’re Reading at 213

February 23rd, 2012 — 10:34am

Sloshed: Will a Dash of Bitters Do Anything at All? – Grubstreet

Bartenders’ recent fascination with bitters — the mysterious potions sold in little apothecary bottles — has created a market for all sorts of variations. There are citrus bitters, maple bitters, cherry bitters, celery bitters, bitters aged in whiskey barrels, chocolate bitters, etc., etc. There are a lot, is what I’m saying. But do bitters — often added in doses so small that they verge on homeopathic — actually impart a discernible difference? I sat down and drank a lot of booze to figure it out.

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The Manhattan Project: A guide to stirring, experimenting with and drinking up the leanest, meanest and jazziest of classic cocktails – Wall Street Journal

Take a sip. It’s not a race—just a sip. Now savor. Cinnamon. Oak. Vanilla. Mint. Cornbread. Dark cherries, even. The flavors of the Manhattan seem to go on forever. Crazy good, huh? Amazing for a drink that really only has three ingredients: whiskey, vermouth, a dash of bitters. That’s the beauty of the cocktail. It’s gimmick-free.

The Manhattan is a boozy, sophisticated drink that embraces the energy of the city after which it’s named. But unlike its cosmopolitan brother in arms, it is dark and moody: If the Martini is James Bond’s drink, the Manhattan is Bruce Wayne’s.

It’s a rare cocktail that takes well to tinkering—try toying with, say, a mojito, and you’ll get one that tastes marginally different from the one you shook up earlier, or one that needs to go down the drain. Yet in the case of the Manhattan, 97.8% of the time the result of your seemingly haphazard experimentation will be revelatory payoff. Use rye instead of bourbon, swap Cinzano for Carpano, give some orange or Creole bitters a try, tweak the proportions—it’s like liquid jazz, man!—and the drink undergoes a transformation. At first it will seem as familiar as a favorite pair of jeans, but after a few more sips it will feel like an alternate universe.

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For the best Manhattan cocktail in Los Angeles, visit The Varnish bar in Downtown LA.